The Arrangement (film)

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The Arrangement
Directed byElia Kazan
Produced byElia Kazan
Written byNovel/screenplay:
Elia Kazan
StarringKirk Douglas
Faye Dunaway
Deborah Kerr
Richard Boone
Hume Cronyn
Music byDavid Amram
CinematographyRobert Surtees
Edited byStefan Arnsten
Distributed byWarner Bros.-Seven Arts
Release date
  • November 18, 1969 (1969-11-18) (US)
Running time
125 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$4 million (US/Canada rentals)[1]

The Arrangement is a 1969 film drama directed by Elia Kazan, based upon his 1967 novel of the same title.

It tells the story of a successful Los Angeles-area advertising executive of Greek-American extraction, Evangelos Arness, who goes by the professional name "Eddie Anderson." He is portrayed by Kirk Douglas.

Eddie is suicidal and slowly having a psychotic breakdown. He is miserable at home in his marriage to his wife, Florence, played by Deborah Kerr, and with his career. He is engaged in a torrid affair with his mistress and co-worker Gwen (Faye Dunaway), and is forced to re-evaluate his life and its priorities while dealing with his willful and aging father (Richard Boone).


Wealthy ad man Eddie Anderson makes a suicide attempt in his car. He is contemptuous of life and its "arrangements." His long marriage to Florence is now devoid of passion, and he has become the lover of Gwen, a research assistant at his Los Angeles advertising agency. He descends into a long depression and silence, often conjuring up memories or hallucinations of Gwen.

A psychiatrist, Dr. Leibman, eventually listens to stories of Eddie's nightmares and general discontent with life. Eddie returns to work, where he insults a valued client. He pilots a small plane about L.A. and buzzes its skyscrapers recklessly, causing the police to be called. His mental stability is now seriously in doubt. His wife also sees compromising photographs of Eddie and Gwen.

Arthur, his lawyer, gives wife Florence power of attorney as Eddie travels to New York to visit Sam Arness, his ill father. The father is so sick that Eddie's brother and sister-in-law want him placed in an institution. Gwen is also in New York now, living with a man named Charles and telling Eddie of many other affairs that she has had. She has a baby that she claims is not Eddie's (but it is strongly implied she's lying).

A delusional Eddie begins to have conversations with his alter ego. Arthur brings papers for him to sign, turning over all of his community property to Florence, but she tells him not to sign them, and it turns out he signed someone else's name. Florence and Eddie have a long intense conversation, in which Eddie says he just wants to do nothing for a while—Florence simply can't understand this, and says he's insane. He sets fire to his father's house and comes to Gwen's apartment, where Charles shoots him—after this, Eddie is committed to a psychiatric hospital, but can release himself at any time, simply by proving he's got a job and a home to go to.

Eddie seems to feel contentment in his solitude at the asylum, but Gwen brings the baby to see him, and manages to lure him outside to try again, saying she's got a job for him. At his father's funeral, Florence and Gwen are both there and see each other for the first time, and Florence seems to grudgingly accept the relationship between Eddie and Gwen as the only way Eddie can be saved from himself.



Kazan wanted Eddie to be portrayed by Marlon Brando, who Kazan felt could bring a greater depth to the role and bring it close to the character portrayed in the novel and who had experienced great success with Kazan previously in the films A Streetcar Named Desire, Viva Zapata!, and On the Waterfront. However, Brando refused to take the role, stating that he had no interest in making a film so soon after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Kazan felt this to be a dodge on Brando's part and wondered if the real reasons had more to do with Brando's increasing weight or receding hairline.


Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote that it "reeks with slightly absurd movie chic but, unlike Douglas Sirk's Written on the Wind or Vincente Minnelli's Two Weeks in Another Town, it's not only not much fun, but it's a mess of borrowed styles. What's worse is that it may be largely incomprehensible, on a simple narrative level, unless one has read Kazan's best-selling, 543-page short story that the director has more or less synopsized in his movie."[2] Variety called it "a confused, overly-contrived and overlength film peopled with a set of characters about whom the spectator couldn't care less."[3] Roger Ebert gave the film 2.5 stars out of 4 in a more mixed review, writing that it was "one of those long, ponderous, star-filled 'serious' films that were popular in the 1950s, before we began to value style more highly than the director's good intentions. It isn't successful, particularly not on Kazan's terms (he sees it, doubtless, as a bitter sermon on the consequences of selling out). But it does draw nourishment from the remarkable performances of Kirk Douglas and Faye Dunaway."[4] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave it 2 stars out of 4, writing that Kazan "fails to give us a clear characterization of Eddie or the people in his life. What tensions are revealed are clouded by basic directing errors ... It would be nice to excuse Kazan's direction by saying that he was forced to jazz up a weak script, but he wrote the script too."[5] Pauline Kael of The New Yorker wrote, "If one did not know that Kazan is a major figure in films, one would find nothing in the way this movie has been made to suggest it. The direction is tight and almost cruelly coercive of the actors. There's nothing in this movie that looks spontaneous, either in the direction or the acting. The actors have no life of their own as performers, no trace of invention; they're just shouting ciphers, acting out ready-made popular ideas about selling out."[6] Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "The personal passion which informed the novel is still present in the movie, but on the screen the passion is so compromised and weakened by what passes for technique and invention that it becomes only an intermittent echo."[7] Tony Mastroianni in The Cleveland Press referred to the film as a "bad novel [that] didn't improve very much in the transfer [to film].[8] Philip Strick of The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote that the film "turns out to have said no more in 125 minutes than it stated during the first six."[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1969", Variety, 7 January 1970 p 15
  2. ^ Canby, Vincent (November 19, 1969). "Screen: Kazan's 'The Arrangement'". The New York Times: 48.
  3. ^ "The Arrangement". Variety: 22. November 19, 1969.
  4. ^ Ebert, Roger (December 24, 1969). "The Arrangement". Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  5. ^ Siskel, Gene (December 25, 1969). "Kazan's 'The Arrangement'". Chicago Tribune. Section 2, p. 8.
  6. ^ Kael, Pauline (November 22, 1969). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker: 216.
  7. ^ Champlin, Charles (December 19, 1969). "'Arrangement' Faint Echo of Kazan Book". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 1.
  8. ^ Mastroionni, Tony (December 26, 1969). "Kazan's "Arrangement" Is Waste of Time". The Cleveland Memory Project. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  9. ^ Strick, Philip (March 1970). "The Arrangement". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 37 (434): 44.

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