What can be said for The Arrangement? The only thing it has in common with Elia Kazan's other works is a rebellious character. However, this is the kind of rebel we saw in On The Waterfront or East of Eden 30 or so years after those films ended. I'll come right out now and say that very little in The Arrangement works.
The film is based on a novel written by Kazan himself. The film was released two years after the film. Kazan originally wanted Marlon Brandon to play the main character, Eddie. Brandon declined the film and stated that he did not want to do it so close to the death of Martin Luther King. Elia Kazan did not believe Brando and thought it was due to his increasing weight, receding hairline and overall aging.
The critics despised this film, (maybe a little bit more than they should have). The Arrangement currently holds a 17% on Rotten Tomatoes.
It is very difficult to go into detail with the plot of The Arrangement. I will try my best to give summary of the film.
Eddie Anderson is experiencing a mid-life crisis. One morning as he cruises along in his sports car (driving with his hands behind his head) he suddenly crashes into a truck. He sure is lucky, because about a week better he's fine. However, this leaves him with an urge to change the course of his life. So after a lengthy conversation with his wife, Florence, about a woman named Gwen who he had an affair with and many flashbacks of them having sex, Eddie decides to track her down. However, before doing anything he decides to go to work where he insult a client, yells at his co-workers and purchases a private plane so he hover around L.A. After that he is put on leave until he can return to being the "normal Eddie".
Eddie goes to New York where he stumbles on Gwen. He discovers she is now with a very young child. Needless to say, Eddie and Gwen have sex several times. Eddie then goes to visit his senile father. After a conference with his family, they decide to put him into a nursing home. Eddie strongly disagrees with their decision and decides to hide his father on an old house on Long Island. Eddie calls Gwen to come down to Long Island so they can continue their affair and Eddie can care for his father. However, Eddie's family are slowing coming close to discovering where Eddie has hidden his father.
This film is terrible. There is one redeeming-ish quality about The Arrangement and that's the interactive manner in which it is shot. Some examples are flashbacks shot in sepia in the style of a silent film, abrupt cuts that cleverly contradict what the characters are saying, one scene where a character rips up a photo and places it on the ground. As well look down we see that the photo is moving (its the kind of thing that you can only see to understand). However, all of these "original" manners of film-making contradict that kind of film The Arrangement is. This is a melodrama (although there are several scenes that could pass for a comedy)!
Kirk Douglas, Faye Duneaway and Deborah Kerr! What a cast! Did I mention they're all really bad in it? Well, maybe that's a little bit of an exaggeration. Kirk Douglas overacts in most scenes, Faye Dunaway doesn't act and Deborah Kerr is alright in a few scenes, however her character is never real for us. As well, these character are all supposed to have some degree of chemistry between them. I'm pretty sure there's more chemistry between the characters in Howard the Duck than in this film.
Why? Elia Kazan made me sit through the scene where a fully nude Kirk Douglas lies on a bed next to his fully suited father (played by Richard Boone). This scene adds nothing for the film. In fact none of the nude scenes do... and there's a lot of them! Also, as I was watching I thought "wow... Richard Boone looks way younger than Kirk Douglas and he's supposed to play his father..." this distracted me for a lengthy point of time. After the film ended I looked it up, Richard Boone is younger than Kirk Douglas.
Come on, Elia!
Directed by Elia Kazan
Starring: Kirk Douglas, Faye Dunaway and Deborah Kerr
1. Panic in the Streets
2. Splendor in the Grass
4. The Arrangement