Kirk Douglas and Faye Dunaway in master moviemaker Elia Kazan's hard-hitting story about an adman's attempts to rebuild his shattered life after suffering a nervous breakdown. Year: 1969 Director: Elia Kazan Starring: Kirk... more » Douglas, Faye Dunaway, Deborah Kerr« less
Absorbing & Dramatic Look At Consequences Of Life Choices!
Barron Laycock | Temple, New Hampshire United States | 08/26/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although director Elia Kazan ultimately failed in this uneven if brilliant attempt to bring his best-selling semi-autobiographical novel to the screen, it is a wonderful sociological portrait of a man driven to the edge of madness and despair by what material and career success does to his soul. Kirk Douglas is terrific as Eddie Anderson, the deeply conflicted Greek-American second-generation crossover who buys into the pursuit of American business success and now feels as though his talent and creativity have been totally corrupted and squandered in pursuit of the bitch goddess of success. He has it all, money, sex, and power, and all the toys and accessories such material success means. But his life is increasingly ashes in his mouth, a bitter, lonely, empty and unfulfilling existence that is literally driving Eddie insane. We watch enraptured as he plunges head-first into a disastrous mid-life crisis, spiraling dangerously down the slippery slope toward madness and involuntary commitment, until slowly and painfully he begins to figure out what is wrong and how to fix it, although all this is obviously done at an amazingly hurtful and angst-filled cost to himself and his loved ones. Deborah Kerr co-stars as his loving but also self-concerned and controlling wife, and Faye Dunaway turns in a compelling performance as the insightful and sarcastic love interest who draws him out of his mid-life diversions and makes him see how expensive his sell-out has been to the real Eddie underneath all the glitz and glamour. They say this movie had it all in the can, but that somehow author/producer/director Elia Kazan blew it all by cutting and editing it terribly, leaving it disjointed and hard-to-follow. Even though this seems to be true, the movie is uneven but still quite good, with a number of intense and moving scenes with Douglas, Dunaway, Kerr and Richard Boone that are among the best dramatic footage I have ever seen. Watch for the scenes late in the film when Eddie tries to explain himself and his actions to his wife, tryng to verbalize the very complicated reasons he simply cannot work at the ad agency any more. Although she coaxs him into the monologue, promising him she'll do "ANYTHING, god-dammit!" to make him happy, in the end she is quite conflicted, as well, and as a result totally misunderstands him, discounting his problems and conflicts and not hearing his plaintive pleas because she really doesn't want to give up their privileged lifestyle. He pours out his heart and needs, but she isn't listening, reacting angrily instead to what she sees as his selfishness even though she has begged him to be honest about what he really wants. Such powerful scenes honestly and accurately document the terrible failed attempts at critical communication that too often characterize the destruction of life-long relationships and tragic divorce. Richard Boone of the TV series "Have Gun, Will Travel", an old Douglas friend and associate, also turns in a wonderful performance as Eddie's domineering and senile Greek-immigrant father, a once successful rug-importer who torments Eddie because he wants Eddie to bankroll him for another chance to control his own life. The way all this spins together was the powerful driving stuff behind a best-selling novel. The movie isn't quite as good, but it is still a wonderful, entertaining and powerful drama eminently worth watching."
Transformation of a life -a masterpiece
Alejandro Celis | 08/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In short, this movie shows how a man who's succesful and rich but lives in a permanent lie suddenly cracks up -in a very healthy way- and starts from scratch to re-evaluate his life: his job, his feelings toward his wife, his father, his lover. The confrontation between the establishment and someone who just wants to "live" -as he puts it- is brilliantly depicted. Elia Kazan's genius is very clear here. Very good acting from Kirk Douglas, Faye Dunaway and Deborah Kerr. I found interesting similarities between this movie and Peter Weir's Fearless."
Alejandro Celis | 01/15/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Pay no attention to Lenny's review above. The Arrangement is brilliant, one of the best movies ever. Psychologically intense and somehow realistic and bizarre at the same time. Story, direction and Douglas are all great. But when is the DVD coming!"
Alejandro Celis | 11/25/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this movie on the big screen years ago when I was a university student, and it is definitely still one of the most impressionable, memorable movies I have ever seen. The movie grips you from beginning to end and you wonder what it is heading for. I recall the slow horror that filled me as the leading actor's (i learn from the reviews it is Kirk Douglas) mind begins to show schizophrenic tendencies, but what is scary is that schizophrenia appears as something very everyday, a form of alienation, something that I felt we are all going through without realising it. I thought this is a movie about myself - or my two selves ! I want to see it on video to see if I feel the same intensity I felt then. And another thing , it was intensely ..., the scenes between kirk Douglas and Faye Dunaway. This is definitely a special movie, bringing out deeper inner traumas...and oh yes reminds me of other movies of this genre(The Graduate comes to mind) that expose the hollow,social world of high society. A very watchable movie though very disturbing !"
A Film Whose Time Has Come.
Chip Kaufmann | Asheville, N.C. United States | 02/25/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Panned and patronized at the time of it's initial release, Elia Kazan's adaptation of his best selling book THE ARRANGEMENT plays much better now than it did in 1969. Made after a 6 year hiatus from filmmaking at a time when movies were enjoying unheard of freedom due to the demise of the production code, THE ARRANGEMENT clearly shows that Kazan was still a director to be reckoned with. The basic premise was nothing new. A highly succesful businessman (Kirk Douglas) suffers a mid-life crisis and attempts suicide. How he and the other characters deal with the aftermath make up the rest of the story.
Kazan has always been an actor's director and the film provides a showcase for the young Faye Dunaway as Douglas' mistress who gets him to reexamine his life but wants out to be with someone else. Deborah Kerr in her last major film appearance is superb in the difficult role of the wife who tries to understand what Douglas is going through but doesn't want to give up the rich lifestyle she's become accustomed to. Strong support is given by Hume Cronyn as the family solicitor who has plans of his own and from Richard Boone in a rare non-Western role as Douglas' ailing father. His slide into dementia is both heartbreaking and terrifying. Marlon Brando had originally agreed to play the lead but bowed out allowing Kirk Douglas who really wanted to work with Kazan to step in. He acquits himself well in an emotionally as opposed to a physically demanding role.
The combination of raw emotions, alternating points-of-view including black humor, and touches of surrealism was ambitious then and still is today (think AMERICAN BEAUTY). The movie is not without its flaws. It runs too long and is occasionally sloppy in everything from editing to make-up but the powerful writing and intense performances make THE ARRANGEMENT provocative filmmaking nearly 40 years later. Called everything from a harrowing emotional ride to a self-indulgent mess (see the Amazon summary) it is ultimately for the home viewer to decide (my 4 star rating indicates where I stand). Kazan will always be a controversial figure because of his HUAC testimony in the 1950's but his greatness as a director cannot be denied and remains captured on film for all to see."