Tony Mastroianni Review Collection
Kazan's "Arrangement" Is Waste of Time
Cleveland Press December 26, 1969
Elia Kazan's bad novel, "The Arrangement," is now on the screen; produced, directed and scripted by Elia Kazan. It didn't improve very much in the transfer.
Oh, if one takes a purely academic interest in these things Kazan is a better dramatist than he is a novelist; but what's better than bad ?
The plays like a television or radio set with the volume turned up too loud. Everyone comes on strong and loud -- not good, just loud.
THERE ARE PARTS of "The Arrangement' that are quite serious but come out extremely funny, and other parts that may have been intended as funny but are merely absurd.
Kazan is concerned with the libido of a middle-aged executive, a married man given to Tom-catting around but who has now settled down with one mistress -- in addition to his wife.
Seems he has a little trouble keeping things separated. Seems he really doesn't care. His wife is not only forgiving but absurdly understanding, referring all matters to her psychiatrist. She's killing him with kindness and he's trying to kill himself by steering his small car into the side of a very big truck.
But he doesn't do a very good job of that either. His idea of getting into life is to sit and sulk in his wheelchair.
LATER HE GETS a couple of other ideas, like kidnaping his invalid father and burning down the old family house.
Kazan fills his film with flashbacks and symbols and hallucinations, but there's nothing he can do to make it look modern. Whatever he does is very old fashioned rather than novel. Only in its frankness is it a movie of today. Scrub some of the language, cover up some of the skin and what you have left is parcel of banalities.
Kazan obviously sees something of himself in the protagonist so perhaps he is too close to the character to observe that this is a pretty shallow, self-centered and mostly uninteresting guy.
Kirk Douglas, Deborah Kerr and Faye Dunaway play their parts with a kind of grim determination. Miss Dunaway is a rather cool girlfriend to arouse such passions. All three reach a new high (or low) for major performers willing to appear so nearly in the buff.