The Arrangement is a film that I had always heard the name of, but never really heard anything about. It’s rare for a film to be directed by the author of the book that it is based on. In fact, I can’t recall ever seeing that before. Upon watching the film, it is obvious to me how important it is for a director to have a clear understanding of the story he is trying to tell. Kazan knows this story inside and out, and even the slightest nuance of the least-important scene contributes to the story being told.
The arrangement tells the story of Eddie, a high-powered advertising executive who has a very unexpected midlife crisis within the first few minutes of the film. As viewers, we spend the rest of the movie examining his life, and slowly discovering what led him to this tumultuous point in his life. The film actually reminded me a lot of The Graduate, if Dustin Hoffman had been in this 40’s. Here, Kirk Douglas plays the Benjamin Braddock role, with just a bit of Sybil thrown in for good measure.
This is a film that embraces its era wholeheartedly, and to me, that just adds to how fascinating it is. This seems to be a piece that lives right on the edge between a well-known film and a true classic of cinema. For my money, it belongs squarely in the classic section.
This mono track performs much better than the standard mono offering. The word mono carries with it a certain negative connotation that says that the audio is going to be adequate at best. This track, however, is actually pretty dynamic. It is entirely possible that this is because there is so little score in the film, so the center channel speaker only has one thing to concentrate on at a time. Whatever the reason, this track really delivers the goods, while not drawing attention to itself. Very impressive.
The video quality looks amazingly sharp here. There are a few very minor blemishes that show up here and there, but overall the quality of the images is quite impressive. The film even stays clear through all those crazy 60’s-style quick zooms. There is so much motion in the images. The editing is especially amazing, filled with fats cuts and slick movement. It really is a testament to the quality of the transfer that the quality is consistently impressive, no matter what kinds of complicated things the filmmaker throws at it.
There are just two extras here. One is the staple of a theatrical trailer, which is especially fun because trailers of this era were often times as much of an electronic press kit as they were trailers. More time is spent on Elia Kazan than on telling the story. The other extra really is the film’s EPK, a vintage featurette. Again, the highlight of this piece is Kazan, as he gets the chance to expound on his feelings about the themes explored in the film. Any time viewers get a chance to hear some words of wisdom from one of cinema’s all-time great directors, the segment is well worth your time.
This film has been available on videocassette in the past, but to my knowledge this is the first time it has been available on DVD. Hopefully, this bold film will find a new audience now that it has reached the digital medium. It certainly deserves it. I feel that this is one of Kirk Douglas’ finest roles. It is a shame that there is not more here in the way of extras, but the quality and video quality is pretty impressive for a film of this age. Make no mistake, this is a serious drama, but I don’t remember having quite so much fun wrestling with such heavy material in a long, long time.
Special Features List
- Vintage Featurette A New Lifestyle
- Theatrical Trailer