The Arrangement (1969)

127 mins | Drama | 18 November 1969

Director:

Elia Kazan

Writer:

Elia Kazan

Producer:

Elia Kazan

Cinematographer:

Robert Surtees

Editor:

Stefan Arnsten

Production Designer:

Gene Callahan
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HISTORY

Director Elia Kazan told the 24 May 1966 NYT that he quit the theater in 1964, moved to rural Connecticut, and wrote a novel called The Arrangement, which he said was “a continuation of” his last film, America, America (1963, see entry), which he wrote, produced, and directed. The Arrangement was said to be "the first thing [he] ever wrote that was intended as a novel." America America had originally been written in screenplay form, but Kazan later turned the script into a novel, which he then adapted back into a screenplay. While The Arrangement was number one on the NYT best-seller list, Kazan confided to the 16 Mar 1967 LAT that he had originally tried to write it as a screenplay, but threw it away after a hundred pages because he wanted to dig deeper into the character of “Eddie Anderson,” born “Evangelos.” He stressed that despite the autobiographical aspects of the novel (e. g., Eddie, like Elia Kazan, was Greek), “he’s not me….If he’s anybody, he’s [playwright] Clifford Odets."
       According to the 1 Jun 1967 NYT and 7 Jun 1967 Var, Warner Bros. Pictures signed a deal with Kazan that would pay him $500,000 for the film rights to The Arrangement and another $500,000 to produce and direct it. The deal stipulated that the company also would share fifty percent of the profits with him. Kazan revealed that he had discussed potential obstacles posed by the book’s sexual content with Jack Valenti, head of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and thought he could ... More Less

Director Elia Kazan told the 24 May 1966 NYT that he quit the theater in 1964, moved to rural Connecticut, and wrote a novel called The Arrangement, which he said was “a continuation of” his last film, America, America (1963, see entry), which he wrote, produced, and directed. The Arrangement was said to be "the first thing [he] ever wrote that was intended as a novel." America America had originally been written in screenplay form, but Kazan later turned the script into a novel, which he then adapted back into a screenplay. While The Arrangement was number one on the NYT best-seller list, Kazan confided to the 16 Mar 1967 LAT that he had originally tried to write it as a screenplay, but threw it away after a hundred pages because he wanted to dig deeper into the character of “Eddie Anderson,” born “Evangelos.” He stressed that despite the autobiographical aspects of the novel (e. g., Eddie, like Elia Kazan, was Greek), “he’s not me….If he’s anybody, he’s [playwright] Clifford Odets."
       According to the 1 Jun 1967 NYT and 7 Jun 1967 Var, Warner Bros. Pictures signed a deal with Kazan that would pay him $500,000 for the film rights to The Arrangement and another $500,000 to produce and direct it. The deal stipulated that the company also would share fifty percent of the profits with him. Kazan revealed that he had discussed potential obstacles posed by the book’s sexual content with Jack Valenti, head of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and thought he could make the film as an “M” (rated “Suggested for Mature Audiences”) without compromising the material. Warner Bros. president Ben Kalmenson added that the company would not impose restrictions on Kazan, but he was certain the film would be “free of ‘sensationalism or smut.’” A month later, the 5 Jul 1967 DV noted that Arthur Laurents was signed to write the screenplay, but he was ultimately not involved in the film.
       Marlon Brando, who had starred in Kazan’s earlier Broadway plays and films, including A Streetcar Named Desire (1951, see entry) and On the Waterfront (1951, see entry), initially agreed to play Eddie Anderson in The Arrangement, which was slated to begin filming on 20 May 1968, according to the 29 Mar 1968 DV. However, Brando backed out of the project, claiming “personal matters” of “an overwhelming nature,” the 17 Apr 1968 LAT reported, and filming was delayed five months. Actor Rod Steiger, who had costarred with Brando in On the Waterfront, and George C. Scott were briefly considered for leading roles, but both left for other commitments, the 25 Apr 1968 and 7 May 1968 editions of the LAT reported. One of the articles revealed that Brando departed because Kazan asked him to avoid his outspoken commitment to civil rights, especially his participation in recent Black Panther protests against police violence. John Vernon was signed to the film, according to the 3 Apr 1968 Var, but he likewise dropped out of the project. Kazan had already rented an empty 1840 mansion in Douglaston, Queens, NY, on the shore of Little Neck Bay, which was scheduled for demolition. He planned to burn down the house for the film, but when shooting was delayed because of Brando’s departure, the owner razed it.
       The 27 May 1968 DV announced that Kirk Douglas and Faye Dunaway had been cast, joining Deborah Kerr and Richard Boone. Filming was set to begin on 15 Oct 1968. Manos Hadjidakis was signed to score the film, the 24 Jul 1968 Var noted, but he was not involved in the final project. According to the 13 Nov 1968 Var, director of photography Robert Surtees planned to use a prototype 124-pound Panavision blimp for his handheld Arriflex camera, to eliminate camera sounds.
       Principal photography began on 14 Oct 1968, as announced two days later in the 16 Oct 1968 Var. Following the demolition of the Douglaston mansion, a team of Warner Bros. craftsmen were rushed to the town to reconstruct its façade, complete with broad veranda and cupola tower. Special gas pipes were hidden to facilitate a fire that would burn the façade down. On 25 Oct 1968, as hundreds of residents and two New York City Fire Department companies watched from a hundred yards away, special-effects technician Norman Skeeter torched the house, and cameras rolled. Elia Kazan told a reporter, “We wanted this house because it had the right look and a setting by the water. We needed a place on a point, so that it could be burned down without endangering other homes.” He added that a replica of the façade was built on the Warners lot in Burbank, CA, and would also be destroyed with a controlled burn as Kirk Douglas’s character was filmed fleeing the flames.
       The 28 Nov 1968 LAT announced that The Arrangement was “back in town with all its stars,” and that filming had recently been done at a residence in the Los Angeles, CA, suburb of Encino. Two months later, the 21 Jan 1969 DV reported that the company would be shooting the following day in Santa Barbara, CA, with Richard Boone. The production would then continue at Warner Bros. Studios. New York cabdriver John Randolph Jones, making his theatrical film debut as an actor, was flown to Burbank to complete several scenes he began in Manhattan the previous fall.
       The film was set to have its world premiere on 18 Nov 1969 in New York City, where it would open in two theaters the following day, the 17 Sep 1969 Var noted. It opened in Los Angeles a month later, on 19 Dec 1969. Reviews were negative. The 17 Nov 1969 DV called The Arrangement “a confused, overly-contrived and overlength film peopled with a set of characters about whom the spectator couldn’t care less,” and declared that the new and restrictive “R” rating from the MPAA—because of “four-letter words, skin shots and frank bedroom sequences"—was justified. (In an earlier, 24 Sep 1969 Var article, “reliable sources” had leaked the news that in rushes and rough-cuts, “the genitalia of some of pic’s leading players were plainly shown.”) The 19 Nov 1969 NYT found that the film "may be largely incomprehensible, on a simple narrative level,” to those who had not read Kazan’s novel. The 19 Dec 1969 LAT declared: “The best of it is too interesting and the worst of it is too atrociously bad.” Ultimately, in his 4 Jan 1970 NYT year-end wrap-up, film critic Vincent Canby deemed The Arrangement one of “The Ten Worst Films of 1969.” Warner Bros. issued a denial, printed in the 12 Jan 1970 DV and elsewhere, that Elia Kazan was trying to re-edit the film before its wide release “on the basis of downbeat reviews.” The 4 Feb 1970 Var stated that during the film’s second week at thirty-five theatrical locations, sales were “meandering” at $167,000 after a starting week of $273,064. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
5 Jul 1967
p. 15.
Daily Variety
29 Mar 1968
p. 12.
Daily Variety
27 May 1968
p. 1.
Daily Variety
23 Oct 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
21 Jan 1969
p. 24.
Daily Variety
17 Nov 1969
p. 3.
Daily Variety
12 Jan 1970
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
16 Mar 1967
Section E, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
17 Apr 1968
Section D, p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
25 Apr 1968
Section E, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
7 May 1968
Section D, p. 19.
Los Angeles Times
14 Nov 1968
Section H, p. 23.
Los Angeles Times
28 Nov 1968
Section G, p. 25.
Los Angeles Times
6 Dec 1968
Section H, p. 27.
Los Angeles Times
18 Dec 1969
Section D, p. 26.
Los Angeles Times
19 Dec 1969
Section D, p. 1.
New York Times
24 May 1966.
---
New York Times
1 Jun 1967
p. 52.
New York Times
28 Oct 1968
p. 94.
New York Times
19 Nov 1969
p. 48.
New York Times
4 Jan 1970
p. 81.
Variety
7 Jun 1967
p. 3.
Variety
3 Apr 1968
p. 3.
Variety
24 Jul 1968
p. 7.
Variety
16 Oct 1968
p. 30.
Variety
13 Nov 1968
p. 25.
Variety
11 Dec 1968
p. 26.
Variety
22 Jan 1969
p. 24,
Variety
17 Sep 1969
p. 3.
Variety
24 Sep 1969
p. 3.
Variety
4 Feb 1970
p. 9.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp & cond
SOUND
Re-reccording
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff tech
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Arrangement by Elia Kazan (New York, 1967).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
18 November 1969
Premiere Information:
New York world premiere: 18 November 1969
New York opening: 19 November 1969
Los Angeles opening: 19 December 1969
Production Date:
began 14 October 1968
Copyright Claimants:
Athena Enterprises Corp. Warner Bros.--Sever Arts, Inc.
Copyright Dates:
1 December 1969 1 December 1969
Copyright Numbers:
LP37989 LP37989
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
127
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Leaving behind his luxurious Los Angeles estate, successful advertising executive Eddie Anderson (a second-generation immigrant) on his way to his agency is triggered into a suicide attempt by the noise and rush of the Los Angeles freeway: he folds his arms and smiles maniacally as his imported sports car rams into a truck. He is not killed, but convalescing at home he refuses to speak except to inform his boss, Finnegan, that he will not return. He daydreams about his stormy relationship with Gwen, a voluptuous research assistant at the agency who has fascinated him by her sneering disdain of his tyrannical success as the idea-man at the agency (selling "clean" Zephyr cigarettes). Psychiatrist Dr. Leibman, engaged to treat him, is told briefly of his history by Eddie's wife, Florence, who knows about Gwen and reveals that Eddie's interest in sex ended when he broke off the affair. That night a horrendous nightmare brings Eddie out of his self-imposed silence, and as he tells Florence of his loathing for his life of perpetual "arrangements," she tries to listen sympathetically, hoping to spur his self-confidence, but periodically lapses into a bitter riposte because of his adultery. She persuades him to return to work, but cries herself bitterly to sleep when they cannot make love or achieve any satisfaction from their new understanding. Eddie's return is dramatic, but he insults an important client, upsets a number of office applecarts, and departs in a small plane with which he crazily buzzes the city. His lawyer, Arthur, prevents his arrest and induces Eddie to give Florence his power of attorney before he departs for New York to visit his ailing, senile father, Sam. ... +


Leaving behind his luxurious Los Angeles estate, successful advertising executive Eddie Anderson (a second-generation immigrant) on his way to his agency is triggered into a suicide attempt by the noise and rush of the Los Angeles freeway: he folds his arms and smiles maniacally as his imported sports car rams into a truck. He is not killed, but convalescing at home he refuses to speak except to inform his boss, Finnegan, that he will not return. He daydreams about his stormy relationship with Gwen, a voluptuous research assistant at the agency who has fascinated him by her sneering disdain of his tyrannical success as the idea-man at the agency (selling "clean" Zephyr cigarettes). Psychiatrist Dr. Leibman, engaged to treat him, is told briefly of his history by Eddie's wife, Florence, who knows about Gwen and reveals that Eddie's interest in sex ended when he broke off the affair. That night a horrendous nightmare brings Eddie out of his self-imposed silence, and as he tells Florence of his loathing for his life of perpetual "arrangements," she tries to listen sympathetically, hoping to spur his self-confidence, but periodically lapses into a bitter riposte because of his adultery. She persuades him to return to work, but cries herself bitterly to sleep when they cannot make love or achieve any satisfaction from their new understanding. Eddie's return is dramatic, but he insults an important client, upsets a number of office applecarts, and departs in a small plane with which he crazily buzzes the city. His lawyer, Arthur, prevents his arrest and induces Eddie to give Florence his power of attorney before he departs for New York to visit his ailing, senile father, Sam. In New York he finds Gwen, who has had a child whose father she will not name; she is now living platonically with Charles, an admirer. When Eddie's brother Michael, sister-in-law Gloria, and Florence arrive and threaten the hospitalized old man with institutionalization, Eddie "kidnaps" and takes him to their old family estate on Long Island, where he induces Gwen to come and resume their affair. They are in bed--Eddie pleading with Gwen to marry him and she furiously recounting with great detail all of the affairs she has had since they parted--when Gloria and Florence burst in. They manage to get old Sam into an ambulance, and Eddie is once again reassured and seduced into accepting "arrangements" by Arthur, Florence, and his daughter, Ellen. Gwen soon leaves with Charles, and after Eddie and Florence have another violent confrontation, he goes to Gwen only to be shot by Charles. He then angrily sets the house on fire and is himself sent to a mental hospital. Gwen induces him to leave the institution and escorts him to his father's funeral. He stares vacantly at the grave, surrounded by wife, mistress, lawyer, and family. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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