Plot: What’s it about?
Eddie Anderson (Kirk Douglas) has had a successful career as a copywriter, but of late, he has started to think about what might have been. He is middle aged now, but when he was a young man he had all the potential in the world, more talent than most at the least. One morning as he drove to work, he steered his car into the path of a huge semi-truck. His life could have ended at that time, but his suicide attempt failed, so he was back in his own life again. Those around him never saw this kind of event coming, so they search for answers as to why he would resort to such drastic measures. In the meanwhile, Eddie continues to delve into his own mind, thinking about lost opportunities he allowed to pass him. Soon however, things take a turn for the even worse, as his father becomes quite ill and his marriage spirals toward the abyss. Not just that, but an affair Eddie engaged in with a coworker seems to have brought more than expected, in the form of a child. As Eddie tries to cope with his past failures, even as his current situation falls apart, can he hold on and turn his life around?
This is a movie I wanted to see and hoped to like, but sadly, The Arrangement didn’t live up to my expectations. The premise is one rich with potential, perhaps too much, as the movie seems too unfocused. A duration of over two hours should be ample in most cases, but Elia Kazan tries to stuff too much into those two hours. A tighter focus could have streamlined the concept and allowed a more in depth exploration, instead of a “mile wide, inch deep” approach. I think movies like this need depth and while this one tries, it has too many plates spinning at once. In addition, even Kazan admits that Kirk Douglas wasn’t the best choice for the role and his performance lessens the picture. Of course Kazan wanted Marlon Brando, who even agreed to star, but things fell apart and Douglas stepped in. Douglas is passable here, but never brings the emotional depth that the role demands. Faye Dunaway is hot and turns in some solid work, while the supporting cast boasts Deborah Kerr, Richard Boone, and Hume Cronyn. You can also tell Kazan was trying a bold new style with his direction here, but it just doesn’t work. Warner’s disc is not that great either, so unless you’re in dire need of a movie, The Arrangement can be skipped.
Video: How does it look?
The Arrangement is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. I’ve tried to keep an open mind about transfers in this post high definition run, but its hard. The transfer here however, isn’t even up to the normal standards for DVDs, so no matter how you slice it, this is a mediocre effort. I don’t mind grain, but the grain here is so thick at times, it drowns out the visuals. A few scenes don’t even look like final cut material, it is that bad. As far as color and contrast, the grain impacts those elements as well. This is just a total disappointment, poor work from Warner here.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included mono option is nothing to write home about, but as far as mono is concerned, this track is more than solid. I was pleased to find minimal age related defects, such as hiss, distortion, and harshness, so while the track isn’t too memorable, it never dips below an acceptable watermark, either. The music sounds as good as mono allows, which is the case with the sound effects also, about all we can ask here. As with most Shakespearean efforts, some of the dialogue flies by fast and some might have trouble picking up all the words, but this track supplies dialogue that is clean & crisp throughout. This disc also includes a French language track, as well English subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes a vintage promotional featurette, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.