The Thomas Crown Affair (1968 film)

The Thomas Crown Affair is a 1968 American heist film starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. Directed and produced by Norman Jewison, it was nominated for two Academy Awards, winning Best Original Song for Michel Legrand's "The Windmills of Your Mind". A remake was released in 1999.

The Thomas Crown Affair
Theatrical release poster
Directed byNorman Jewison
Written byAlan Trustman
Produced byNorman Jewison
CinematographyHaskell Wexler
Edited byHal Ashby
Ralph E. Winters
Byron Brandt
Music byMichel Legrand
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • June 19, 1968 (1968-06-19)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$4.3 million[1]
Box office$14 million[2]

Plot edit

Millionaire businessman-sportsman Thomas Crown is a handsome, dashing, cultured adrenaline junkie. Out of boredom, he masterminds a near perfect crime by organizing a five-man heist of $2,660,527.62 from a Boston bank ($17.8 million in 2023 dollars[3]), with the getaway driver dumping the money in a quiet cemetery trash can. None of the men ever meet Crown face to face, nor know or meet each other before the robbery. Crown retrieves the money after secretly trailing the drop. He deposits it into a numbered bank account in Geneva over several trips to avoid drawing undue attention to his actions.

Independent investigator Vicki Anderson is contracted by the bank’s insurance company to investigate the heist; she will receive 10% of the stolen money if she recovers it. Speculating that whoever planned the robbery was familiar with the bank's routines because he had an account there, and that the stolen money has been spirited to Switzerland, Vicki and the police draw up a list of bank customers who have made several recent trips to Geneva. When she sees Crown's profile on the list, she intuitively recognizes him as capable of orchestrating the robbery, and shortly thereafter guesses the cellular method that he used to organize the robbers.

Growing closer to her quarry, Vicki makes it clear to Crown that she knows he is the thief and that she intends to prove it. A game of cat and mouse ensues, which spurs both a physical and emotional attraction that soon evolves into an affair. This complicates Vicki's vow to find the money and help detective friend Eddy Malone bring the perpetrator to justice.

A reward offer entices the wife of the getaway driver, Erwin Weaver, to inform on him for $25,000 ($167,000 in 2023 dollars[3]). Vicki finds out that he was hired by a man he never saw but whose voice he heard (via a microphone). She tries putting Erwin in the same room as Crown, but there is no hint of recognition on either's part.

While Vicki is clearly closing in on Crown, even using the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as leverage against his liquid assets, he forces her to realize the extent of her conflicted emotions. When she seemingly persuades him to negotiate an end, Eddy stubbornly refuses to make any deal, leaving her torn between the men, her convictions, and her heart.

Crown organizes another robbery exactly like the first with different accomplices and tells Vicki where the "drop" will be, because he has to know for sure that she is on his side. The robbery goes off like clockwork.

Choosing her loyalty, Vicki and the police stake out the cemetery, where they watch one of the robbers make the drop, then lie in wait to ambush Crown. However, when his Rolls-Royce arrives, he has sent a messenger in his place, with a telegram inviting her to either bring the money and join him or keep the car as a concession prize. Reflexively smiling at him eluding her trap, she soon realizes she had revealed her hand yet gained nothing in return. Tearing the telegram to bits, she strews the pieces to the wind, tearfully staring at the sky while Crown escapes unruffled overhead.

The audience never learns whether there was actually money in the bags dropped at the cemetery or not, nor what becomes of Vicky following her blurred role of playing both ends against the middle—trying to entice a criminal to confess or entrap him—while simultaneously abetting him in concealing the original crime and perpetrating a new one successfully.

Cast edit

Production edit

A pioneering split screen photography technique used to show simultaneous actions was inspired by the breakthrough Expo 67 films In the Labyrinth and A Place to Stand. The latter debuted the use of Christopher Chapman's "multi-dynamic image technique" of images shifting on moving panes.[4][5] Steve McQueen was on hand for an advance screening of A Place to Stand in Hollywood, and personally told Chapman he was highly impressed; the following year, Norman Jewison incorporated the technique into the film by inserting split screen scenes into the already finished product.[5]

The film also features a chess scene, with McQueen and Dunaway playing a game of chess, silently flirting with each other.[6] The game depicted is based on a game played in Vienna in 1898 between Gustav Zeissl and Walter von Walthoffen.[7][8]

McQueen performed his own stunts, which include playing polo and driving a dune buggy at high speed along the Massachusetts coastline.[9]

Vicki Anderson's car, referred to as "one of those red Italian things",[10] is the first of only ten Ferrari 275 GTB/4S NART Spiders built.[9] Today, this model is one of the most valuable Ferrari road cars of all time. [10] McQueen liked the car very much, and eventually managed to acquire one for himself. [9] The dune buggy was a Meyers Manx.[citation needed] McQueen owned one.[citation needed] Crown's two-door Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow carried the Massachusetts vanity license plate "TC 100" for the film.

Sean Connery had been the original choice for the title role, but turned it down — a decision he later regretted.[11] Johnny Carson also turned down the role.[12]

Filming locations edit

The movie was filmed primarily on location in Boston and surrounding areas in Massachusetts and New Hampshire:

Other locations included:

Release edit

The Thomas Crown Affair had its world premiere in Boston on June 19, 1968, with openings in Los Angeles and New York on June 26, 1968, and a nationwide release in August 1968.[15]

This movie's release introduced United Artists' new logo that shows the iconic Transamerica "T" and the byline, "Entertainment from Transamerica Corporation".[citation needed]

The Thomas Crown Affair made its U.S. television premiere on NBC Saturday Night at the Movies in September 1972.

Home media edit

The film was released on DVD by MGM Home Entertainment in the United States in February 1999 with two special features, an audio commentary by director Norman Jewison and theatrical trailer.[16] It was first released on Blu-ray Disc on February 1, 2011, with the same extra supplements.[17] On February 13, 2018, Kino Lorber (under license from MGM) released a Blu-ray 50th anniversary edition with six extra features, including an original featurette with cast and crew interviews, audio commentary by film historians Lem Dobbs and Nick Redman, and an interview with the director.[18]

Reception edit

Box office edit

The film was successful at the box office, grossing $14 million on a $4.3 million budget.[2]

Critical response edit

Reviews at the time were mixed. Critics praised the chemistry between McQueen and Dunaway and Norman Jewison's stylish direction, but considered the plotting and writing rather thin. Roger Ebert gave it 2½ stars out of four, and called it "possibly the most under-plotted, underwritten, over-photographed film of the year. Which is not to say it isn't great to look at. It is."[19] As of 2020 the film held a rating of 70% from 40 reviews at the film aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes. The site's consensus states: "Steve McQueen settles into the role with ease and aplomb, in a film that whisks viewers into an exotic world with style and sex appeal."[20]

Awards and nominations edit

Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
Academy Awards Best Original Score for a Motion Picture (Not a Musical) Michel Legrand Nominated [21]
Best Song – Original for the Picture "The Windmills of Your Mind"
Music by Michel Legrand;
Lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman
British Academy Film Awards Anthony Asquith Award for Original Film Music Michel Legrand Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Original Score – Motion Picture Nominated [23]
Best Original Song – Motion Picture "The Windmills of Your Mind"
Music by Michel Legrand;
Lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman
Laurel Awards Top Action-Drama 5th Place
Top Male Dramatic Performance Steve McQueen 5th Place

Soundtrack edit

The Thomas Crown Affair
Soundtrack album by
Released1968 (original)
June 10, 2014 (expansion)
Length70:39 (expansion)
LabelUnited Artists Records (original)
Quartet (expansion)

The music was composed and conducted by Michel Legrand, scoring his first major American film. Director Norman Jewison had hoped to hire Henry Mancini for the project, but he was unavailable and recommended Legrand; he wrote his music as long pieces rather than specifically to scene timings, with the film later edited to the music by Legrand, Jewison and editor Hal Ashby. In addition, Legrand also had to prepare an original song to replace "Strawberry Fields Forever", used as the temporary track for the glider scene. Taking Quincy Jones' advice, Legrand worked with the Bergmans to compose "The Windmills of Your Mind" and a second song, "His Eyes, Her Eyes"; Noel Harrison recorded "The Windmills of Your Mind" after Jewison failed to get his friend Andy Williams to do it, while Legrand performed "His Eyes, Her Eyes". Although the film's score was recorded in Hollywood, featuring Vincent DeRosa, Bud Shank, Carol Kaye, Emil Richards, Ray Brown and Shelly Manne, the album re-recording issued by United Artists Records on LP was done in France under the composer's baton; Jewison said it was the favorite score for any of his films.[25]

The original album was later reissued by Rykodisc in 1998 on CD, with five dialogue excerpts and the inclusion of "Moments of Love" and "Doubting Thomas". Varèse Sarabande re-released the album in 2004 (without the dialogue excerpts). In 2014, Quartet Records issued a limited edition CD featuring the previously released album tracks (1–13 below) and the premiere release of the film version.

Expanded album track listing edit

  1. "The Windmills of Your Mind", performed by Noel Harrison – 2:24
  2. "Room Service" – 1:41
  3. "A Man's Castle" – 2:41
  4. "The Chess Game" – 5:58
  5. "Cash and Carry" – 2:35
  6. "His Eyes, Her Eyes", performed by Michel Legrand – 2:17
  7. "Playing the Field" – 5:48
  8. "Moments of Love" – 2:19
  9. "The Boston Wrangler" – 2:49
  10. "Doubting Thomas" – 3:48
  11. "The Crowning Touch" – 2:59
  12. "The Windmills of Your Mind" – 2:22
  13. "His Eyes, Her Eyes" – 2:15
  14. "The Windmills of Your Mind", performed by Noel Harrison – 2:25
  15. "Knock, Knock" – 0:50
  16. "The Gang" – 3:02
  17. "Getaway" – 0:52
  18. "Escapeline" – 1:28
  19. "Cemetery" – 1:20
  20. "More Cemetery" – 1:19
  21. "Enter Vicky" – 0:25
  22. "The Windmills of Your Mind", performed by Noel Harrison – 1:25
  23. "Polo" – 0:47
  24. "Brandy" – 1:33
  25. "Chess Anyone?" – 4:26
  26. "Let's Play Something Else" – 1:18
  27. "Togetherness" – 1:38
  28. "Don't Bug Me" – 1:15
  29. "Beach House" – 1:01
  30. "Love Montage" – 1:21
  31. "No Deals" – 1:01
  32. "All My Love, Tommy" – 3:07

In popular culture edit

  • The film's famous kissing scene, which is depicted on the film's poster, was used in Hal Ashby's satire film Being There (1979). Ashby was The Thomas Crown Affair's associate producer and editor.
  • In 1998, pop star Madonna released a video for her single "The Power of Good-Bye", based on the chess scene from the movie.

Franchise edit

Remake edit

The 1999 remake was released starring Pierce Brosnan as Crown, Rene Russo as the insurance investigator, and Denis Leary as the detective. The original film's co-star Faye Dunaway also appears as Crown's therapist. This adaptation is different from the original in that it is set in New York rather than Boston, and the robbery is of a priceless painting, a Monet, instead of cash, among other story line differences, including the complete lack of violence in Thomas Crown's crimes.[26]

False starts edit

In January 2007, a sequel to the 1999 movie, loosely based on Topkapi (1964), was announced as being in development.[27] By January 2009, Brosnan confirmed his involvement while announcing Paul Verhoeven as director.[28] By April 2010, Verhoeven stepped down from his role as director, citing creative differences and scheduling conflicts.[29] At various points in time, both Angelina Jolie and Charlize Theron were in dicussions for roles in the film, with Brosnan expressing interest in having Theron co-star.[30] In April 2013, Brosnan acknowledged the project's status in development hell, while stating he is still interested in developing the film.[31] In April 2014, John McTiernan revealed that he had written a treatment for the script, titled "Thomas Crown and the Missing Lioness". The initial script had been written by John Rogers from a story he had co-written with Harley Peyton, while additional material was provided by Nick Meyer, Michael Finch and Karl Gajdusek.[32]

In 2016, Michael B. Jordan had approached Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to pitch a new adapatation of the story, with hopes of starring in the lead role.[33][34]

Potential edit

In April 2023, after having acquired MGM, Amazon announced plans to reboot the franchise, with a new feature film in development through the company's Amazon Studios.[35]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Balio, Tino (1987). United Artists: The Company That Changed the Film Industry. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 187. ISBN 978-0-299-11440-4.
  2. ^ a b "The Thomas Crown Affair, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Archived from the original on June 27, 2012. Retrieved May 23, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Johnston, Louis; Williamson, Samuel H. (2023). "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved November 30, 2023. United States Gross Domestic Product deflator figures follow the MeasuringWorth series.
  4. ^ Atherton, Tony (July 10, 2000). "When camera and gun collide". Ottawa Citizen. pp. D7.
  5. ^ a b Scrivener, Leslie (April 22, 2007). "Forty years on, a song retains its standing". The Star. Toronto. Archived from the original on September 25, 2012. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  6. ^ Fulwood, Neil (2003), One hundred sex scenes that changed cinema, Batsford, p. 32, ISBN 978-0-7134-8858-6
  7. ^ Wall, Bill (October 29, 2009). "The Thomas Crown Affair". Archived from the original on April 28, 2018. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  8. ^ "Zeissl-Walthoffen". Archived from the original on October 25, 2017. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  9. ^ a b c Stone, Matt (2007). McQueen's Machines: The Cars and Bikes of a Hollywood Icon. Minneapolis, Minnesota: MBI Publishing Company. pp. 82–83. ISBN 978-0-7603-3895-7.
  10. ^ a b A Ferrari Spider Goes For A Grand Tour, Road and Track, Blake Z. Rong,: April 30, 2016
  11. ^ Jaccarino, Mike (August 28, 2011). "'Thomas Crown Affair' screenwriter Alan Trustman talks films, working with Steve McQueen". NY Daily News. Archived from the original on December 28, 2013. Retrieved July 21, 2013.
  12. ^ Tynan, Kenneth (February 20, 1978). "The World of Johnny Carson". The New Yorker.
  13. ^ Reeves, Tony. "Filming Locations for The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), around Boston". Archived from the original on September 1, 2013. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
  14. ^ "Aircraft Data N9860E, 1965 Schweizer SGS 1-23H-15 C/N 69". Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2013.
  15. ^ "The Thomas Crown Affair". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on June 6, 2019. Retrieved January 3, 2020.
  16. ^ "The Thomas Crown Affair DVD". Blu-ray. Archived from the original on January 3, 2020. Retrieved January 3, 2020.
  17. ^ "The Thomas Crown Affair Blu-ray". Blu-ray. February 1, 2011. Archived from the original on January 3, 2020. Retrieved January 3, 2020.
  18. ^ "The Thomas Crown Affair Blu-ray: 50th anniversary edition". Blu-ray. February 13, 2018. Archived from the original on January 3, 2020. Retrieved January 3, 2020.
  19. ^ Ebert, Roger (August 27, 1968). "Thomas Crown Affair". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on September 26, 2020. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
  20. ^ "The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on November 16, 2020. Retrieved February 10, 2024.
  21. ^ "The 41st Academy Awards | 1969". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  22. ^ "BAFTA Awards: Film in 1970". BAFTA. 1969. Retrieved June 3, 2021.
  23. ^ "The Thomas Crown Affair – Golden Globes". HFPA. Retrieved June 3, 2021.
  24. ^ "The Thomas Crown Affair – Awards". IMDb. Retrieved June 3, 2021.
  25. ^ Stéphane Lerouge, "Michel Legrand: The Windmills of His Mind," liner notes, expanded MGM motion picture soundtrack, Quartet QR 158
  26. ^ Hassannia, Tina (May 12, 2013). "Remake/Remodel: The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) vs. The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)". Spectrum Culture. Retrieved April 15, 2023.
  27. ^ Martindale, Stone (January 26, 2007). "Pierce Brosnan: Thomas Crown in The Topkapi Affair". Monsters and Critics. Archived from the original on February 4, 2011. Retrieved April 15, 2023.
  28. ^ Fischer, Paul (January 20, 2009). "Brosnan offers Topkapi update". Moviehole. Archived from the original on April 22, 2012. Retrieved April 15, 2023.
  29. ^ Rosenberg, Adam (April 15, 2010). "Exclusive: Paul Verhoeven No Longer Attached To Direct 'The Thomas Crown Affair 2'". Movies Blog. MTV. Archived from the original on September 13, 2010. Retrieved April 15, 2023.
  30. ^ Holmes, Matt (June 25, 2011). "Pierce Brosnan wants Charlize Theron over Angelina Jolie for THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR 2". WhatCulture. Retrieved April 15, 2023.
  31. ^ "Brosnan: Thomas Crown 2 is dormant". Irish Independent. April 21, 2013. Retrieved April 15, 2023.
  32. ^ [1] Archived April 29, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  33. ^ "The Thomas Crown Affair Remake to Star Michael B. Jordan". /Film. February 24, 2016. Archived from the original on October 29, 2020. Retrieved April 15, 2023.
  34. ^ Kit, Borys (February 24, 2016). "Michael B. Jordan, MGM to Remake 'The Thomas Crown Affair' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on November 21, 2019. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  35. ^ Andreeva, Nellie & Peter White (April 14, 2023). "'Robocop,' 'Stargate', 'Legally Blonde' & 'Barbershop' Among Titles In Works For Film & TV As Amazon Looks To Supercharge MGM IP". Deadline. Retrieved April 15, 2023.

External links edit