The Thomas Crown Affair (1968 film)
|The Thomas Crown Affair|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Norman Jewison|
|Produced by||Norman Jewison|
|Written by||Alan R. Trustman|
|Music by||Michel Legrand|
|Editing by||Hal Ashby
Ralph E. Winters
|Studio||The Mirisch Corporation
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Running time||102 minutes|
The Thomas Crown Affair is a 1968 film directed and produced by Norman Jewison starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. It was nominated for two Academy Awards, winning Best Original Song for Michel Legrand's "Windmills of Your Mind". A remake was released in 1999.
Thomas Crown (Steve McQueen), a millionaire businessman and sportsman, pulls off a perfect crime by having five men rob $2,660,527.62 from a Boston bank and dump the money in a cemetery trash can. Thomas never meets any of the five face-to-face, before or after the crime, and they do not know each other. He retrieves the money and deposits it anonymously at a bank in Geneva.
Vicki Anderson (Faye Dunaway), an independent insurance investigator, is contracted to investigate the heist and will receive a percentage of the stolen money if she recovers it. When Thomas comes to her attention as a possible suspect, she intuitively recognizes him as the mastermind behind the robbery.
Thomas does not need the money but is in need of diversions. He plays polo and golf, flies a glider, and drives a dune buggy but suffers from general boredom. Vicki makes it clear to him that she knows that he is the thief and intends to prove it. They start a game of cat and mouse, with the attraction between them evident, and their relationship soon evolves into an affair, complicated by Vicki's vow to find the money and help investigating police officer Detective Eddie Malone (Paul Burke) bring the guilty party to justice.
A reward offer entices the wife of the bank robbery's getaway driver, Erwin Weaver (Jack Weston), to "fink" on him. Vicki finds out that a man whom he never saw hired him. She tries putting Erwin in the same room as Thomas, but there is no hint of recognition on either one's part. However, Vicki is clearly closing in on Thomas.
Thomas organizes another robbery exactly like the first one and tells Vicki where the "drop" will be, because he has to know for sure that she is on his side. The robbery is successful, but there are gunshots and the viewer is left with the impression that people might have been killed, raising the stakes for Vicki's decision.
Vicki moves in with the cops at the cemetery where they watch one of the robbers make the drop and wait for Thomas to show up so they can arrest him, but when his Rolls Royce arrives, she sees that Thomas has sent a messenger in his place with a telegram asking her to bring the money and join him — or else keep the Rolls Royce as a gift. She tears the telegram to bits and throws the pieces to the wind, looking up at the sky with tears in her eyes. Crown flies away in a jet.
- Steve McQueen as Thomas Crown
- Faye Dunaway as Vicki Anderson
- Paul Burke as Detective Eddie Malone
- Jack Weston as Erwin Weaver
- Gordon Pinsent as Jamie McDonald
- Biff McGuire as Sandy
- Yaphet Kotto as Carl
- Addison Powell as Abe
- Astrid Heeren as Gwen
The use of split screens to show simultaneous actions was inspired by the breakthrough Expo 67 films In the Labyrinth and A Place to Stand, that latter of which pioneered the use of Christopher Chapman's "multi-dynamic image technique", images shifting on moving panes. 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 had incorporated the technique into the film, inserting the scenes into the already finished product.
The film also features the chess scene with McQueen and Dunaway play a game of chess, silently flirting with each other. The photography is unusual for a mainstream Hollywood film, using a split-screen mode. McQueen undertook his own stunts (playing polo) and driving a dune buggy at high speed on the Massachusetts coastline. This was similar to his starring role in the movie Bullitt, released a few months afterwards, in which he drove a Ford Mustang through San Francisco at more than 100 mph. In an interview, McQueen would later say this was his favorite film.
The car driven by Dunaway, referred to as "one of those red Italian things," is the first of only ten Ferrari 275 GTB/4 NART Spyders built. Today, this model is one of the most valuable Ferraris of all times. McQueen liked the car very much, and eventually managed to acquire one for himself.
- The Second Harrison Gray Otis House at 85 Mt. Vernon St. on Beacon Hill, designed by Massachusetts State House architect Charles Bulfinch in 1800 for Congressman Harrison Gray Otis, was Thomas Crown's residence.
- A robbery occurred in what was then the Beverly National Bank (fictitiously renamed Boston Mercantile Bank for the film), at the North Beverly Plaza, Beverly Ma. and 55 Congress St., Boston.
- A scene of the car theft was filmed in downtown Beverly across from City Hall.
- The money-dumpings were shot in Cambridge Cemetery, Coolidge Ave., Cambridge.
- The polo sequences were filmed at the Myopia Hunt Club, 435 Bay Road, South Hamilton.
- The golf sequences were filmed at the Belmont Country Club, 181 Winter St., Belmont.
- The auctions took place in the St. James Ballroom at the Eben Jordan Mansion, 46 Beacon St., Beacon Hill.
- Thomas drove his dune buggy on Crane Beach in Ipswich, Massachusetts.
- The Schweizer SGS 1-26 glider was flown at Salem, New Hampshire.
- The meat shop scene took place at Blackstone and North streets in Boston's North End.
- Thomas and Vicki walked in the rain in Copp's Hill Cemetery in Boston's North End.
- Thomas and Vicki kissed (wearing formal dress) at the top of Acorn Street on Beacon Hill, a narrow, cobblestoned lane often called "the most photographed street in America."
Other locations included:
- the Allston-Brighton tollbooths on the Massachusetts Turnpike;
- Anthony's Pier 4 restaurant at 140 Northern Ave. in South Boston's Seaport District;
- the Boston Common;
- the old Boston Police Headquarters on Berkeley Street (since renovated as the Back Bay Hotel);
- Cambridge Street and Linden Avenue, Allston;
- Copp's Hill Terrace in Boston's North End;
- the North End Greenmarket;
- South Station, 700 Atlantic Ave., Boston;
- the Tobin Bridge.
- the Prudential Tunnel portion of the Massachusetts Turnpike going under Huntington Avenue (then-future Massachusetts Route 9) - years before the Westin Hotel in Copley Square and the parking garage on Clarendon Street were built over the toll highway in a scene where McQueen was driving the getaway car
- the then-Dewey Square Tunnel (future Interstate 93) where McQueen emerged onto the Massachusetts Turnpike - a feat technically impossible since McQueen drove into the Prudential Tunnel one scene earlier
The film was moderately successful at the box office, grossing $14 million on a $4.3 million budget. Reviews at the time were mixed. The chemistry between McQueen and Dunaway and Norman Jewison's stylish direction were praised, but the plotting and writing were considered rather thin. Roger Ebert gave it 21⁄2 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." Despite its tepid reaction, it has since become a cult film and inspired a 1999 remake starring Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo.
The film won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for "Windmills of Your Mind" by Michel Legrand (music), Marilyn Bergman and Alan Bergman (lyrics). It was also nominated for Original Music Score for Legrand's score.
This version is different from the original in that it is set in New York rather than Boston, the robbery is of a priceless painting instead of cash, and the ending is happier with Crown and the insurance investigator reuniting on a plane.
- Tino Balio, United Artists: The Company The Changed the Film Industry, Uni of Wisconsin Press, 1987 p 187
- "The Thomas Crown Affair, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved May 23, 2012.
- Atherton, Tony (2000-07-10). "When camera and gun collide". Ottawa Citizen. pp. D7.
- Scrivener, Leslie (2007-04-22). "Forty years on, a song retains its standing". The Star (Toronto).
- Neil Fulwood (2003), One hundred sex scenes that changed cinema, p. 32, ISBN 978-0-7134-8858-6
- 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.
- Jaccarino, Mike (28 August 2011). "'Thomas Crown Affair' screenwriter Alan Trustman talks films, working with Steve McQueen". NY Daily News. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
- Ebert, Roger (1968-08-27). "Thomas Crown Affair". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2008-06-04.
- The Thomas Crown Affair at the Internet Movie Database
- The Thomas Crown Affair at the TCM Movie Database