The Thomas Crown Affair (1968 film)

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The Thomas Crown Affair
Crown A.jpg
Theatrical re-release poster, 1975
Directed by Norman Jewison
Produced by Norman Jewison
Written by Alan Trustman
Starring Steve McQueen
Faye Dunaway
Paul Burke
Jack Weston
Music by Michel Legrand
Cinematography Haskell Wexler
Edited by Hal Ashby
Ralph E. Winters
Byron Brandt
Production
company
The Mirisch Corporation
Simkoe
Solar Productions
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • June 19, 1968 (1968-06-19)
Running time
102 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $4.3 million[1]
Box office $14,000,000[2]

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.

Plot[edit]

Millionaire businessman-sportsman Thomas Crown (Steve McQueen) pulls off a perfect crime by orchestrating four men to rob $2,660,527.62 from a Boston bank, along with a fifth man who drives the getaway Ford station wagon with the money and dumps it in a cemetery trash can. None of the men ever meets Crown face-to-face, nor do they know or meet each other before the robbery. Crown retrieves the money from the trash can personally after secretly following the driver of the station wagon, then personally deposits the money into an anonymous Swiss bank account in Geneva, making several trips, never depositing the money all at once so as to not draw undue attention to his actions.

Independent insurance investigator Vicki Anderson (Faye Dunaway) is contracted to investigate the heist and will receive 10% of the stolen money if she recovers it. When Thomas first comes to her attention as a possible suspect, she intuitively recognizes him as the mastermind behind the robbery.

Thomas does not need the money, and in fact masterminded the robbery as a game. Vicki makes it clear to him that she knows that he is the thief and that she intends to prove it. They start a game of cat and mouse, with the attraction between them evident. Their relationship soon evolves into an affair, complicated by Vicki's vow to find the money and help 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 he was hired by a man he never saw, but whose voice he heard. 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 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 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 and the police stake out the cemetery, where they watch one of the robbers make the drop, and wait for Thomas to show up so they can arrest him. When his Rolls Royce arrives, however, 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.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

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.[3][4] 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.[4]

The film also features a chess scene, with McQueen and Dunaway playing a game of chess, silently flirting with each other.[5] The photography is unusual for a mainstream Hollywood film, using a split-screen mode. McQueen undertook his own stunts, which include playing polo and driving a dune buggy at high speed along the Massachusetts coastline.[6] 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.[6] Today, this model is one of the most valuable Ferrari road cars of all time. McQueen liked the car very much, and eventually managed to acquire one for himself. The dune buggy was a Meyers Manx, built in California on a VW beetle floor pan with a hopped-up Corvair engine. McQueen owned one, and the Manx, the original "dune buggy", was often copied. Crown's Rolls Royce carried Mass. vanity license tag "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.[7] The character was portrayed by another actor who had portrayed James Bond, Pierce Brosnan, in the 1999 remake.

Filming locations[edit]

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

  • 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.[8]
  • The 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. The current location is noted as 44 Water Street, the offices of private investment firm Brown Brothers. The interiors were renovated and partially restored in 1999 by the firm GHK, Malcolm Higbee-Glace, Project Manager.
  • 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 1-23H glider was flown at Salem, New Hampshire.[9] by Roy McMaster (Not Steve McQueen).
  • 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:

Reception[edit]

The film was moderately successful at the box office, grossing $14 million on a $4.3 million budget.[2] Even though it is now regarded as a cult movie, 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 212 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."[10]

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.

Remake[edit]

The 1999 remake stars 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 version is different from the original in that it is set in New York rather than Boston and the robbery is of a priceless painting instead of cash, amongst other story line differences.

References [edit]

  1. ^ Tino Balio, United Artists: The Company That Changed the Film Industry, University of Wisconsin Press, 1987 p. 187
  2. ^ a b "The Thomas Crown Affair, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved May 23, 2012. 
  3. ^ Atherton, Tony (2000-07-10). "When camera and gun collide". Ottawa Citizen. pp. D7. 
  4. ^ a b Scrivener, Leslie (2007-04-22). "Forty years on, a song retains its standing". The Star (Toronto). 
  5. ^ Neil Fulwood (2003), One hundred sex scenes that changed cinema, p. 32, ISBN 978-0-7134-8858-6 
  6. ^ a b 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. 
  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. 
  8. ^ Movie-Locations.com
  9. ^ http://www.airport-data.com/aircraft/N9860E.html
  10. ^ Ebert, Roger (1968-08-27). "Thomas Crown Affair". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2008-06-04. 

External links[edit]