The Thomas Crown Affair (1968 film)
|The Thomas Crown Affair|
|Directed by||Norman Jewison|
|Written by||Alan Trustman|
|Produced by||Norman Jewison|
|Edited by||Hal Ashby|
Ralph E. Winters
|Music by||Michel Legrand|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Box office||$14 million|
The Thomas Crown Affair is a 1968 American heist film directed and produced by Norman Jewison and starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. 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.
Millionaire businessman-sportsman Thomas Crown accomplishes a perfect crime by orchestrating four men to steal $2,660,527.62 from a Boston bank ($22,389,167 in 2022 dollars ), along with a fifth man who drives the getaway car with the money and dumps it in a cemetery trash can. None of the men ever meet Crown face to face, nor do they know or meet each other before the robbery. Crown retrieves the money from the trash can after secretly following the driver of the getaway car. He deposits the money into an anonymous Swiss bank account in Geneva, making several trips, never depositing the money all at once so as not to draw undue attention to his actions.
Independent insurance investigator Vicki Anderson is contracted to investigate the heist; she 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, and shortly thereafter guesses that he organized the robbers so none of the men knew him or met each other.
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 Eddy Malone bring the guilty party to justice.
A reward offer entices the wife of the bank robbery's getaway driver, Erwin Weaver to "fink" on him for $25,000 ($210,383 in 2022 dollars ). 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 Thomas, but there is no hint of recognition on either one's part.
However, while Vicki is clearly closing in on Thomas, using the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as leverage against his liquid assets, he forces her to realize that she is also becoming hemmed-in by her emotions. When she (seemingly) persuades him to negotiate an end, his point is proven when Eddy stubbornly refuses to make any deal.
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 they wait for Thomas to arrive so they can arrest him. However, 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 if not, "you keep the car". 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 Eddy Malone
- Jack Weston as Erwin
- Biff McGuire as Sandy
- Addison Powell as Abe
- Gordon Pinsent as Jamie
- Yaphet Kotto as Carl
- Sidney Armus as Arnie
- Richard Bull as Booth Guard
- Peg Shirley as Honey
- Tom Rosqui as Private Detective
- Michael Shillo as Swiss Banker
- Astrid Heeren as Gwen
The photography is unusual for a mainstream Hollywood film, using a split-screen mode. 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, the 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 a chess scene, with McQueen and Dunaway playing a game of chess, silently flirting with each other. The game depicted is based on a game played in Vienna in 1898 between Gustav Zeissl and Walter von Walthoffen.
McQueen undertook his own stunts, which include playing polo and driving a dune buggy at high speed along 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 miles per hour (160 km/h). In an interview, McQueen would later say this was his favorite film.
Vicki Anderson's car, referred to as "one of those red Italian things," (the Alfa Romeo Spider was the marque frequently distinguished as such), is the first of only ten Ferrari 275 GTB/4S NART Spiders built. 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 Chevrolet Corvair engine. McQueen owned one, and the Manx, the original dune buggy, was often copied. Crown's two-door Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow carried Massachusetts 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. In the 1999 remake, the title role was portrayed by another actor who had portrayed James Bond, Pierce Brosnan.
The movie 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.
- 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, Massachusetts, 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 Mount Auburn 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. 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:
- the Allston-Brighton tollbooths (demolished in 2016) 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 Loews Boston Hotel)
- Cambridge Street and Linden Street, 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 Marliave Restaurant rooftop dining area, Bosworth Street, Boston where Dunaway is shown surveillance photos by Burke of McQueen kissing another woman
- the footpath on the Boston side of the Charles River, between the Weeks Footbridge and the Anderson Bridge with the dome of Dunster House visible in the background on the Cambridge side
- Dulles International Airport, Virginia, with signage making it look as though it were in Boston
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.
This movie's release introduced United Artists' new logo which showed the iconic Transamerica "T" and the byline, "Entertainment from Transamerica Corporation".
The Thomas Crown Affair made its US television premiere on NBC Saturday Night at the Movies in September 1972.
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. It was first released on Blu-ray Disc on February 1, 2011, with the same extra supplements. 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 Historian Lem Dobbs and Nick Redman and an interview with the director.
The film was successful at the box office, grossing $14 million on a $4.3 million budget.
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 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." On the film review website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a rating of 72% from 36 reviews. The site's consensus simply states that "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".
Awards and nominations
|Academy Awards||Best Original Score for a Motion Picture (Not a Musical)||Michel Legrand||Nominated|||
|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|||
|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|
|The Thomas Crown Affair|
|Soundtrack album by|
June 10, 2014 (expansion)
|Label||United Artists Records (original)|
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". While 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 favourite score for any of his films.
The original album was later reissued by Rykodisc in 1998 on compact disc, 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
- "The Windmills of Your Mind", performed by Noel Harrison – 2:24
- "Room Service" – 1:41
- "A Man's Castle" – 2:41
- "The Chess Game" – 5:58
- "Cash and Carry" – 2:35
- "His Eyes, Her Eyes", performed by Michel Legrand – 2:17
- "Playing the Field" – 5:48
- "Moments of Love" – 2:19
- "The Boston Wrangler" – 2:49
- "Doubting Thomas" – 3:48
- "The Crowning Touch" – 2:59
- "The Windmills of Your Mind" – 2:22
- "His Eyes, Her Eyes" – 2:15
- "The Windmills of Your Mind", performed by Noel Harrison – 2:25
- "Knock, Knock" – 0:50
- "The Gang" – 3:02
- "Getaway" – 0:52
- "Escapeline" – 1:28
- "Cemetery" – 1:20
- "More Cemetery" – 1:19
- "Enter Vicky" – 0:25
- "The Windmills of Your Mind", performed by Noel Harrison – 1:25
- "Polo" – 0:47
- "Brandy" – 1:33
- "Chess Anyone?" – 4:26
- "Let's Play Something Else" – 1:18
- "Togetherness" – 1:38
- "Don't Bug Me" – 1:15
- "Beach House" – 1:01
- "Love Montage" – 1:21
- "No Deals" – 1:01
- "All My Love, Tommy" – 3:07
In popular culture
The film's famous kissing scene, which is depicted on the film's poster, is famously 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.
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.
In January 2007, a sequel to the 1999 movie loosely based on Topkapi (1964), was announced as being in development. By January 2009, Brosnan confirmed his involvement while announcing Paul Verhoeven as director. By April 2010, Verhoeven stepped down from his role as director, citing creative differences and scheduling conflicts. At various different 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. In April 2013, Brosnan acknowledged the project's status in development hell, while stating he is still interested in developing the film. 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.
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. By April 2023 after previously acquiring MGM, Amazon announced plans to reboot the franchise, with a new feature film in development through the company's Amazon Studios.
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- 1968 films
- 1968 crime drama films
- 1960s heist films
- 1968 romantic drama films
- American crime drama films
- American heist films
- American romantic drama films
- Films scored by Michel Legrand
- Films about bank robbery
- Films directed by Norman Jewison
- Films set in Boston
- Films set in Massachusetts
- Films shot in Massachusetts
- Films shot in New Hampshire
- Films that won the Best Original Song Academy Award
- United Artists films
- 1960s English-language films
- 1960s American films