The Thomas Crown Affair (1999 film)
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|The Thomas Crown Affair|
Original theatrical poster
|Directed by||John McTiernan|
|Produced by||Michael Tadross
Beau St. Clair
|Screenplay by||Leslie Dixon
|Story by||Alan Trustman|
|Music by||Bill Conti|
|Edited by||John Wright|
|Distributed by||United Artists
The Thomas Crown Affair is a 1999 American heist film directed by John McTiernan. The film, starring Pierce Brosnan, Rene Russo and Denis Leary, is a remake of the 1968 film of the same name. The film generally received positive reviews. It was a success at the box office, grossing $124 million worldwide.
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, an attempted robbery of precious paintings fails when museum employees discover imposters posing as staff who have been smuggled in using a Trojan Horse. In all the confusion of locking down the museum and capturing the robbers, billionaire Thomas Crown (Pierce Brosnan) slips into an adjacent room and steals the painting of San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk by Monet. The insurers of the $100 million artwork send investigator Catherine Banning (Rene Russo) to assist NYPD Detective Michael McCann (Denis Leary) in solving the crime. McCann is annoyed that he has a civilian involved in the investigation, but is attracted to Banning. He asks his second in command to do a background check on her and finds she is more than just a pretty face.
The next morning as the police are reviewing video of the robbery, Banning shows up. They notice that the room containing the Monet couldn't be seen on the screen. In discussing why with a museum employee, they deduce that something caused the temperature to rise in that room so the new cameras couldn't differentiate between people and walls. She goes back to the room with Michael where she realizes that one of the benches only has two legs when in the video it had three. They then brainstorm over what could have been in the briefcase to cause the change in temperature. Crown not only shows up to finger one of the detained robbers, but donates one of his own personal paintings that fits the same space as the Monet. After watching Crown, she looks up who has been attempting to buy Monets and finds his name on the list again and again. She convinces Michael to let her begin surveillance on him and finds that he is someone who would steal the painting not for the money, but for the excitement. After the press conference donating the new painting, Catherine attracts Crown by intimating that she knows he what he did. On her way out, he asks her for a date and she accepts.
Before the date, Crown goes to see his therapist (Faye Dunaway), who notices a change in her patient. On their first date, Crown takes her to the museum and then to dinner, all while being tailed by the police. Their attraction is evident as is their intimate knowledge of each other's background. Catherine gets her hands on his keys has a copy made for later. When he drops her off, he reveals he knows she has no furniture in her apartment and she returns his keys without him knowing they were ever gone. They both feel a palpable change is about to occur in their lives and press on with the cat and mouse game.
The next day, she illegally enters into Thomas' house and searches for the painting. Along with her team they search the entire house to no avail until she enters his study. She presses a button under the desk that opens a panel in the wall and finds the Monet. She triumphantly enters the police station where an expert is waiting to authenticate it. They find that is was a witty copy, painted over the kitschy "Dogs Playing Cards". Enraged, she asks where to find Crown. He is at a Black and White Ball and she crashes, interrupting a dance with his beautiful young date. She angrily tells him she doesn't need him to lend her clues, and he responds that he can't be arrested for a joke. After a hot dance, they kiss and end up at Crown's home where they have sex in every room (and the stairs). At breakfast, his valet brings her the distinct drink she had her first day in New York, causing her to bemoan that he knew she would sleep with him (which she denied would happen on their first date). They begin to date regularly and he even takes her to his home on a Caribbean island that he claims he's never taken anyone to. When they arrive, both a painting and clothes that fit her exactly are there. He teases her about seeing the painting to the point that she puts it in the fire, only to find out that it wasn't what she thought. The next morning after a serious talk, she wakes to find him having a meeting with some serious looking men. When he finds her on the beach later, she confronts him with the knowledge that she knows he's preparing to run. He offers her a lot of money to throw the case (yet admits no wrongdoing) and come with him. When they return, a jealous Michael confronts Catherine with pictures of Crown and what he has been doing since they returned. At first she pretends she doesn't care, then folds and asks to see the pictures. They are of Crown with the same beautiful young woman again. Feeling betrayed, she hands Michael pictures of the borders of the Monet, stating that they are photographed before being insured so a forgery can be discerned.
Catherine is not the only one with mixed feelings. Crown has seen his therapist throughout the relationship and she warns him that they are very much alike, so Catherine won't realize that he truly cared for her until she's lost him. They continue to date and he asks her to leave with him. When she is slow to respond, he asks her if it is because of the young lady he had been photographed with, Anna. He then confesses that he purposefully allowed the police to see them together, knowing she'd find out. She then commands that his valet stop the car and she gets out, with Crown close behind. She is angry that he tried to hurt her and he responds that he only did it to insure that he was not the only one with feelings involved. He then asks her to leave with him again.
When she returns to the police station, Michael reminds her of the border pictures and that they found some likely forgers in the city. They go to visit them, but they each blame the other. The second (who is in jail) sparks curiosity in Catherine and she thinks there is something he knows, but isn't saying. She then goes to see Crown, and finds him packing with Anna. Feeling used, she turns to leave and he attempts to stop her so he can explain. He promises that there is nothing going on between him and Anna and that she merely wanted to be paid for a job she did for him. Catherine doesn't believe it, so he promises to return the painting so they can be together. Incredulous, she asks if he expects her to believe him. He gives her a date, time and location to meet him after he returns it and kisses her, giving her the option of leaving with him or turning him in. She breaks away in tears and leaves. She ends up at Michael's and gives Crown up.
The next day, the police have staked out the museum and are waiting for him to show so they can arrest him. Michael gets a phone call and divulges that the forger was Anna, the daughter of one of the forgers they visited, Heinrich Knutzhorn. Her father had owned a gallery with Crown and he had become her guardian when her father had gone to prison. Catherine is mortified at her mistake and even more so when Crown shows up dressed as the man in the painting, The Son of Man. Michael asks if she warned him and when she insists she did not, he responds that Crown knew she would betray him. He quickly blends into the crown while sending the police on a wild goose chase when other men matching his description and dress flood the museum passing identical briefcases. The room where the Monet was is heavily guarded, so they have no idea how he is going to return it. After disposing of his Son of Man clothes, Crown throws a few tear gas shells into the room where the original Monet painting was hanging. The fire sprinklers open up and to avoid any damage the covers start to closes over the paintings. However, the door in front of the Pizarro Crown donated is stuck. The water washes away the paint to reveal the Monet. When they look to see what stopped the doors, they find a pencil stamped with, "Crown Acquisitions".
What occurred is now clear: immediately after stealing the original Monet painting, Thomas had Anna forge a Pizarro over it with watercolor and replaced it via the donation two days later. However when the shields retract, they find another painting is missing: Banks of the Seine at Argenteuil by Édouard Manet. It is the painting Catherine told Crown on their first date she would have taken instead of the Monet. Her people are not responsible for it and theirs has been recovered, so it is no longer her business. Michael says he has more important crimes to concentrate on, so Crown is free to do whatever he wants. When Catherine goes to the location she was supposed to meet Thomas, she encounters a man she thinks is him. However when he turns around, it is one of the men from the museum dressed as the Son of Man with a gift from Crown for her: the newly stolen Manet. Devastated, she goes to the airport and asks the clerk to mail the painting to Michael at police head quarters before she catches a flight to Britain.
VIisibly shaken on the plane and clutching a shot of hard liquor, Catherine falls apart. A hand reaches through the seats from behind her and gives her a handkerchief while using a voice that doesn't quite sound right. She looks in the seat behind her to find Crown. She leaps at him, furious at his actions. The stewardess comes to see what the commotion is, but by then Thomas has calmed her by kissing her. She then whispers in his ear, "If you pull a stunt like that again, I'll break both your arms".
- Pierce Brosnan as Thomas Crown, a billionaire and the main protagonist of the film.
- Rene Russo as Catherine Banning, an insurance investigator, Thomas' lover and the secondary protagonist of the film.
- Denis Leary as Detective Michael McCann, a police detective.
- Fritz Weaver as John Reynolds
- Frankie Faison as Detective Paretti, a police detective.
- Ben Gazzara as Andrew Wallace
- Mark Margolis as Heinrich Knutzhorn
- Esther Cañadas as Anna Tyrol Knutzhorn
- Faye Dunaway as Psychiatrist
- Michael Lombard as Bobby McKinley
- Simon Jones as Accountant on phone (uncredited)
- Cynthia Darlow as Daria
Differences from the 1968 film
The film makes several major changes from the original, most notably the amount of nudity and intimacy displayed during the romance between the two main characters. The original was rated PG, the remake, rated R.
The original story is about a millionaire masterminding a bank heist in Boston, the remake, portrays a billionaire art thief in New York City. There was no painting stolen in the first film, with Crown and his men instead stealing $2.6 million in cash from a bank. The change in the remake was based on the idea that the more tumultuous society of the time would be less inclined to sympathize with a man who committed armed robbery out of boredom.
Steve McQueen's version of Thomas Crown has no physical involvement in the actual robbery; he is a behind-the-scenes mastermind. Pierce Brosnan's version steals the painting himself.
In the original, Crown pilots the glider himself, alone; in the remake he takes Banning for a ride.
The two movies end differently. In the original, the insurance investigator betrays Crown but he escapes, saddened that she did not join him. In the remake, after the betrayal and the realization that her jealousy of Anna Knutzhorn was unfounded, she unsuccessfully attempts to join him. Her sadness is short-lived as he surprises her by being on her plane headed to Europe.
At first, director John McTiernan was unavailable for the project. Pierce Brosnan and his fellow producers considered several directors before returning to their original choice. McTiernan then received the script and added his own ideas to the production.
After McTiernan signed on to the project, he changed the theme of the central heist and a number of key scenes. McTiernan felt that contemporary audiences would be less forgiving of Thomas Crown if he staged two armed bank robberies for fun like McQueen did in the original, rather than if he staged an unarmed art heist. He wrote the heist based on the Trojan horse theme and on a technical failure of thermal cameras. McTiernan also deemed a polo match that was used in the original and had been rewritten into the new script to be cliché, and he wanted a scene that conveyed more action and excitement, not just wealth. He substituted a catamaran race, in which Brosnan performed his own stunts.
References to 1968 film
There are a number of echo references to the original 1968 version of the film. The most obvious is the casting of Faye Dunaway as Crown's psychiatrist; Dunaway portrayed insurance investigator Vicki Anderson in the original. In the remake, "The Windmills of Your Mind" plays during the ballroom scene, as background music in a couple other scenes, and during the credits at the end; the song earned an Oscar for the original film. Both films share a nearly identical scene with Crown playing high-stakes golf, and in both films Crown pilots a glider for recreation.
Filming took place throughout New York City, including Central Park. The corporate headquarters of Lucent Technologies stood in for Crown's suite of offices. Due to its being nearly impossible to film interior scenes in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the producers' request was "respectfully declined"), the production crew made their own museum on a soundstage. Artisans were hired to create a realistic look to the set. Another scene was filmed in a different city landmark: the main research library of the New York Public Library.
The glider scenes were shot at Ridge Soaring Gliderport and Eagle Field in Pennsylvania and at Corning-Painted Post Airport in New York. The two glider aero-tow shots were taken from film shot at different airports with different tow planes. The initial takeoff was photographed at the Harris Hill Soaring Center located at the National Soaring Museum in Elmira, NY. The glider pilot was Thomas L. Knauff, a world record holder, and a member of the US Soaring Hall of Fame. The glider used is a Schempp-Hirth Duo Discus, in which it is physically impossible to reach the front controls from the rear seat. Thus, the close-shot sections were shot in a modified cockpit under a blue screen in the studio.
A number of McTiernan's vehicles then appear in the next sequence, as well as his farm. The tractor in the background after the glider lands belongs to McTiernan, while the dark green Shelby Mustang that Crown drives on Martinique was originally intended to be used for Arnold Schwarzenegger's character in 1993's Last Action Hero, and was retrieved from the director's garage for this film. The six-wheeled Jeep was built specifically for the film. The house used as Crown's Caribbean getaway is owned by one of the 30 original families who settled in Martinique in the 17th century. The scenes around it, like the beach, are a montage of various other parts of Martinique, including St Pierre and the Lamentin airport.
The paintings, copies of which were supplied by "Troubetzkoy Paintings" in New York, appearing in the film are:
- San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk by Claude Monet, owned by the National Museum and Art Gallery in Cardiff, Wales.
- Wheatstacks by Claude Monet, owned by the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
- Noon: Rest From Work (After Millet) by Vincent van Gogh - The painting Crown admires and calls "his haystacks," the original is owned by Musée d'Orsay in Paris, France.
- The Artist's Garden at Eragny by Camille Pissarro.
- The Son of Man by René Magritte - The painting that is seen several times in the film depicting a man in a suit with a Bowler hat and an apple covering his face.
- Banks of the Seine at Argenteuil by Édouard Manet - The second painting to go missing, given to, and later returned by, Catherine. It is currently housed at the Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery in London.
- A painting in the style of Cassius Coolidge's series, Dogs Playing Poker is shown but it is not one of Coolidge's works.
|The Thomas Crown Affair|
|Soundtrack album by Bill Conti, Sting and Nina Simone|
|Released||September 7, 1999 (original)
March 8, 2002 (re-release)
|Label||Ark 21 (original)
The soundtrack was composed by Bill Conti and arranged by Jack Eskew. It features a variety of jazz arrangements which harken back to the original film's version. In addition, the film ends with a reprise of the Academy Award-winning song "Windmills of Your Mind" sung by Sting. Throughout the film, segments are used of a song by Nina Simone called "Sinnerman" (from the album Pastel Blues, 1965). Mostly the non-vocal parts are used (hand-clapping and piano riffs), but in the final scenes, where Crown returns to the scene of the crime, Simone sings "Oh sinnerman, where are you gonna run to?"
- "Windmills of Your Mind" – Sting
- "Sinnerman" – Nina Simone
- "Everything (...Is Never Quite Enough)" – Wasis Diop
- "Caban La Ka Kratchie" – Georges Fordant
- "Black & White X 5" – Bill Conti
- "Never Change" – Bill Conti
- "Meet Ms. Banning" – Bill Conti
- "Goodnight/Breaking & Entering" – Bill Conti
- "Glider Pt. 1" – Bill Conti
- "Glider Pt. 2" – Bill Conti
- "Cocktails" – Bill Conti
- "Quick Exit" – Bill Conti
The film made $69,305,181 at the U.S. box office and a further $55,000,000 in other territories, totaling $124,305,181 worldwide.
The film received generally positive reviews. Such critics as Sally and Leah thoroughly enjoyed this movie and are known as TCA experts. Based on 99 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an overall approval rating from critics of 70%, with an average score of 6.4/10.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
A sequel has long been in development hell. In January 2007, it was reported that the sequel would be a loose remake of the 1964 film Topkapi. Brosnan said in January 2009 that Paul Verhoeven was attached to direct the film. In 2010, Verhoeven said he had left the project due to script changes and a change in the regime.
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