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99 of 110 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Stylishly Chic Affair to Remember, December 21, 2000
This review is from: The Thomas Crown Affair (DVD)
Even in 1968, audiences knew The Thomas Crown Affair was a film of style over substance. It had an interesting premise dreamt up by a Boston Lawyer who had never written a screenplay before-and there wasn't a lot of story or character development. It's the films' style and gimmicks which endeared it to audiences. And the coolest of the cool stars,Steve (I move like a panther) McQueen, on the planet teamed up with the fascinating mix of earthy sultriness and ice princess that is Faye Dunaway at her peak.
So does this film hold up? Is it worth watching? The first half hour of the film - - the robbery is still an exciting, stylish, entertaining sequence that few films will top in terms of hipness. It's here the multiple screen gimmick works best. It's here that Hal Ashby's editing and Walter Hill's second unit work is most impressive. It's the best part of the film and it works beautifully. (Yes that's future directors Hal Ashby and Walter Hill I just mentioned).
Affair is directed by Norman Jewison (a former editor/turned director who had just directed In the Heat of the Night, and The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming). United Artists didn't put much pressure or time constraints on Jewison, and Jewison took this very weak screenplay with an interesting premise and worked with writer Alan R. Trustman to create a sandbox for him and legendary cinematographer Haskell Wexler to play in. They were young, they were anxious to break rules and try new things and they happened to wind up at Montreal Expo 67 and in the audience of a ground-breaking multi-screen extravaganza called Habitat. Habitat was created by film/maker and graphic designer Pablo Ferro. Jewison, Wexler and Ashby had found the gimmick they were looking for. It wasn't really until the film was in post production that they began putting together the multi-screen effects, and none of the film was story-boarded . A lot of improvisation was used for the film.
The premise of the story (for the few who don't know) concerns a very wealthy corporate millionaire, Thomas Crown (Steve McQueen) who is so used to winning at every game he plays, he challenges himself by quietly setting up and master-minding a huge bank robbery. It's one of the things that amuses him, one of the few thrills he has in life, his way to rebel and protest against his own corporate greed.
The police are baffled, Paul Burke as top cop Eddie Malone is willing to work with a very unique insurance investigator to break the case. The investigator turns out to be Vicki Anderson (played by Faye Dunaway). She earns ten percent of the money she recovers and she's willing to do just about anything and break all the rules to earn her money- which frustrates the by the book Eddie Malone.
Now there's never much time taken with conventional things like dialogue. Most of the characters speak in short phrases and sentences. The music is loud, intrusive, and obvious. It's used throughout the film to drive the pacing of the scene or over-emphasize minor moments. Today it plays a bit more campy than it used to, but it's a lot of fun.
Vicki Anderson quickly decides that Thomas Crown must be the master-mind behind the bank robbery. She doesn't really have any evidence, or really much of a reason to come to this conclusion, but she does. The film expects you to accept this. So the rest of the film is a cat and mouse game. Vicki and Thomas are attractive jet-setting type people and they are attracted to each other, flirt, make love, drink port, play chess (in an extremely low key erotic fashion), buy fresh produce, go for dune buggy rides, and sit in sauna's together.
They both know however that they are adversaries.
McQueen's acting is also very stylized. He pauses before making facial gestures. He laughs somewhat forced, and his every movement feels calculated. It works.
Although the film becomes less logical as it progresses, its inventive style held my attention throughout. And perhaps because of how dated it's hip chicness is, it's even more fun now,then when it was first released.
The re-make is actually a better film than this one. The screenplay is much better constructed, and the film is structured better as a conventional narrative. But the first 30 minutes of this film is not easily topped, and Steve McQueen was a one of a kind screen presence.
If your in the mood for a style over substance film from the late 60's complete with the title Academy Award Winning song Windmills of your Mind, you won't be disappointed.
Three and Half .... make it Four...
Chris Jarmick...
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 30, 2011 7:23:44 PM PST
Magyar says:
What an absolutely superb review.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 5, 2011 8:32:44 PM PST
Me says:
"The re-make is actually a better film than this one."

But the very last scene (After what should've been the ending) in the remake, designed to placate women ruined it. The original ending was a real mind blow.

Posted on Aug 1, 2011 2:12:27 AM PDT
W. West says:
Now, I am afraid to buy this on DVD. I saw two versions when I was in college. On campus, we were told that we
got to see the European versions of films, whereas in my home town we got the "Bible belt" version. One noticeable
difference was in the chess scene in which Faye Dunaway's character is fondling her bishop as if it were a penis.
Steve McQueen's character glances down and she jerks her hand away. This interaction is omitted from the Bible
Belt version, which as a big disappointment for me. So, is this DVD the good version or the Bible belt version?

Posted on Oct 15, 2011 4:06:32 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 15, 2011 4:10:38 PM PDT
D. Braun says:
Great review, Chris!

I don't remember which version I bought, but it was the first DVD I owned - purchased from Amazon in 1999.

I was an 18 year old Marine in 1968 stationed at Camp Lejeune when I first saw this film. We had an outdoor theater; Mainside; and it was free. We sat on the grass and I would, like so many of my Marine brothers, soon be going to Vietnam. I remember this film vividly; it brings back memories of that time of naive innocence.

Posted on Jan 1, 2014 12:31:34 PM PST
For what it's worth, they're drinking cognac.
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