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Customer Review

59 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chess was never this much fun, April 19, 2000
This review is from: Thomas Crown Affair (1968) (DVD)
I was interested in seeing this film after I saw the remake, especially when I heard so many people say the original was so much better. After having seen both, I'd call it a toss up (both were good!).
Actually, the remake was only loosely based on the original. The original is about a rich guy who knocks off a bank, and the remake about a rich guy who steals art.
This film is well crafted and though the story is far fetched (as in the remake) it's entertaining. Norman Jewison does a terrific job of directing. His visual interpretations, camera angles and dramatic effects are timeless. He overuses the split screen concept a bit, but we need to remember that in 1968 this was fairly new technology and he was probably enamoured with the novelty of it. Think of how much `morphing' was being used when it was first developed.
Probably the best scene involved the chess match between Thomas (Steve McQueen) and Vicki (Faye Dunaway). It was far more erotic than all the scenes where Rene Russo was running around naked in the remake.
The acting was excellent, with Dunaway taking top honors as the stop-at-nothing insurance investigator who literally gets her man. Steve McQueen played the rich macho ego maniac to perfection. His only minus was his phony victory laugh, which was overacted and overused. Paul Burke stayed appropriately but effectively on the sidelines as the police detective.
In comparing the two films, I'd have to say it's about even. The remake had a more inventive and interesting story, replacing the bank robbery with an art heist, but it was also more ridiculous in the final disposition of the stolen painting. The original had better direction and use of the camera, while the remake was much better in use of costumes, props and sets in recreating the opulent lifestyle. Clearly the remake benefited from 30 years of technological improvement in sound and film quality.
The remake was more self indulgent, especially in the sexual area. The McQueen interpretation of Crown was more realistic than Brosnan's conflicted and emotional distraught version. Each reflected their respective times, but McQueen's character was a better representation of the timeless arrogance of the ultra rich. I have to give Rene Russo a slight edge as the investigator. She gave the character more complexity and range. Paul Burke was far superior to Denis Leary as the cop.
The ending of the original was definitely superior, though each ending was really true to the characters' personalities as portrayed.
I gave this film an 8/10. If you like classic films, and you enjoyed the remake, you will probably enjoy this one as well.
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