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The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
Bored with his formulaic life, Boston Tycoon Thomas Crown decides to master mind an audacious bank robbery, purely for the thrill of it. But when the police call in insurance investigator Vicki Anderson to try and solve the heist, Crown gets a new type of excitement when she believes that he may have been the man behind it. As Miss Anderson gets closer and closer to Crown, he becomes both excited by the cat and mouse games they play but also the sexual chemistry which forms between them.
Whilst it's been remade and rumours are forming over a possible sequel to the remake, the original "The Thomas Crown Affair" is quite a good movie with a very clever idea for a storyline. The concept of a successful and rich business man masterminding a bank job purely because he is bored with regular life is a good idea. The way he goes about it is equally nice, with clever elements thrown in to how it is pulled off under his watchful gaze. Even the ensuing cat and mouse game as the insurance investigator tries to prove that Thomas Crown was the master mind is all very clever and for the most well worked.
I say for the most because whilst there is a lot of ingenuity about "The Thomas Crown Affair" it also has some major issues which noticeably spoil things. The most obvious of these is the contrived way that insurance investigator Vicki Anderson manages to not only to pull out of thin air how the bank job was done but also come to the conclusion that Thomas Crown was the mastermind by looking at his photo is just inexplicably weak. It really does let the movie down and although it helps to keep the movie flowing allowing it to get to the cat and mouse side of the story, it is plainly disappointing.
But whilst the storyline has issues, "The Thomas Crown Affair" is a very stylish movie especially considering its age. The employment of split screen visuals as we get to see various moments of action happening at the same time works well. It's also worked well when it is used to switch from one scene to the next, providing a comfortable flow of different elements without them jarring with each other. But there are other elements such as the seductive game of chess which Crown and Anderson play, it's almost erotic as it highlights the simmering sexual tension which has formed between them. The whole look of the movie is brilliant and with the punctuation of semi action with the hand glider and dune buggy scenes it works well to deliver just the right amount of energy with out ruining the slowly unravelling game of cat and mouse.
But it is the performance of Steve McQueen which really stands out above everything else. Where we are lead to believe that Crown is a frustrated millionaire, just the way that McQueen stands and looks you can really get a sense of the boredom he struggles with during his day to day life. Yet when something happens which punctuates the normality you can see the sheer happiness he gets from this. It is such a good performance and you get to see more of it when he realises that Vicki Anderson knows he was behind the robbery and so he gets a thrill from the cat and mouse games they play. Without McQueen "The Thomas Crown Affair" would have been quite simply a clever but average movie.
Alongside Steve McQueen is Faye Dunaway who is pleasant enough as insurance investigator Vicki Anderson, although I struggle with the believability of her character because the performance isn't quite strong enough. Though saying that the chemistry between Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway is pretty impressive as the sexual tension builds up to the almost crescendo like scene over the chess game.
Aside from Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway there is Paul Burke as detective Eddy Malone but frankly it's not a great character almost like any other detective from a movie made in the 60s
What this all boils down to is that whilst "The Thomas Crown Affair" has a few very noticeable problems it is still a very good movie. The stylish production matched up to a clever concept and a brilliant performance from Steve McQueen makes it a very good movie. Of course with it having been remade with Pierce Brosnan and Renne Russo there is the argument which is better. Well whilst they keep the same essence, the storyline about a bored millionaire, they are very different movies with this version having the superior performance of Steve McQueen, but the remake has a better energy which draws you in more.