Vicki Anderson/Catherine Banning

Created by Alan Trustman

VICKI ANDERSON is the hotshot insurance dick called in to investigate a high-stakes Boston bank heist in Norman Jewison’s über-stylish romantic suspense thriller The Thomas Crown Affair (1968 ). She soon finds herself pitted, both romantically and professionally, against the caper’s mastermind, successful but bored multi-millionaire Thomas Crown, played by Steve McQueen with, as always, stone-cold precision.

Vicki is a strange combination of ditzy charm and cold ruthlessness, willing to break the law in jaw-dropping fashion one moment, just to crack the case, and then seemingly willing to risk it all in the next round of pillow talk with Crown.

The film is not so much a traditional private eye story (it’s more about seduction than deduction), but a battle of wills, between two main characters bent on domination (sexual and otherwise); an edgy erotic game of cat and mouse. The burning question becomes “How do you get the man who has everything?”

The frank sexual politics and the tease-and-release played out between Dunaway and McQueen garnered the film an ooh-la-la “R” back in 1968, while the cinematography by Haskell Wexler and the colliding viewpoints exemplified by the split-screen techniques must have all seemed quite cutting edge and shocking. In fact, they still pack quite a wallop now, although they do sometimes seem dated. And those hats of Dunaway’s?. The film’s further marred by one of the most cloying, annoying and seemingly inescapable theme songs of the sixties: Michel Legrand’s look-at-me-I’m-so-sensitive, wheezy, cheesy “Windmills of Your Mind.” Still, the film itself is a true original, sleek and stylish, and well worth seeing. Recommended.

In 1999 a remake was released, directed by John McTiernan, with some substantial changes to the original. But the icy tone is still there, while the oooh-so-sixties cool of the original is replaced with some real heat, as Pierce Brosnan (now in the lead as the zillionaire art thief) tangles with Rene Russo (as the high-flying insurance dick out to nail him). Although, for some reason, her character was re-named CATHERINE BANNING. Go figure.

Faye Dunaway even makes a cameo (a nice touch), as a psychiatrist, and Sting tries real hard to sell it, but “Windmills of Your Mind” still sucks. I mean, really, does anyone actually like this song? Lyrically and musically, it makes me think of a punctured accordion–no matter who sings it.

But once again, the film is well worth seeing. An intelligent and honourable remake, something of a rarity in Hollywood. It may not surpass the original, but it doesn’t suck.

FILMS

  • THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR | Buy the video Buy the DVD Buy the Blu-Ray Watch it now!
    (aka “The Crown Caper,” “Thomas Crown and Company”)
    (1968, United Artists)
    102 minutes
    Written by Alan Trustman
    Directed by Norman Jewison
    Cinematography by Haskell Wexler
    Theme Song: “Windmills of Your Mind” by Michel LeGrand
    Starring Steve McQueen as Thomas Crown
    and Faye Dunaway as VICKI ANDERSON
    Also starring Paul Burke, Jack Weston, Biff McGuire, Addison Powell, Astrid Heeren, Gordon Pinsent, Yaphet Kotto, Sidney Armus, Richard Bull, Peg Shirley, Patrick Horgan, Carol Corbett, Tom Rosqui
  • THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR | Buy this video  Buy the DVD Buy the Blu-Ray Watch it now!
    (1999, United Artists)
    Writtten by Peter Doyle
    Based on the 1968 screenplay by Alan Trustman
    Screenplay by Leslie Dixon and Kurt Wimmer
    Directed by John McTiernan
    Song: “Windmills of Your Mind” sung by Sting
    Starring Pierce Brosnan as Thomas Crown
    and Rene Russo as CATHERINE BANNING
    Also starring Denis Leary, Esther Canadas, Mischa Hausserman, Ben Gazzara, Frankie Faison, Fritz Weaver, Charles Keating, Mark Margolis, Faye Dunaway

THE DICK OF THE DAY

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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