The Thomas Crown Affair (1968 and 1999), from Tuna and Johnny Web

Tuna's comments in white:

The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) is a remake of the 1968 Norman Jewison film of the same name, which starred Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway in roles which went to Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo in the remake.

Director John McTiernan made no attempt to conceal that this was a remake, even casting Dunaway in the film as Crown's shrink, and using the Oscar winning Michel Legrand song from the original, Windmills of Your Mind, in the opening sequence. The caper is changed from a bank robbery to an extremely clever heist of a $100m painting from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is pulled off by Thomas Crown purely as an exercise to alleviate boredom. Enter Rene Russo as a crackerjack insurance investigator. She figures out early that Crown did it, but proving it is another matter, especially when she starts an affair with him.

Three motivations probably contributed to the affair on her part:

  • she wanted to solve the case for her share from the insurance company

  • she was attracted to him,

  • and he was a challenge.

For his part, she was the most worthy opponent he had ever discovered.

All of the details of the painting theft are ingenious and at least plausible, and the plot makes complete sense. For those expecting an actioner (like McTiernan's own Die Hard), there isn't really any action to speak of.


Russo shows breasts in two scenes, a dark sex scene, and a very well lit outdoor sunbathing scene, and also wears a transparent dress to a dance.

And it isn't really a romance either. The affair takes place more in the minds of the two than in bed. Both Roger Ebert and James Berardinelli like the plot, but see no chemistry between Brosnan and Russo. While the two didn't get weak-kneed at the sight of each other, the intellectual battle between them was very intense, and drove their relationship. Both characters needed this to sustain a relationship, as, for them, sex was just sex. The script was very well written, keeping me guessing start to finish, and I believed the relationship between Brosnan and Russo, especially since they were on different sides of the painting theft, and both had trust issues in their lives.

DVD info from Amazon, 1968 version

  • Commentary by director Norman Jewison

  • 8-Page Booklet featuring Production Notes

  • Full-screen and widescreen letterbox formats

DVD info from Amazon, 1999 version

  • Commentary by director John McTiernan

  • 8-Page Booklet

  • Full-screen and widescreen anamorphic formats

Scoop's comments in yellow:

The Thomas Crown Affair is a rarity among remakes. It is a helluva lot better than the 1968 original, which now seems really dated and possesses only a minimal plot.

The remake passes quickly, and keeps you thinking about it, which is what you want from these caper flicks, and  Pierce Brosnan seems believable as the maverick genius.

Steve McQueen ...  well, Steve McQueen as a financial genius is only believable if the other people on Wall Street are Mickey Rourke and Anna Nicole Smith.

As for Rene Russo - right on, Rene - first movie nude scene, and in her forties.

One thing, though - with the massive budget they had for this film, would it have been too much to ask them to hire a golf pro for an hour to teach Brosnan a realistic golf swing? Or maybe to do the golfing scene with a body double and a different camera angle? (Sam Snead did the swings for Jack Nicholson in The Two Jakes, for example). Brosnan swings like a logger pretending to be homosexual.

The Critics Vote

  • 1968 version (three star consensus) was reviewed by Berardinelli, 3.5/4 and 3.5/5

  • 1999 version: (three star consensus) Ebert 2.5/4, Berardinelli 2/4, 4/5, Apollo 82/100

  • evaluates the reviews for the 1999 version at 70/100.

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary, 1999 version. IMDb voters score it 6.7/10, with women of all age groups rating it slightly higher than men in the same group. IMDB summary, 1968 version. IMDb voters score it 6.7/10. The new version is somewhat underrated, the older version is overrated. (On, voters rate the old version 3.7/5 and the new version 4.2/5, which is a sensible proportion)
  • Box Office Mojo. It was a moderate hit, but that was a disappointment. Produced for $80 million, with another $20-$30 million in marketing costs, it grossed only $69 million at the box office. That left the studio about sixty million dollars worth of red ink to make up with other revenues. The 1968 version grossed $6 million on a four million dollar budget.
  • Exit interviews: Cinema Score. The Russo-Brosnan version had a very powerful appeal with older audiences (B+ men, A- women), but its middle-aged stars and sex scenes didn't prove sufficiently engaging to the major movie-going youth demographics (only B's, across the board).
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, the 1999 version is a very high C+. Anyone who likes a good caper flick will love this one. (Both reviewers agree on the synopsis.) The 1968 version is rated by Scoopy only, and is a C - barely watchable caper flick with a genuinely odd characterization from McQueen, a lifeless glamour show from Dunaway, and a ludicrous bank robbery. Not to mention that irritating song playing again and again. It may be the second most overused theme song ever - edged out only by the notorious "A Man and a Woman".

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