Following the 50th anniversary edition in 2018, Kino Lorber Studio Classics is re-releasing The Thomas Crown Affair on Blu-ray. There is no special wording on the disc’s packing about 2018’s 50th anniversary edition. This is just a regular special edition. The 4K transfer, encoding, and bonus content is the same. While there is a missed opportunity in upgrading to 4K Ultra HD, there’s no need to purchase if you own the 2018 Blu-ray. Per Kino Lorber, the camera negative is in bad shape so a 4K upgrade is not in the cards. The only difference is this one comes with a slipcase.
The film came out just over three decades before a remake starring Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo was released in 1999. Talks of a sequel went nowhere but I’ll have more to say about the remake this summer when it turns 25 years old. Meanwhile, Amazon Studios is currently working on a reboot. Ironically enough, James Bond was Norman Jewison‘s initial choice to play Crown in the 1968 film. Only it was Sean Connery in mind. Connery, on the other hand, preferred a vacation.
Jewison previously directed Steve McQueen in The Cincinnati Kid. Alan Trustman, a lawyer, came up with the idea for the film after looking outside his office window. The whole gist is basically a smart guy figures out how to rob a bank and gets away with it. Jewison didn’t have McQueen in mind. For starters, one does not generally think about McQueen, suit, and tie in the same sentence. Anyway, it just so happened that the two shared an agency. McQueen loved the script–it also gave him an opportunity to wear a suit–and wanted to do the film. In Jewison’s defense, McQueen’s A-list status would be beneficial seeing as how hard it is for films of this nature to attract such stars. However, the actor would not come cheap. Bonnie and Clyde‘s popularity is the main reason behind Faye Dunaway’s casting some 11 days prior to filming.
The film has a strange way of falling into Jewison’s work on films promoting social conscious. It’s certainly no In the Heat of the Night. In his director’s commentary, Jewison views Thomas Crown’s (Steve McQueen) heists as being a way to stick it to “the man.” Hollywood was a long way from Breen’s Production Code because there is no way that Breen would let him film this. Crown’s heists go after banks and insurance companies and he gets away with it. There’s no arrest made at the end of the film although that would be awkward for insurance investigator Vicki Anderson (Faye Dunaway). She knows he is the mastermind but the two have played a game of cat and mouse and end up falling for each other.
Jewison utilizes a multiple-image format during many moments of the film. This sort of filmmaking might be easier with today’s technology. It wasn’t so much the case back then. Meanwhile, there’s more fun with Haskell Wexler’s camerawork to display McQueen and Dunaway’s kissing in the film–after they play chess, of curse. It’s a challenging shot because there’s the question of how do you do this without showing any crew or equipment in the background. Regardless, it is one of the longest on-screen kisses, going on for over a minute in length. Faye Dunaway wrote in her memoir, Looking for Gatsby, that the scene always comes up in conversation with any man she meets, provided that they talk “long enough.” No matter how great of a character that Vicki is on screen, the sexism on set is a different story.
- Audio Commentary by Director Norman Jewison
- Audio Commentary by Film Historians Lem Dobbs and Nick Redman
- Interview with Director Norman Jewison
- Interview with Title Designer Pablo Ferro
- Three’s a Company: 1967 on the Set Featurette with Cast & Crew
- Theatrical Trailer
- Optional English Subtitles
DIRECTOR: Norman Jewison
SCREENWRITER: Alan R. Trustman
CAST: Steve McQueen, Faye Dunaway, Paul Burke, Jack Weston, with Addison Powell, Gordon Pinsent, Yaphet Kotto, Sidney Armus, Richard Bull, Peg Shirley, Tom, Rosqui, Michael Shillo, Biff McGuire, and introducing Astrid Heeren
United Artists released The Thomas Crown Affair in theaters on June 19, 1968. Grade: 3.5/5
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