Classic Movie Review: The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)

Title: The Thomas Crown Affair
Release Date: June 19, 1968
Director: Norman Jewison
Production Company: The Mirisch Corporation | Simkoe | Solar Productions

The Thomas Crown Affair is probably less regarded as a classic film than as a classic Boston film, and is discussed in Ryan Walsh’s book on Boston in 1968, Astral Weeks.  And like at least 90% of movies set in Boston, it is a crime movie, but instead of mobbed-up guys from Southie, the criminal is a bored millionaire from Beacon Hill.  The movie starts out great with Thomas Crown (Steve McQueen) organizing a bank heist of five men who don’t meet until the robbery begins and who never see his face.  The film uses extensive split screens to depict the action, which reminds me of a 1970s historic site visitors center introductory movie, but it does add a flair to the action occurring simultaneously.

After the successful heist, the bank brings in the Vicki Anderson (Faye Dunaway). Initially, Anderson and Crown play a flirty game of cat and mouse.  But the movie fizzles out about halfway through.  We’re supposed to believe that they actually fall in love, on their many trips to ride a dune buggy around Crane Beach, but the romance is not convincing at all. Anderson’s belief that their love will make Crown confess seems especially pathetic.

I’ve never liked Dunaway as an actor, but in this case, I think both leads were miscast.  They needed something like a Cary Grant/Grace Kelly level of talent, but they weren’t up to the task.  I did like seeing all of the on-location scenery shot in 1968 Boston (and the one scene where Dulles Airport is made to appear as if it’s in Boston).  Mt. Vernon Street on Beacon Hill, seen in a scene where Crown douchely crashes a detectives car into a tree, looks virtually the same 50 years ago as it does today.

Rating: **