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The Thomas Crown Affair is a 1999 heist film directed by John McTiernan. It is a remake of the 1968 film of the same name. Pierce Brosnan, Rene Russo and Denis Leary star.

The film's success prompted plans for a sequel starring Brosnan titled The Topkapi Affair, which also would be a remake of the 1964 film Topkapi starring Melina Mercouri, Maximilian Schell, and Peter Ustinov. Both films are based on Eric Ambler's 1962 novel, The Light of Day.


Thomas Crown is a wealthy and adventurous businessman who savors a good challenge. Among other diversions, he crashes an expensive catamaran while racing and bets one hundred thousand dollars on a golf swing simply because "it's a beautiful Saturday morning," and there is not much else to do.

Crown orchestrates an elaborate New York museum heist to steal a painting (San Giorgio Maggiore at dusk) by Monet valued at one hundred million dollars. The insurers of the artwork send ace insurance investigator Catherine Banning to assist Detective Michael McCann and the police in solving the crime.

From the beginning, Banning suspects Crown is behind the theft. A game of cat-and-mouse ensues that results in their becoming lovers and gives Crown exactly what he was seeking, as his psychiatrist puts it: "A worthy adversary."

To prove his sincerity and test her loyalty to him, Crown returns to the museum under the eye of Banning and dozens of police officers, vowing to put the stolen painting back.


The film makes several major changes from the original, most notably the ending. In the original, the insurance investigator betrays Crown but he escapes, saddened that she did not join him. In this film, Crown does leave with her.

There was no painting stolen in the first film. Crown and his men rob $2.6 million in cash. The original story also took place in Boston, not New York.

Steve McQueen's version of Thomas Crown has no direct involvement in the actual robbery; he merely plans it. Pierce Brosnan's version steals the painting himself. Also he was very passionate person.


Faye Dunaway played the Catherine Banning role in the 1968 original. However, the character's name was Vicki Anderson.


At first, director John McTiernan was unavailable for the project. Pierce Brosnan and his fellow producers considered several directors before returning to their original choice. McTiernan then received the script and added his own ideas to the production.

Script amendments

After McTiernan signed into the project, he changed the theme of the central heist and a number of key scenes. McTiernan felt that at the time the film was released, audiences would be less forgiving of Thomas Crown if he staged two armed bank robberies for fun like McQueen did in the original, than if he staged an unarmed art heist. He rewrote the heist around the classic Trojan horse entrance and technical failure of the thermal cameras. McTiernan also deemed a polo match as used in the original and rewritten into the original new script to be too much of a cliche, and wanted a scene that conveyed more action and excitement, not just wealth - he hence created the catamaran race, in which Brosnan undertook his own stunts.

Reference to 1968 film

McTiernan accepted a number of echo references to the 1968 version of the film. The most obvious is casting of Faye Dunaway as Crown's psychiatrist; in 1968, Dunaway played Catherine Banning's counterpart, insurance investigator Vicki Anderson. A second is the use of the song "The Windmills of Your Mind" in the ballroom scene, a song popularized by the earlier film.

Some critics panned the ending due to its sharp contrast from the original 1968 version. Banning betrays Crown in the end, but Crown winds up getting together with her anyway in the final scene on a plane headed to Europe. In the original, Vicki Anderson (played by Faye Dunaway) didn't trust Crown and betrayed him to the police. However she didn't earn Crown's love in the end. The 1999 film was criticized for this change in the ending since it's not in Crown's character to stay with a woman who doesn't believe in him, no matter how worthy an adversary she may be.


Filming took place throughout New York Citymarker, including Central Parkmarker. The corporate headquarters of Lucent Technologies stood in for Crown's suite of offices. Due to it being nearly impossible to film interior scenes in the Metropolitan Museum of Artmarker (the producers' request was "respectfully declined"), the production crew made their own museum on a soundstage. Artisans were hired to create a realistic look to the set. Another scene was filmed in an entirely different city landmark: the main research library of the New York Public Librarymarker. The fire protection system used in the film's finale is not actually used in real museums.

The glider scenes were shot at Ridge Soaring Gliderportmarker and Eagle Field in Pennsylvania and at Corning-Painted Post Airport in New York. The two glider aero-tow shots were actually taken from film shot at different airports with different tow planes. The initial take-off was photographed at Harris Hill Soaring Center, Elmira, NY. The glider pilot was Thomas L. Knauff, a world record holder, and a member of the US Soaring Hall of Fame. The glider used is a Schempp-Hirth Duo Discus, in which it is physically impossible to reach the front controls from the rear seat - so the close shot sections were shot in a modified cockpit under a blue screen in the studio.

A number of McTiernan's own vehicles then appear in the next sequence, as well as his farm. The tractor in the background after the glider lands belongs to McTiernan, while the dark green Shelby Mustang that Crown drives on Martiniquemarker was originally intended to be used for Arnold Schwarzenegger's character in 1993's Last Action Hero, and was retrieved from the director's garage for this film. The six wheeled Jeep was built specifically for the film. The house used as Crown's Caribbean get-away is owned by one of the 30 original families who settled in Martiniquemarker in the 1600s, but the interior and the scenes around it, like the beach, are a montage of various other parts of Martinique and sound stages constructions.


The paintings, which were copies supplied by "Troubetzkoy Paintings" in New York, and appear in the film are:


The critically acclaimed soundtrack was composed by Bill Conti and arranged by Jack Eskew. It features a variety of jazz arrangements which harken back to the film's original version. In addition, the film ends with a reprise of the Academy Award-winning song "Windmills of Your Mind" sung by Sting. Throughout the movie, segments are used of a song by Nina Simone called "Sinnerman" (from the album Pastel Blues, 1965). Mostly the non-vocal parts are used (hand-clapping and piano riffs), but in the final scenes, where Crown returns to the scene of the crime, Simone sings "Oh sinnerman, where are you gonna run to?"

Track listing

  1. Windmills of Your Mind - Sting
  2. Sinnerman - Nina Simone
  3. Everything (...Is Never Quite Enough) - Wasis Diop
  4. Caban La Ka Kratchie - Georges Fordant
  5. Black and White
  6. Never Change
  7. Meet Ms. Banning
  8. Goodnight/Breaking and Entering
  9. Glider pt. I
  10. Glider pt. II
  11. Cocktails
  12. Quick Exit


The film made $69,305,181 at the U.S. box office and a further $55,000,000 in the rest of the world, making a combined box office total of $124,305,181.

The film received a 67% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and Roger Ebert gave it 2.5 stars (out of four).



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