Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Tale of Two Crowns

Sequels and remakes seem to be the order of the day in Hollywood as filmmakers continually try to improve on a classic and practice the old adage "imitation is the sincerest for of flattery." Most of the time they miss the mark and should leave well enough alone. And often the remake provides a fresh new take on a classic. Thomas Crown Affair is a perfect case in point of the latter.

I was watching a Tonight Show interview with Pierce Brosnan the other night and the discussion of a possible sequel to his remake of Thomas Crown Affair came up. Apparently no script has been decided
as of yet but hope springs eternal. Both films captured the style and glamour of an era and tell the tale of a cat and mouse caper with a multi millionaire protagonist  and his sophisticated suitor.

The original stars Steve McQueen (who goes against type) as a bored playboy/corporate titan who decides to pull off a bank heist in Boston. Chased by insurance investigator Vicky Anderson (Faye Dunaway), the elegant stylish film is filled with polo, art auctions, dune buggys at the beach and a memorable soundtrack. The film is said to be McQueen's favorite and the part was originally offered to Sean Connery (who would have made an equally wonderful Crown).

The remake stars Pierce Brosnan as the billionaire Crown and Rene Russo as Catherine Banning as the insurance investigator. Similar plot lines but this time the heist is a Monet at the Met and the playground extends from Manhattan to Martinique and racing on the beach is replaced with a flight on a glider and polo is replaced by crashing a catamaran.

Dune buggy scene shot on the beach in Ipswitch

The two seat German glider scene was actually filmed in the studio

Dunaway's wardrobe was designed by Theodora Van Runkle. Faye Dunaway noted in the book Dressed: A Century of Hollywood Costume Design (Harper Collins) "It was the age of the mini, just as it was starting to happen. I said to Thea, 'Let's go very short, this woman doesn't do anything by half measures.' And the micro-mini was born."

Both Dunaway's updo and Russo's hairstyle caused a sensation  and were highly requested and copied....

as were the use of oversize hats in both films....

Production designer Bruno Rubeo and set decorator Leslie Rollins were not allowed to shoot in the Metropolitan so they developed ingenious sets that were identical to the portrait galleries. The interior of the New York public library was used as well as a soundstage.

Crown's to die for townhouse was also shot on a soundstage. Shown below are designs for the entrance hall and study.

Here's hoping for Thomas Crown Part Three....

Photo Credits: MGM, Leslie Rollins, IMDB


  1. These are both favorites of mine. Among the things I like best about them is the music, which I can instantly envision the movie when hearing - Michel Legrand's score for the first, with his "Windmills of Your Mind" song sung by Noel Harrison, and the Bill Conti music and incredible "Sinnerman" sung by Nina Simone in the '99 version.

  2. I too have both soundtracks and excellent!