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The Thomas Crown Affair

"The Thomas Crown Affairs" on DVD

What's old is new again.

MGM/UA's DVD's of "The Thomas Crown Affairs" are interesting examples of the same basic story told in markedly different ways for different times.

The basic storyline is the same in both: Thomas Crown (Steve McQueen in the original, Pierce Brosnan in the remake) is an ultra rich businessman who pulls off a gutsy robbery for some excitement.

In the original, McQueen masterminds a multi-million-dollar bank robbery, but in the remake it's a much more "1990's" techno-heist of a $100million painting.

Enter the co-star - Faye Dunaway in the 1968 Norman Jewison version and Rene Russo in John McTiernan's 1999 entry - a "Banacek-like" insurance investigator who wants to recover the ill-gotten booty for her fee (five or ten per cent - depending on the film - of the amount she saves the insurance company from having to pay out).

Dunaway and Russo correctly finger Crown right off the bat and spend the rest of the movie trying to get the goods on him so she can then get the goods.

Naturally, they fall in love - or are they just playing Crown for a sucker? And, if so, is Crown being sucked in?

The films are quite different in almost every way, with a few homages to the original in the remake (for instance, Faye Dunaway plays a totally unnecessary cameo and there's a brief reprise of "Windmills of your Mind," the song from the first film). The new version is much steamier, too; where in the Jewison version the sexual tension is most apparent during a game of chess, the remake has Russo and Brosnan flashing their butts at the audience on more than one occasion. Jewison's version actually provides more steaminess than McTiernan's, despite its lack of "full frontal nudity."

Both movies end differently, too. We preferred the more realistic original to the "happier" remake, though we could live with either.

On the whole, the remake is a more satisfying DVD presentation because the picture and sound are better - as they should be. We think the original was a better film, however.

Both DVD's are offered in widescreen and Pan&Scan on opposite sides. The original's Dolby Digital is monaural, not surprisingly, while the remake is 5.1 surround (though there isn't a lot of surround). Audio and video quality of both releases is very good, though we have to give the quality nod to the remake and its more modern production.

Extras on both discs include commentary tracks by the respective directors, a "collectible booklet" as well as trailers, chapter stops and the usual language choices.

"The Thomas Crown Affairs", from MGM/UA Home Video
The Original:
Starring Steve McQueen, Faye Dunaway, Paul Burke, Jack Weston,
Written by Alan R. Trustman, Produced and Directed by Norman Jewison

The Remake:
Starring Pierce Brosnan, Rene Russo, Denis Leary,
Written by Leslie Dixon & Kurt Wimmer, Produced by Pierce Brosnan and Beau St. Clair,
Directed by John McTiernan


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Updated May 13, 2006