Follow TV Tropes


Film / The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)

Go To

The Thomas Crown Affair is a 1968 American heist movie directed by Norman Jewison, starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway.

Millionaire Thomas Crown (McQueen) has just pulled off the perfect crime, taking more than $2.6 million from a bank in Boston and socking it away in a Swiss bank account. Vicki Anderson (Dunaway) is an independent insurance investigator contracted to investigate the heist, who will get a portion of the stolen money if she manages to recover it. Crown obviously doesn't need the money, but is constantly in search of diversions, welcoming Vicki's interest in him as a way to alleviate his boredom, even though she informs him from the start that she knows he's the one who pulled the job, and intends to prove it. Their relationship develops into a full-blown affair, complicated by Vicki's determination to recover the stolen money.

Also notable is the film's opening theme, "The Windmills of Your Mind," written by Michel Legrand and performed by Noel Harrison. It has since become a pop standard and has been covered by many other artists, including Sting (for the film's remake), Johnny Mathis, Dusty Springfield, and even Jerry Nelson in The Muppet Show!

It was remade in 1999.

This film contains examples of:

  • Anti-Hero: Vicki is promiscuous. She does not hesitate to steal a car and then to kidnap a child to make an accomplice talk it out.
  • Anti-Villain: Thomas Crown is the leader of a gang of thieves, but his crimes are almost bloodless and he is very charming. He even charms the insurance investigator who is after him.
  • Auction: Thomas Crown meets Vicki during an artwork auction.
  • Bat Deduction: The plot relies on Vicki making several, from guessing Switzerland is where the money went, to the manner both of the heist team's assembly and payment, all the way to intuiting Thomas Crown's involvement based primarily on his looks and the fact that he plays polo.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Thomas has one, who doesn't understand why the boss keeps complaining about boredom.
  • Brutal Honesty: Vicki puts her cards on the table with Thomas almost immediately:
    Thomas: Who's head are you after?
    Vicki: Yours.
  • Byronic Hero: Thomas Crown is male, charming, intelligent, sophisticated, educated, sensitive, but he is not satisfied with his life, even if he seems to have everything. He is so bored with his life and he has so little respect for the social norms that he will commit a crime just to get out of his boredom.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Eddie Malone. He is shocked by the methods used by Vicki, in particular the kidnapping of a child.
  • The Caper: Indeed, it was was almost called The Thomas Crown Caper.
  • Cigar Chomper: Thomas Crown always smokes cigars.
  • Clock King: Thomas' heist revolves around this: he tells his accomplices by phone exactly when they have to go on stage.
  • Criminal Procedural: Thomas Crown is a thief and he is the protagonist of the film.
  • Dating Catwoman: Gender inverted. Gentleman Thief Thomas Crown has an affair with Vicki, the insurance investigator who tries to unmask him as the sponsor of a bank heist.
  • Dirty Business: played with. Vicki makes no bones about being unscrupulous, and when Eddie calls her out on this, she gives him a "Think Dirty" plaque.
  • Double Entendre: As with the Brutal Honesty above, Vicki doesn't waste time:
    Thomas: Think you'll get me?
    Vicki: [Beat] I hope so.
  • The Faceless: As we see from the pre-heist meeting in the hotel room, this is what Thomas to his team.
  • Foreshadowing: After Vicki beats Thomas at a game of chess, he changes to a different game.
  • Gentleman Thief: Thomas Crown is a charmer. He steals money only from banks in an almost bloodless manner.
  • Honey Trap: Vicki charms Thomas Crown to get more information about him. Deconstructed: Vicki falls in love with Thomas Crown and he tries to use her feelings for him.
  • I Know You're Watching Me: Vicki isn't exactly subtle about keeping the heat on Thomas. He responds with various tricks on her agents.
  • Intimidating Revenue Service: Vicki wins by siccing the IRS on Thomas: they can nail him if he spends any of the money he stole.
  • It Amused Me: Thomas' motivation. Being a millionaire, he does not need the money he steals. He was just bored with his life and needed some entertainment.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Thomas is a graduate of Dartmouth and Harvard Business Administration, part of his generally upper-class background.
  • Just Plane Wrong: That glider sure roars like a jet when it comes over the trees, doesn't it? It wouldn't be half as egregious if Thomas's lady friend didn't specifically mention it not having an engine mere moments later.
  • Karma Houdini: Thomas Crown is not caught for the heist: he flees to another country.
  • Mathematician's Answer: In response to being asked what he wants by a cop who's putting together a take-out order for food, one witness replies, "I wanna get outta here."
  • Miranda Rights: Upon being introduced to Lt. Eddie Malone, Thomas takes a long Beat and then says dryly, "I'm not gonna say anything until I talk to my lawyer."
  • Mirthless Laughter: Eddie's response to Thomas invoking his Miranda Rights.
  • Only in It for the Money: Vicki investigates the bank heist only because she will receive a bounty if she catches the thief.
  • Operation: Jealousy: a somewhat less complicated version than in the remake: he just starts going out with other women.
  • Orbital Kiss: Between Vicki and Thomas after he proposes a different game. Possibly the ur-example.
  • Pragmatic Hero: Vicki uses every resource to unmask the thief: she sleeps with him, she steals the car and kidnaps the child of one of his accomplices.
  • The Perfect Crime: Thomas Crown's plan is very clever: his accomplices do not know him and do not know each other; his plan unfold as expected; he goes to Switzerland to hide the loot.
  • Present-Day Past: The opening heist occurs on Friday, June 9. June 9, 1967, was a Friday (although the film came out in June 1968, it was shot in 1967).
  • Shirtless Scene: Thomas Crown is seen shirtless when he sleeps with Vicki.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Thomas and Vicki play chess together. Thomas is already established as very smart, but Vicki wins, which shows Thomas has found a Worthy Opponent. The game is loaded with more Visual Innuendo than you can shake a stick at.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Vicki smokes cigarettes from a holder. Thomas smokes cigars.
  • Split Screen: Taken to an insane degree during the opening heist with multiple screens for the viewer to follow.
  • Swiss Bank Account: Thomas books a flight for Switzerland after the heist to deposit a large pile of small bills. Vicky observes the Swiss are "famously casual about certain formalities."
  • Take a Third Option: After their game of chess, Thomas suggests this to Vicki. She thinks he's talking about going to bed, but in fact, he's setting her up for a long con.
  • Tap on the Head: What Thomas does to one of the detectives watching him.
  • Tension-Cutting Laughter: Thomas gets two big ones: after the first heist and later, on the plane.
  • The Unfettered: Vicki is the detective's version, using every resource, and we do mean every, to win.
  • Villain Protagonist: Thomas Crown is a thief and he is the protagonist of the film.
  • Visual Innuendo: When Thomas and Vicki play chess. The way Vicki touches the pieces is very evocative.
  • Wham Line: "I have a telegram for you," complete with crash zoom.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Eddie calls Vicki out for extracting a confession from a man by kidnapping his son. She responds with an I Did What I Had to Do.