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Film / The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)

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The Thomas Crown Affair is the 1999 remake of The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), directed by John McTiernan and starring Pierce Brosnan as Crown and Rene Russo as Catherine Banning, the insurance investigator looking into an art theft masterminded by Crown. Faye Dunaway plays a minor role as Crown's psychiatrist. Denis Leary plays Detective McCann, the official police investigator.


This film contains examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Katherine's response to Crown's prank at the end of the film. She tries to hide her smiling and laughter but fails.
  • Anachronism Stew: A minor example: when interrogating the "Romanian" suspect, Banning mentions that Romanians without papers make American authorities nervous because they might be from the "Securitate", the Communist-era Secret Police/Espionage Service - which had been disbanded 10 years prior to the movie. The scene also counts as Viewers Are Morons as at that point in time Romania had applied for membership in NATO and had stated during the Kosovo crisis that it would act as a NATO member even if it were not officially one, in complete opposition to the tension between the two countries suggested by Banning's statement. Needless to say, reactions of Romanian viewers when watching the scene ranged from hysterical laughter to cringing.
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  • Artistic License – Law: Odds are very good that Catherine would have been arrested much earlier in the film. She blatantly breaks into Crown's house (as noted by Detective McCann) and interferes heavily in the police investigation. Even if she had found the real painting at his house, her ongoing relationship with the police would have rendered her a state actor and therefore completely eliminated the state's chance to use the evidence in court.
  • Dress Hits Floor: Executed expertly when Crown and Banning first spend the night together.
  • Eccentric Millionaire: Crown, willing to place large bets on small things, wrecked a hundred thousand dollar boat because he killed the splash, and stole a painting worth over a hundred million dollars just for the thrill of it, to the extent that he essentially returned the painting the day after he stole it (albeit 'disguised').
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  • Fake Brit: In-Universe. Crown is actually Scottish, but worked to change his accent so as not to be left out at university by English snobs. Works from a meta perspective too, since Pierce Brosnan is actually Irish.
  • Impossible Theft: Crown's final theft in the museum of the other painting that he and Catherine discussed earlier in the film is supposed to make him seem like the ultimate master thief, but just ends up looking like this because there was no possible way for him to extract it with the gates shut, nor is any explanation provided.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Banning, according to several of the detectives. Not an obvious case of this trope, especially as she's played by ex-model Rene Russo, and her beauty isn't plot-relevant (her personality, on the other hand...)
  • Informed Ability: Catherine is presented as an intelligent, no-nonsense woman, but Crown plays her like a violin throughout the entire movie, and barring the final scene, she spends the last 15 minutes of the movie as a heartbroken emotional wreck. She does home in on Crown in the first place, however, and for most of the film both she and Crown are way ahead of the cops.
  • Insecurity Camera: Subverted. There's a sequence near the beginning where a team of art thieves are performing an elaborate operation and one of them ends up dangling in full view of a security camera. This is seen in the main security room, but the camera operator is reading and doesn't actually do anything in response.
  • Insistent Terminology: McCann corrects Katherine several times on his police rank.
  • Inspector Javert: Completely averted with McCann. He's fairly relaxed and easy-going, and at the end of the film he explains to Catherine (in such a gentle and friendly way that she's almost moved to tears) that he really doesn't get art, doesn't care about Crown stealing a painting, is only going through the motions because his bosses assigned him to the case, and his primary goals are bringing real, violent criminals to justice (noting that the week prior to the theft he put away two crooked real estate agents and a man who was beating his own children to death). He closes by making it very clear he has no problem looking the other way while her and Crown make their getaway.
    Catherine: You're a good man.
  • Lost in a Crowd: Crown clearly shows himself to the security cameras wearing a trench coat and bowler hat, and carrying a valise. Then he walks off - and about two hundred confederates break out trench coats, bowler hats, and valises and start walking around the museum, switching valises many times. At some point, the real Crown ditches his own trench coat and bowler hat, slipping out a side entrance while everyone is looking for trench coats and bowler hats.
  • Mating Dance: There is already subtext because of Banning's see-through dress, but Crown's quip sends it over the brink:
    Thomas Crown: Do you want to dance, or do you want to dance.
  • No Badge? No Problem!: Catherine is working on behalf of the insurance agency responsible for the stolen painting, essentially a property bounty hunter. However, she behaves as if she's a sworn police officer, being allowed to interrogate suspects, but also performs actions that range from the stupid (informing Thomas Crown that he's the primary suspect, then later sleeping with him), to the outright illegal (copying Crown's keys so she can break into his mansion). She does get called out on some of her actions by Detective McCann, but nothing really comes of it.
  • Operation: Jealousy: Crown likes Catherine, but he doesn't know if she likes him. He lets photos leak of him 'dating' a younger woman to see if he gets a rise out of Catherine. He does.
  • Product Placement: Rene Russo practically chugs a Pepsi One with the label pointed directly at the camera. Interestingly enough, this particular instance is commonly CGI'd out in many versions, and/or replaced with another Pepsi product. There are several other minor product placements that change labels in various versions (i.e. broadcast, airline, theatrical, dvd, etc.)
  • Rags to Riches: Crown is a billionaire now, but he attended university on a boxing scholarship.
  • Relative Error: The young hot girl seen dancing with Crown and in his bedroom is actually his ward. He could've easily told Catherine this, but he invoked this trope because he wanted to test her.
  • Ringer Ploy: A sequence near the end where Crown enters the art museum and plainly shows himself to the security cameras, making sure everyone can see that he wears a trench coat and bowler hat and carries a valise. Then he walks off in a random direction — and hundreds of confederates break out identical hats, coats and valises, and start walking all over the museum, switching valises several times while the guards scramble. Somewhere in the confusion Crown ditches his own hat and coat, and slips out a side entrance. The scene also serves as a protracted reference to Crown's favorite possession being René Magritte's "The Son of Man", which depicts a man wearing a similar hat and coat. The decoys even have copies of the painting in their valises.
  • The Shrink: Crown attends sessions with perhaps the worst shrink ever, a woman who holds him in open scorn and repeatedly laughs in his face while he's trying to tell her how he feels. No wonder the guy has trust issues.
  • Trojan Horse: An upcoming exhibit being delivered to a museum. As a feint. Denis Leary even lampshades it.
  • The Un-Reveal: How Crown stole the second painting at the end is never explained.
  • Vapor Wear: Possibly one of the greatest ever filmed. The sheer dress that Banning wears to the dance was literally the only thing actress Rene Russo was wearing, and was so gossamer thin that extra care had to be taken to (not) light the scene so as to keep her from appearing naked on film. Russo has stated that the whole scene was incredibly uncomfortable to film, as she was (for all purposes) completely naked for everyone on set to see. The final film managed to hide this fact in its entirety, giving only the impression of an insanely sexy dress. Reinforced immediately thereafter by Dress Hits Floor in the next scene
  • What the Hell, Hero?: McCann gives one to Katherine after she breaks into Crown's home, since the evidence would be thrown out in court. She reminds him that all she cares about is the painting.
  • You Do NOT Want to Know: Banning says this when McCann asks what's in the organic shake she's drinking.


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