I’ve watched again the original (1968) version of The Thomas Crown Affair, and found that it remains enjoyable, even though it is very much a film of its time. The split screens and photographic trickery don’t entirely compensate for the thinness of the plot, but the success of the film derives mainly from the chemistry between the two leads, Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway.
McQueen is the eponymous Crown, a millionaire whose boredom leads him to organise a bank heist. Dunaway is an insurance investigator who is torn between fancying him and wanting to bring him to justice. This very charismatic couple make even playing a chess game seem like an exercise in seduction. And you can’t be sure whether Crown will get away with it, or not – or whether Dunaway will choose him rather than her career.
The film gains a great deal from the score written by the brilliant Michel Legrand. ‘His Eyes, Her Eyes’ is the theme for the chess game, and a good piece of music, but of course the highlight is the Oscar-winning ‘The Windmills of Your Mind’.
My friend Davide Bonori, whose tastes in music are very similar to my own, recently sent me a wonderful CD performed by Alan Bergman, who (with his wife Marilyn) wrote the lyric to the song. Bergman is in his 80s, but his version of ‘The Windmills of Your Mind’ is quite superb, I think. A great lyric, and a performance I recommend. Listening to the song prompted me to revisit the movie, and I’m glad I did.