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Norman Jewison
Steve McQueen, Faye Dunaway, Jack Weston, Yaphet Kotto
Alan R. Trustman

A debonair, adventuresome bank executive believes he has pulled off the perfect multi-million dollar heist, only to match wits with a sexy insurance investigator who will do anything to get her man.
Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1/16X9
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
English Dolby 1.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 102 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 1/31/2006

• Audio Commentary with Director Norman Jewison
• Trailer


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The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 24, 2018)

A stylish thriller from 1968, The Thomas Crown Affair pairs Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway at their peak. At the film’s start, wealthy executive Thomas Crown (McQueen) orchestrates a major bank robbery.

After this crime, insurance investigator Vicki Anderson (Dunaway) gets on the case. This leads her to tangle with Crown – both professionally and romantically.

Just the year prior to Affair, director Norman Jewison led the Oscar-winning civil rights drama In the Heat of the Night. Obviously, the glib, sexy Affair offers a considerable departure from the earnest, politically progressive Night.

Both share one notable similarity, though, as they exist as clear products of their era. At no point during either Night or Affair do we see films that could exist in any other period – unless someone blatantly attempted to emulate the styles of the late 1960s, that is.

In the case of Night, this came partly from the way the movie treated its subject matter, as it adopted the tone one expects of civil rights material from that time: well-meaning, blunt and semi-strident. Affair seems less dated in terms of content, though the viewpoints of its era come through as well, mainly in the way the film views male and female dynamics.

Otherwise, Affair connects heavily to its period through stylistic elements – and I don’t just mean the clothes and hairstyles. From camera choices to editing to music, everything about Affair screams that it comes from the “swinging” part of the 60s.

Which isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but I do think Affair feels more dated that I’d like. I can’t expect the movie to seem timeless, of course, but I’d like something a bit less indebted to its time frame than this ultra-60s effort.

Even without the era-related trappings, Affair doesn’t go much of anywhere. Despite the talents of Jewison behind the camera, it becomes a style-happy effort without a lot of real substance to make it work.

At its heart, Affair boasts a good story, as the cat and mouse between Crown and Anderson provides intriguing possibilities. At times, the movie comes to life in that domain, but these moments result from the natural chemistry between Dunaway and McQueen, as they connect in a dynamic manner.

Unfortunately, the actors can’t overcome the movie’s general lack of strong plot delineation or character development. Affair launches with showy visuals and remains focused more on those stylistic trappings than anything else.

Because of this, none of the film’s plot elements gain traction. The heist and its fallout lack much sizzle, and beyond the charms of the actors involved, the romantic sequences feel less than thrilling.

Too light on narrative thrust and too heavy on flash, The Thomas Crown Affair disappoints. Its stars’ natural appeal can only take it so far.

The DVD Grades: Picture D+/ Audio C-/ Bonus C+

The Thomas Crown Affair appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 and of 1.33:1 on this double-sided, single-layered DVD; the 16X9 image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The space limits of SD-DVD required lots of compression for the image, and this resulted in an ugly experience.

Sharpness never looked better than mediocre and usually tended to seem soft and fuzzy. The movie also could take on a blocky, gauzy feel at times, factors that left this as a presentation that showed iffy delineation and accuracy.

Mild examples of jagged edges and shimmering occurred, and moderately prominent edge haloes cropped up through the film. Outside of a few specks and marks, print flaws didn’t do much damage to the proceedings.

Colors took on a dull brown tint and consistently came across as flat and murky. Even when the movie demanded more vivid tones, the hues seemed drab.

Blacks looked inky and too dense, while shadows offered mediocre delineation at best. I’ve seen less appealing SD-DVD presentations, but this still remained an unattractive image.

Not much better, the film’s Dolby monaural soundtrack showed its age. Though intelligible, dialogue tended to appear somewhat stiff and flat, without a lot of natural warmth.

Effects showed passable clarity but could be a little rough, and music failed to deliver the score and songs well. Those elements could come across as somewhat shrill, and the music lacked range. Given its age, I thought the track merited a “C-“, but it should’ve sounded better.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we get an audio commentary from director Norman Jewison. He offers a running, screen-specific look at how he came to the project, story/characters, sets and locations, visual design and photographic choices, music, editing, and related topics.

Jewison offers a lively chat that covers a nice array of subjects. He goes through the film in a frank manner and brings us a fun view of the flick that informs and entertains.

Despite the chemistry between its two talented leads, The Thomas Crown Affair lacks sizzle. The movie fails to tell its story well and the filmmakers focus too much on style. The DVD offers flawed picture and audio along with a very good audio commentary. Affair sputters too much and doesn’t develop into a winning effort.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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