Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Thomas Crown Affair

I miss fake eyelashes. Fake eyelashes and gogo boots and white tights with babydoll dresses. I love the sixties. I didn't grow up in the sixties but my mother did. And Saturday nights when we had babysitters she often rented her favorite childhood movies for us to fall in love with. (And she got us TV dinners to eat in the living room which was really really cool.) Therefore, my sisters and I fell in love with this era and grew up with these influences and completely missed the Molly Ringwald years of our peers. That Darn Cat, Beach Party, Beach Blanket Bingo, Babes in Toyland, Gidget, The Parent Trap, Trouble with Angels, Funny Face, Bye-bye Birdie, Breakfast at Tiffany's... things like that.

However, I hadn't seen the original Thomas Crown Affair until this morning, when I watched it in bed with leftover Thai food... yay for lazy Saturday mornings in Brooklyn. This is the ultimate sixties crime film. And the sixties-ness of it reminded me of the days in which I would become completely transfixed in a movie and barely blink in risk of missing the costume jewelry and the perfect black coal. This is what the Ocean movies aim to be, I realized as the screen split into squares and the lighting turned pink during the love scene. So sixties, so chic.

I also love the new Thomas Crown, the one with Renee Russo and Pierce Brosnon. Jennifer gave it to me for my birthday and I've watched it five times since October. Its about art theft (is there anything sexier!?) and stars a saucy, confident, tall redhead with a great haircut... Russo is the original redheaded sex kitten and we all thank her for it. She must be fifty in this film, which is even more awesome, and absolutely steals the screen from Mr. Brosnan. Three cheers for Russo.

So with such high hopes, I was a bit disappointed that the original film centered around a bank robbery, not art thievery. I kept waiting for Steve McQueen to run up the stairs of the Met in his super sleek man shoes, or for Faye Dunaway to snap out a monocle over her coal-drenched lashes. Bummer. But once I got past the bank thing, I was sucked into this film.

What separates Thomas Crown from other sixties crime films is the love story. I keep using the word sexy, but there is no other way to describe the gorgeous insurance detective girl openly going after the thief. (This is a black and white ball... Thats okay, I wasn't invited anyway.) He knows she is trying to convict him and she knows he just committed the perfect crime, yet they willingly enter a super sexy chess-game-turn-love-affair.

The best part is that there aren't secrets. It absolutely leaves the predictability of 'he is going to find out she's with the bad guys and then they will have a falling out, but then they will realize that their love is bigger than the politics so they will get back together in the end' line of direction. Its a different formula, a better one. They are both playing with fire, the world is watching and they don't mean to... but they fall in love. It remains a game, with guards up and daggers out, until suddenly its not. But they of course both become vulnerable (her first, alas) and we get our happy ending.

Other fantastic parts of the Crown Affair films include the SEXIEST planes in the world. I, reader, am not one for planes or cars or trains or anything like that, but these airplanes are HOT. Sleek, white, soft, fast. Amazing. And they are filmed as an interlude with nothing but a strong score playing behind. I wish that films today did that more... breathing room. They capture the world of a very wealthy thief and draw us closer to wanting it. They are greed and we want to touch it and be in his world too.

This film, like the Ocean films, also turns our heads on good vs. evil. The point is conviction but when Dunaway/Russo suddenly realized that turning in McQueen/Brosnan means never being with him, we suddenly drop our sound judgments and root for the bad guy, we root for (dare I say it).... love.

'You really think there's "happy ever after" for people like us?' asks Catherine... the us being the wealthy, the smart, the cunning, powerful, conniving, and independent. And he just smiles and looks out onto his island and the blue sky above.


David Henly said...

sarah - the later version is "snappier" but i too love the languorous McQueen - nobody in our era is that cool. In case you missed it (on another movie):

Sarah Butler said...

i agree. and i love that you used the word 'snappier'. totally fits.