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Artwork copyright (c) 2004 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.; review copyright (c) 2004 James Southall



Stylish, sexy, quintessential 60s soundtrack


Norman Jewison's The Thomas Crown Affair is a great, great movie.  The liner notes, by Jerry McCulley, rightfully point out that the phrase "style over substance" could well have been invented for this movie, but that's no bad thing: offering little insightful social commentary, instead - through Jewison's clever framing and imaginative camera setups, the marvellous acting of Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway, the sharp dialogue by Boston attorney Alan Trustman (who'd never written beforehand) and the score by Michel Legrand - the movie is simply content to sit there and exist for no reason other than entertainment, an excuse often granted to dreadful movies these days - if only they were as stylish and witty as this one.

McQueen plays an extremely rich businessman who pulls off an audacious bank heist simply because he can, and Dunaway the glamorous insurance investigator working on the case.  The film's about the sizzling sexual tension between the pair.  Director Jewison wanted a stylish feel to the whole picture, randing from hiring Theadora van Runkle to design the costumes through the renowned multi-frame images, and of course Legrand's music.  There are two main themes, both given vocal treatments - there's the classic "Windmills of Your Mind", deserved winner of that year's Oscar, sung by Noel Harrison, an enchanting and blissfully romantic ballad which is as catchy as they come, and also the less well-known "His Eyes, Her Eyes", whose vocal performance is actually done in full Eurovision style by Legrand himself.

It's the latter theme that probably dominates, with its simple, playful nature; the best arrangement is probably in the lengthy "Playing the Field", a kaleidoscopic, almost psychedelic set of variations.  It's also used as the basis for the infamous "The Chess Game", one of the sexiest scenes in mainstream film, despite featuring no sex.  Then, there's the captivating jazz-based romantic suspense of "Moments of Love", which is very interestingly put together, featuring a number of unexpected touches.  The jazz becomes more strident and pressing in "The Boston Wrangler", which could easily come from an Austin Powers movie.  The swirling piano figures of "The Crowning Touch" are another highlight, an intense orgy of musical power.

The Thomas Crown Affair has been released previously, by Rykodisc, but since that album is out of print Varese Sarabande has decided to re-release it, fortunately dropping the dialogue excerpts which ruined the atmosphere that Legrand so carefully constructed with the intelligent sequencing.  The notes are interesting, the sound is fine and the music is first-rate.  Interestingly, the movie was remade by John McTiernan in the late 1990s and his remake was actually rather good - a completely different animal, and Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo are hardly matches for McQueen and Dunaway - but still good, with surprisingly good music from Bill Conti to boot.  Still, you can't beat the original, and here it is once again.  An all-time classic.

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  1. The Windmills of Your Mind Noel Harrison (2:19)
  2. Room Service (1:37)
  3. A Man's Castle (2:37)
  4. The Chess Game (5:54)
  5. Cash and Carry (2:31)
  6. His Eyes, Her Eyes Michel Legrand (2:12)
  7. Playing the Field (5:45)
  8. Moments of Love (2:15)
  9. The Boston Wrangler (2:45)
  10. Doubting Thomas (3:46)
  11. The Crowning Touch (2:55)
  12. The Windmills of Your Mind (2:18)
  13. His Eyes, Her Eyes (2:14)