Thomas Crown Affair Tech & Timekeeping (1968)

Thomas Crown *B&W) with glass cheers himself

Technology and timekeeping; two things that are so hand-in-hand that we forget how recent a phenomenon that notion really is. From the obvious smartphone in our pockets, to the clock on a microwave, we live in the most technological and time-keeping abundant era ever. So much so, that we take it for granted. Now, many reading this will make the jump that I am probably going to take some kind of analog angle, or a nod to the #watchfam, in that a mechanical watch has some sort of importance and argue for its merits… but that isn’t the case here. This is a post on how we can see the evolution of this notion in a film, and by proxy, through many of our films from the 50-60s.

This all stems from recently watching the original 1968 Thomas Crown Affair, starring of course Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. Any film from this era and prior is really a reminder of how far our technology has progressed, and that it still serves two main functions: time and communication.

Thomas Crown 1968 scene with clock changing over 3:00 and phone call to phone booth happens
Time syncing across a clock, a wrist watch, a phone call, and the epic heist’s agenda.

Now in this scene, and in the subsequent ones that show the heist’s plot setup, there are moments where even though the characters have a watch (arguably the only kind of personal technology they would have at the time), they still rely on the phone system to assure the time is correct (seen in the lower left) as well as communication. Constantly, you see scenes where everyone was syncing up their timing calling the operator to get the time from the telephone system to make sure they are at the right place and right time. Even though, they all carry their own watches. Today, we just look at a screen and get the call right there all from the phone within our pocket, most of the time disregarding the watch (smart or otherwise) on our wrist. I guess in that regard nothing has changed, we still rely on telephony for our timekeeping as well as our clandestine communication operations.

Now if you are unfamiliar with the the premise of the film, you have Thomas Crown (Steve McQueen) a wealthy mogul plotting to pull off a methodical bank heist not really for the money, but for the thrill. Enter ‘Vicki Anderson’ (Faye Dunaway) a bold always-gets-her-theif headhunting insurance agent to find the thief and reclaim the goods, but in the process falls in love with Crown.

And yes, the film was rebooted in 1999 to have Thomas Crown (Pierce Brosnan) and head-hunting-insurance-agent Catherine Banning (Rene Russo). But a fun tip of the hat to the original film is Faye Dunaway cameo as the therapist of Crown in this 1999 reboot.

#watchfam Links

Scenes and Promos 1968

1968 The Thomas Crown Affair Trailer
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