Some of my work on Updike was discussed on The Dish with Andrew Sullivan.
Some of my work on Ross Macdonald was discussed on Pretty Sinister Books.
Here is my interview with superstar music impresario Wendy Starland.
Here is my interview with Pulitzer Prize nominee Olympia Vernon.
Here is my interview with the editor of Best American Short Stories, Heidi Pitlor.
Here is my interview with acclaimed artist Emil Kazaz.
My musing on John D. Macdonald, Travis McGee, and the chicks was picked up on The Rap Sheet.

The Thomas Crown Affair

Excerpted from the forthcoming FIRE ON SCREEN, copyright 2015 by Peter Quinones, all rights reserved.  *Note* This material is copyrighted and my lawyer is a junkyard dog.




Nineteen sixty eight was not a peaceful year in the United States.  Riots and protests over Vietnam and the state of racial relations; the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King; the spectacle of the Chicago police pounding on demonstrators at the Democratic Party convention in Chicago; all these things contributed to the deep social unrest felt throughout the land.  And yet one would never know any of this from a viewing of The Thomas Crown Affair, Norman Jewison’s film released in that year and meant to take place in the contemporary world.  Why is that the case?  

I believe it is because the real concerns of the film are selfhood, freedom, and personal identity – that is, metaphysical issues and not social ones.  At one point Thomas Crown (Steve McQueen) is asked, “What do you have to worry about?”  His answer – “Who I want to be tomorrow” – is instructive.  It implies, first, that he has the power to control what person he wishes to be and, second, that he changes this identity frequently.In this paper I would like to explore these implications by looking at Crown himself and his relationships with other characters in the picture.

            This is a remarkable work - not only thematically but cinematically as well.  Jewison’s stewardship, a team of editors led by Hal Ashby, cinematography by Haskell Wexler, and a varied score made up of all different kinds of music, all combine to give the picture an exciting feel.  Indeed, the glitz and style are potentially overwhelming.  Even a respected critic such as Roger Ebert essentially judged the picture to be all style and no substance. 


         In her great essay Notes on “Camp” Susan Sontag quotes Jean Genet (“the only criterion of an act is its elegance”) and Oscar Wilde (“in matters of great importance, the vital element is not sincerity, but style”).  I have a tremendous amount of sympathy with this general point of view, which probably accounts for a lot of my enthusiastic appreciation of The Thomas Crown Affair.  However, the film can very easily be mistaken for a delectable, gorgeous portion of fluffy nothing – but eventually it reveals itself to be a remarkably profound examination of important philosophical issues. 
Excerpted from the forthcoming FIRE ON SCREEN, copyright 2015 by Peter Quinones, all rights reserved. 



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