Mar 28 2011 9:00am

Romance To The Rescue: The Thomas Crown Love Affair

The Thomas Crown AffairIn 2003, my divorce became final. I was happy to be away from my personal tyrant, but having suffered a great blow to my crystalline image of love, relationships, and marriage, I found it difficult to imagine finding a new guy. I don’t even think I wanted to find a new guy.

A year later, I’d rejected several different suitors. I was afraid and guarded and was about to turn my back on the greatest love affair of my time because I was scared.

It sounds super-melodramatic. And it was; I was enrolled in a Grad Business program and a particularly charismatic classmate asked me out. I was interested too, of course, but I wasn’t quite ready to take the plunge into a relationship. Sure, I’d dated, but none of the guys had ever made it home, to meet the kids, to meet my parents. Most of them didn’t make it past the first date.

But I agreed.

We were at T.G.I. Friday’s, and drinks were flowing. The occasion was my potential suitor’s going-away party. He would be stationed in Mexico for a month on a Quality Supplier venue for Chrysler. He was an Engineer and subject to many assignments abroad.

We were loaded with libations and laughing at the top of our lungs. I was slipping fast and had thrown caution to the wind. That’s when the Lemon Drops took control and illuminated his charm, his passion, that wonderfully luscious deep voice and brown eyes that you could stare into for hours. I tried to get a grip on myself, but he was magnetic.

And, in the morning, he would leave for Mexico City.

As we walked to our cars, our conversation slowed and we both knew that it would be weeks before he returned. So in front of his truck, the headlights providing the backdrop, he kissed me. It was a full and sensual kiss that almost forced my leg to kick into the air. And then, he was gone. The first man to pique my interest, and Chrysler had stolen him for me.

I talked myself into forgetting about him. I told myself that they all start out sexy and intriguing, interested in what you have to say, reminding you that after all you are a girl that yearns to be held. And then the bubble would burst.

It worked. Until one bored night alone with my DVD player and Pierce Brosnan changed my mind. I’d rented The Thomas Crown Affair from my neighborhood Blockbuster and settled in with a big bowl of Popcorn and some Pinot Noir. After such a traumatic marriage, and many years of suppressing the romance in my life, I hadn’t read or watched anything under the romance genre for what seemed like an eternity.

When the movie came out in 1999, I was in full-blown misery, and had never actually seen the movie, neither the original nor the most recent version. I don’t want you to think that I went in with the expectation of seeking out a romance. After all, the movie cites romance as a subplot. I was thinking a very deep and buried subplot. Boy, was I wrong.

It opens with a full shot of Pierce. He was magnificent. The opening scenes show a masterful Brosnan walking into the museum in a tailored suit after abandoning his car in the middle of rush hour New York traffic. He was almost run over and his hair didn’t even get mussed. He takes a seat in the museum and stares intently at the van Gogh, he even renamed them ‘his haystacks’.

Good gravy! What kind of man renames a van Gogh? The sexy kind. The kind that makes me want to run off with reckless abandon.

Pause. Had to take a quick break to remind myself that I hated men and none of them were any good at all. Okay, Play. The painting is stolen. During the investigation, a great pair of legs enters. It’s Rene Russo. She’s stunning, she drinks green shit and all of her coats match her outfits. Obviously, Crown will fall in love with her and tell her all his secrets. Right? Hells, no! Instead, he engages her in a game of cat and mouse as they embark in a chase that takes both of them down a path they hadn’t expected. I was taken with them.

My favorite scene, the one that actually made me long for the touch of a man and to have my own romance with the dude a few thousand miles away in Mexico City, involves a hang glider. They travel across several states, and when they crash land in a field of cows, Thomas simply whips out his cell phone. The next scene finds them on a airplane, private jet rather, and he takes her away to a mountaintop house supplied with clothing that is all in her size. It is there that they burn a painting, make love on the beach, he cooks for her, lounges around with her, and they make love for days.

Sigh. I love it. Well, being that this is Act II, and we know the big gloom is coming, the couple returns to New York to find pics of Crown with some girl and a devastated Catherine (Russo’s character) with nothing left but her job. She turns over the pictures of the painting borders which virtually ensure that Crown was involved in the robbery and off she goes—to dinner with Crown.

Rene and I are pissed with him. I could have jumped through the screen on his glider-flying ass! What does he do? He swears he is not trying to fool her, that he loves her and that he will give it all up if she really loves him . . . but does she?

Crown sets up a ruse to return the painting. With a thousand men dressed as the The Son of Man painting, he manages to confuse the police. Rene/Catherine is impressed. She is elated. Now, if they are together, since he successfully returned the painting, they won’t be fugitives. They could be free to love one another. Rene and I were happy. They were going to be together, living happily ever after.

But, when she got to the dock, he wasn’t there. He had absconded, leaving only another stolen painting behind. Catherine and I were ripped apart. We could barely contain ourselves, me on my couch and Catherine in the airport. On the plane, she’s drinking a goblet of none other than Crown Royal (tee-hee) and a hand reaches to her from between the seats. She looks back, and it’s him.

Thomas has returned. He hadn’t abandoned her. He was on the plane and she leaps into his arms. After a small death threat, the audience and I can safely assume that the pair lived happily ever after. I cheered through my tears. I had come alive. I couldn’t wait to take a chance again.

Some say that Hollywood has the ability to psychologically affect the audience in the way that no other communication medium can. I don’t know if all that is true, but a couple of weeks later, I was ready to return to the first day of our next class. And he was back. Not only that, his coat matched his clothes. I was ready to love again. I didn’t know what would happen, but I knew that without taking the leap before looking, without trying again, you stand the chance of living a life unfulfilled. He met my children, he met my parents, and right now as I type this post, he is lying on my couch asking when I’ll be done so that we can watch True Blood On Demand. It is for all of these reasons that I love romance. I have never turned my back on it again.  


Aliza Mann, email:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Saundra Peck
1. sk1336
Oh Aliza, how I know your life and pain!!! I married my high school sweetheart, followed him to the wild west (which I loved and am convinced if we had never left we would still be happily married today) then watched us fall apart when he had a mid-life crisis at 25!!!!

I had the good sense to have my own life for years afterward, dating different types of man and learning about myself and the mistakes I had made too. Then, 4 years later, I took a chance on the man who was my best friend and partner at work. We have now been together for over 15 years. The second marriage has fun and fights, while my first marriage had no real drama or fights, which now makes me believe that neither of us was truly passionate about the relationship.

My main man/hubby is not a romantic kind of guy, but he is fiercely loyal and hard working. He loves his family first... But I will never forget a Valentine's surprise years after we were married. I got my usual purple roses (hard to find), dinner out and then expected to drive home. But to my surprise he drove us to the beach and parked at a closed beach ramp. He got out of our Trans Am (which he only drives about twice a year but is an AWESOME date car!!!) popped the trunk and got out two beach chairs and a bottle of iced champaigne from a cooler, all hidden in the back. Talk about ROMANCE.... I will spare you from the details of the rest of the night!

This may have been something he thought of from one of the chick flicks I make him take me to a couple times a year, but for sure he did not learn it from the romance novels I read. This IS why I continue to love the romance genre. I have lived the good and bad in romance...and have so much more to experience!!!!
Donna Cummings
2. Donna Cummings
What a lovely post. :) This has always been one of my favorite movies--I have it on DVD, and just watched it again recently. One of the reasons I love it is because of Rene Russo's character, and her adult responses to situations. She doesn't flounce or carry on or act silly. She may be wary of getting involved, but she does it with a great attitude!
K.M. Jackson
3. kwanawrites
How much do I love this post and your love story?! Thomas Crown has been one of my favorite movies for so long. Thanks for reminding me of some of my favorite scenes. Oh those coats!
Gwen Roman
4. Gwen Roman
oh my gosh! I love this movie. I love your post. I'm sure there's a wonderful point in there about love and stories and life and taking chances, but all I can think is how happy I am for you that Mexico City with the Matching Coats is waiting for you : ) So romantic and wonderful! Congrats!
Kiersten Hallie Krum
5. Kiersten
I adore this movie. Catharine's clothes are AMAZING. My favorite is when she takes off the jacket & you see the dress beneath was made to look like a blouse - oh I can't do it justice, but it still takes my breath.

Pierce as Tommy is charming, engaging, heartbreaking, suave...basically Pierce. This film is full of rich, complex characters. Tommy and Catharine are far from easy people but they recognize their match in each other & eventually give up what means most to them individually to make it work together.

Also, the Black and White Ball - day-am!

What a lovely post. I am touched to hear about your rewarding path back to romance.
Gwen Roman
6. Janet W
If anyone asks me about swoonalicious for grown-ups movies, this, and Tune in Tomorrow and The Big Easy would be high on the list. There's such a feeling of atmospheric movement and high school, even college, is so not important to the story. Like I said, for grown-ups.

Your story would make a book in itself: thank you for sharing it!
Aliza Mann
7. AlizaMann
You guys, you're gonna make me cry. I very much enjoyed sharing with you all.
@sk1336 - All this builds character... at least that's what they say! Your guy sounds perfect!
I have to tell you that says that there's a Crown II in the works... I really hope they don't mess it all up! @ Janet, Hopefully the next one will make the swoonalicious list :-D
Gwen Roman
9. Jessica C.
What a terrific ending! Congrats to not giving up.

p.s. I can't even get my husband to watch True Blood with me. You've got a keeper there!
Aliza Mann
10. AlizaMann
@Percy - I really could have used your site back then :-D. Thanks for visiting!

@Jessica - yes, but I have to agree to watch a few hours of ESPN (it's like a repetitive loop of nonsense!) At least there's hot guys on there, right? LOL.
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