This 1999 remake of the 1968 original sees Pierce Brosnan play the role of titular character Thomas Crown – a billionaire who steals artwork simply for the thrill of the heist. When a Monet painting is stolen from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, its insurer sends investigator Catherine Banning (Rene Russo) to assist the authorities – she suspects Crown and in her pursuit of him a romance develops between the two.
In one scene, the pair are discussing the background intelligence they have on each other over dinner in an upmarket restaurant. Banning says “What impressed me most was getting from Glasgow to Oxford on a boxing scholarship”. Crown replies “Not bad for a wee lad from Glasgae” – using that perceived local way of pronouncing the city that I’ve heard in the media before but am yet to hear from any Glaswegian.
He follows with a statement in a strong Scottish accent that “rich kids cannae box” but then reverts to his usual Brosnan tones and explains that changing his voice to fit in with his new circles was a bigger feat.
It appears that Brosnan himself – whose early acting career involved treading the boards at the Citizens Theatre – decided to give Thomas Crown this Glaswegian background, something he would have influenced as a producer on the film. A 1999 article in The Herald, from the movie’s European premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, indicates that this was indeed the case.
The Fourth Protocol is a 1987 film based on British author Frederick Forsyth’s novel of the same name. It stars Michael Caine as MI5 agent John Preston, who comes across a plot to detonate an atomic bomb at an American air base in Suffolk. The perpetrator of the attempted attack is KGB agent Major Valeri Petrofsky, played by Pierce Brosnan.
In a very brief scene in the film, another Russian agent arrives at Glasgow docks to smuggle a comp0nent of the bomb to a waiting Petrofsky. Spooked by a police officer demanding to see his papers, the agent runs in front of a truck and is killed. It is when searching through his effects at a Glasgow police station that Preston finds the component hidden in a tobacco tin.
It is unclear whether the Glasgow scenes were actually filmed in the city, although Glasgow on Film suspects not – for a night scene at the dock and an interior scene at the police station lasting roughly one minute combined, it is unlikely that the production team moved from their hub in the south east to Scotland, and in fact Ipswich docks is listed as a location on IMDb so most likely stood in for Glasgow. Perhaps a reader can verify this? If the scene was filmed in Ipswich a decent if basic job of set dressing was done – the real Clydeport logo is visible on a gangway and a wall.
Interestingly the original The Fourth Protocol novel sees the ill-fated agent meet a different end – on paper he is the victim of a random attack in the city, ends up in hospital and commits suicide rather than answering questions. He gets a little further away from his boat too – Forsyth name checks Great Western Road and even the Pond Hotel when describing his movements.
Glasgow also gets a completely unrelated, easy to miss mention towards the beginning of the film in a scene set in London on New Year’s Eve. As the concierge at an upmarket apartment block watches television coverage of pre-bells revelry on Trafalgar Square the announcer says “Up in the studio in Glasgow a Hogmanay party is in full swing, so let’s go north of the border to join in the fun”.
Name: Pierce Brosnan
Born: 16th May 1953 in Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland
Credits include: GoldenEye, The Ghost, Mars Attacks!
Reason for visiting Glasgow:
In the early days of his acting career, during the late 1970s, Pierce Brosnan acted in productions at Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre, including Painter’s Palace Of Pleasure and No Orchids.