Alan Trustman

Alan Trustman (born December 16, 1930) is an American lawyer, screenwriter, pari-mutuel operator and currency trader. He is best known for writing the 1968 film, The Thomas Crown Affair, Bullitt, and They Call Me Mr. Tibbs!, in his movie career.

Alan Trustman
Born (1930-12-16) December 16, 1930
NationalityUnited States
Known forThe Thomas Crown Affair
They Call Me Mister Tibbs!

Early years

Trustman was born December 16, 1930, in Boston, Massachusetts. He attended the Boston Latin School, then The Phillips Exeter Academy where he was first in his 1948 class, and then graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1952 and Harvard Law School in 1955.

After college, he was admitted to the Massachusetts bar and went to work at the Boston law firm Nutter, McClennen & Fish where his father, Benjamin A Trustman, was also a partner. He developed shopping centers and bought and sold businesses in competition with the major New York law firms. Gus Alexander, a partner at the firm, best remembers him for achieving partnership in only six years and then retiring on full pension only six years after that at the age of 37.

Film career

In 1967, Trustman wrote his first screenplay, The Thomas Crown Affair. His law office overlooked the First National Bank of Boston, where he had worked during the summer of 1954, and his knowledge of the bank procedures led to the movie about a millionaire businessman who commits a perfect crime, a robbery by five men who do not know each other and never meet until the robbery, in which each has a separate role. Insurance adjuster Faye Dunaway figures out who is responsible for the crime but falls in love with the miscreant. The initial screenplay took 30 days to write.[1] Trustman had written the script for Sean Connery but producer Walter Mirisch and director Norman Jewison cast Steve McQueen, who had been pursuing the role, the first in which he plays against his usual blue-collar man of action persona. Trustman felt the script had to be rewritten for McQueen and spent a week of 16-hour days at United Artists in New York screening film on McQueen and making lists of what McQueen liked, didn't like, did well, and could not do. McQueen loved the rewrite, and told everyone "I don’t know how but the son of a bitch knows me."[2]

The movie was Faye Dunaway’s favorite.[1]

The success of The Thomas Crown Affair was followed by another McQueen movie, Bullitt, which Trustman wrote in 20 hours. It grossed a then impressive $62 million. In 2004, The New York Times placed the film on its list of The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made.[3]

Both Thomas Crown and Bullitt have iconic scenes, Thomas Crown the erotic chess game between McQueen and Dunaway culminating in one of moviedom’s longest kisses.[4] Critic Penelope Gilliatt described it as "two goldfish going after the same crumb", and the scene has since been parodied in numerous films, the most famous being Peter Sellers' seduction of Shirley MacLaine in Being There (1979) while the two characters watch the film on television. Bullitt has the often copied car chase through the San Francisco hills.[5][6]

He also wrote They Call Me Mister Tibbs! (1970), Lady Ice (1973) and Hit! (1973).

Trustman left the movie business after four years when he refused to write McQueen’s racing car picture, Le Mans, because McQueen insisted the hero had to be a loser. After the argument, he was no longer known as Steve McQueen’s writer and, as he puts it, "the phone stopped ringing."[7]

He worked on the scripts for Crime and Passion (1976) and The Next Man (1976). In 1987 he wrote a script for Bullit 2 but it was not made.[8] In 1992 his novel Father's Day was published.[9]

Later on he wrote an episode of Fallen Angels based on a story by Raymond Chandler.[10] He was executive producer on The Tracker (1988). In 1999 Roger Corman was going to make a film based on a Trustman script called Our Man Ho but it was never made.[11]

At the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, Trustman was honored for his part in film history at the annual "For the Love of Cinema" awards dinner. "Alan has made his name with intelligent, subtly ironic dialogues and with the complexity of his scripts", said Georges Kern, IWC Schauffhausen’s CEO, introducing Trustman.[12]

Later career

In 1974, Trustman became an officer, executive committee member and director of World Jai-Alai, which became in four years a highly successful public company operating pari-mutuel facilities in Miami, Tampa, Ft. Pierce and Ocala, Florida, and Hartford, Connecticut.

He left in 1978 and has spent most of his time since then trading currencies and precious metals out of Geneva.

Personal life

In 2008 he married the love of his life therapist Dr. Barbara Buchwald. They live on Fisher Island, Florida, enjoying her many grandchildren. Previously Trustman was married to Playboy magazine cartoon editor Michelle Urry.


Writing credits

1999The Thomas Crown AffairStoryAs Alan R. Trustman
1995Fallen Angels (TV Series)Writer1 episode Red Wind
1976The Next ManWriterStory and Screenplay
1976Crime and PassionWriterUncredited
1973Lady IceWriter
1970They Call Me Mister Tibbs!WriterStory and Screenplay
1968The Thomas Crown AffairWriterStory and Screenplay

Acting Credit

Year Film Role Notes
2015 Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans Himself Documentary

Producing Credits

1988The TrackerExecutive ProducerMade for Television


  1. Mike Jaccarino (August 28, 2011). "'Thomas Crown Affair' screenwriter Alan Trustman talks films, working with Steve McQueen". New York Daily News. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  2. Robin Smith (26 February 2014). "A pre-Oscars interview with screenwriter Alan Trustman". The Aspen Business Journal. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  3. The Film Critics of the New York Times (April 29, 2003). "The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made". The New York Times. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  4. Lloyd Paseman (August 6, 1999). "Classy 1968 version worth another look". Eugene Register-Guard.
  5. Jeff Stafford. "The Thomas Crown Affair". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  6. Marc Meyers (27 January 2011). "Alan Trustman on Bullitt". Jazz Wax. Archived from the original on 23 May 2014. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  7. Alan Trustman (2003). The Screenplay Sell: What Every Writer Should Know. Lincoln, Nebraska: IUniverse. p. 64. ISBN 9780595280841.
  8. SON OF `BULLITT': [Home Edition 1] Klady, Leonard. Los Angeles Times10 May 1987: 23.
  9. Craps, Currency and Writing for Profit By ADRIENNE LESSER. New York Times 6 Dec 1992: LI23.
  10. On the Set; On a Hot Chandler Night; SHOWTIME ADAPTS 'RED WIND' AS A 'FALLEN ANGELS' PROJECT: [Orange County Edition] King, Susan. Los Angeles Times 26 Nov 1995: 8.
  11. Corman sets his sights high with Ho: [Final Edition] The Vancouver Sun; Vancouver, B.C. [Vancouver, B.C]21 May 1999: D8.
  12. Alan Trustman; Robin Smith (March 2, 2014). "You say you're in the movies? NOT!". Denver iJournal. Archived from the original on May 9, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
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