Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Film | To Catch A Thief

A few weeks ago, I was able to check out another film in the local theater's Classic Series and this one was probably my favorite. It was 1955's Hitchcock thriller To Catch A Thief. It is so amazing to see a movie like this for the first time on the big screen. There is nothing like sitting in a darkened theater watching wonderful actors, with gorgeous gowns, visiting breathtaking locations in an amazing film.

As you read this post, you will notice the new layout of my film review posts. Sometimes I keep writing and the thoughts do not align correctly, so this way I can keep on track. There is also a new rating system at the bottom... each film will earn one to give film cans. Five being the best of course.


"For a moment he forgets he's a thief
--and she forgets she's a lady!"

Cary Grant as John Robie
Grace Kelly as Frances Stevens
Jessie Royce Landis as Jessie Stevens
John Williams as H. H. Hughson
Charles Vanel as Bertani
Brigitte Auber as Danielle Foussard

Suspected in a new series of gem heists in the luxury hotels of the French Riviera, reformed jewel thief John Robie (Cary Grant) sets out to clear himself -- and catch the real thief -- with the help of pampered heiress Frances Stevens (Grace Kelly). Robie's plan backfires, but Frances, who believes him guilty, proves her love by helping him escape, and the real criminal is exposed in a spine-tingling climax. [Netflix]

In the film, there is a car chase scene where Grace Kelly takes Cary Grant on a ride through the mountains that gets your heart racing. Watching the chase pursue, you get the idea that Kelly knows exactly why they are fleeing from the police and that hunch is confirmed once they reach their picnic destination. When they reach their picnic area, Kelly reveals she knows who Grant really is... and proceeds to tell him how she put it all together. I found Grace Kelly quite charismatic in this scene. Her performance really shows how clever her character thinks she is for figuring it out.

A piece of my favorite dialogue from this scene was the improvised chit-chat where Kelly asks "Do you want a leg or a breast?" and Grant responds "You make the choice."

Now there were plenty of funny coincidences that keep the police from catching them... one of which is a chicken crossing the road. The car driven by Grant and Kelly misses the chicken, but the police crash and start yelling at the chicken as the chicken just stands there not knowing the mess it caused. I found this quite amusing because that is exactly how my chickens act... completely unaware of everything.

Prior to see the film, I learned that the same road the car chase happens is the same stretch of road that Grace Kelly would meet her demise many years later. It is believed she had a stroke while driving, which cause the crash that would take her life. While that scene was my favorite in the film, knowing this gives it a bitter feeling as well.

To Catch a Thief would be Grace Kelly's final film for Hitchcock. Her career in Hollywood would end a few years later when she became Princess Grace of Monaco. At the same time, this would be Cary Grant's first film after announcing his retirement. He believed his style of acting was becoming unfavorable with method actors like Marlon Brando coming into fashion. Luckily Hitchcock was able to lure him out of his decision and he would continue acting for eleven more years.

While it was filmed in the summer of 1954, its release was delayed until 1955 because the studio thought the age difference between the lead characters didn't make for a believable romance. I think that is just silly, Grant was just as charming here as he had been 10 years earlier. It's obvious the public shared my same sentiments because the film went on to become one of the biggest hits of the decade.

Hitchcock made a cameo in most of his films, but this one was very obvious. When Grant's character boards the bus to avoid being arrested, he sits next to the director. From the films I have seen of Hitchcock's, this was his most obvious appearance.

Shot in the widescreen process Vistavision and beautiful Technicolor, To Catch A Thief was a gorgeous piece of cinema. With it's gorgeous scenic shots and Hitchcock direction, it was a lot to take in... in a good way.

Edith Head showcases why she deserved an Academy Award nomination for her designs. I didn't think it could get any better than Grace Kelly's wardrobe in Rear Window, but then came To Catch A Thief. The gorgeous designs were just as much a character as Kelly and Grant were. The scene where Kelly and Grant were going to the beach is a prime example of how beautiful her designs were... everyone in the hotel turned and couldn't keep their eyes off Grace. My favorite gown was the powder blue gown Kelly wears in her first meeting with Grant.

Ever since I became interested in Classic Hollywood, Grace Kelly had never struck me as someone I wanted to watch in a film. I had only seen her in pictures, and she just seemed stiff and boring to me. After seeing her in Rear Window awhile back and now in To Catch A Thief, I am honored to admit I was wrong. She demands your attention in every one of her scenes, even taking my attention from two of my favorite actors... James Stewart and Cary Grant. Her style of acting is witty, personable, and just plain fun to watch. I look forward to exploring more of her, in my opinion very short, filmography. I also hope that my first impressions of other stars turn out to be wrong. [ie. Ingrid Bergman]



  1. I think the Hitchcock cameo in this film is my favorite, too funny.
    That's interesting about the Kelly-Grant age difference concerns. It doesn't seem as obvious to me as say Audrey Hepburn and Gary Cooper in "Love in the Afternoon." (Also we all know that age didn't stop Miss Kelly from her love affairs *ahem* Bing Crosby and Gary Cooper).
    The clothes in this movie are sooo beautiful. Barbie recently put out a Grace Kelly Barbie wearing the blue dress:
    I kinda want it...haha

  2. Did you know that Alfred Hitchcock presents comes on antenna TV at night now? I love it.