Film Flick: To Catch a Thief

Friday, July 19, 2013

Those who don't enjoy To Catch a Thief miss the point- Sure, it is Alfred Hitchcock directing, but to minimize Hitchcock as merely the Master of Suspense (though films like Vertigo and Rear Window surely testify that he is that) is to miss so much. 1954's To Catch a Thief is story more in line with adventure thrillers like the Bond films or even romantic comedies. It is above all a film about style- with sparkling jewels, costumes from the legendary Edith Head, and a backdrop of the French Riviera all serving to heighten the glamour of lead actors Cary Grant and Grace Kelly.

When a string of high-stakes jewel heists all appear to have the trademark style of the infamous "Cat" burglar, John Robie, the man himself is naturally suspected. Nevermind that the Robie (Cary Grant) is enjoying retirement on a parole earned by fighting for the French Resistance years earlier. His fellow thieves-turned-freedom-fighters also seem to suspect him, and resent the threat to their freedom such actions bring. It is only thanks to Danielle, the coquettish teenage daughter of one of his ex-comrades, that he able to escape capture. Robie decides the only way to clear his name is to bring this new thief to justice. Along the way, he befriends an insurance agent, a wealthy (jewel owning) widow, and her daughter. Francie Stevens (Grace Kelly) is not the prim and proper daughter of the nouveau riche she seems though. Will any of these new friends help him, or bring him closer to his ultimate demise?

The third and final film Grace Kelly would do with Hitchcock, the actress  epitomized his ideal of the cool blonde. He called her a "snow-covered volcano" referring to the juxtaposition presented by her off-screen persona as elegant ice-queen, but also a man-eater (as one person put it she seduced men even "all the time wearing those white gloves"). This film seems almost obsessive about her beauty, especially with one famous scene where shadows black out her head, leaving the audience to focus on her gorgeous form and the jewels around her neck. In fact, her complexion was so good ("peaches and cream" as the head make-up artist described) that she only required the smallest amount of blush, and, dressed in cool colors, she stood out against the vibrant Cote D'Azur backdrop even more.


Though it was the pair's only film together, Cary Grant seemed like the only Hollywood star who could match her in elegance and style. Grant, though, was in a self-imposed retirement at the time of filming. He believed that the new wave of Method actors, such as Marlen Brando and James Dean, would make "his type of actor" unnecessary or unappealing to audiences. Upon reading the script though (significantly, the woman is the romantic pursuer, something the aging Grant would request again for later films), Grant agreed to again work with Hitchcock (and, in fact, would go on to make 11 more films).



The two stars have undeniable chemistry that oozes off the screen, culminating in one of the most electric love scenes on screen, where the action is interspersed with fireworks. Though some might argue that is a little heavy-handed, it barely passed the Hayes Code at the time. In fact, the two had such good repertoire with each other and with Hitchcock, that they were allowed to improvise, even on major love scenes.

So, who cares if the plot is not a great mystery; watch for the Riviera, for the style, for the romance and it will make you too, want To Catch a Thief. 

9 comments

  1. Great post dear! :)

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  2. i wish people still wore gloves. i think i'm gonna bring it back, haha. and i know what i'm watching today! i have't seen grace kelly in action and now i'm dying to. thanks for the review!

    xo marlen
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    1. Oh, what did you think of it? Do tell!

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    2. i haven't watched it yet because the weather has been so nice, haha! i think i might tonight- i'll let you know my thoughts once i do!

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  3. Nice post dear<3
    followed u! stay in touch!

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    xx

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  4. Excellent film-- one of my favorites because of the two leads. And Hitchcock of course!

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    1. Definitely my favorite film so far from Grace Kelly, but I've only seen the other Hitchcock films (which I also liked but not as much).

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  5. Such a stylish film, and Grace Kelly is amazing!

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  6. I have never seen this film, but now you've got me convinced! I definitely need to watch it ones of these nights!

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