WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
John Robie (Cary Grant) aka The Cat- is former cat burglar. Having been pardoned by the French Government after spending WW2 fighting the Nazis as part of the Resistance, Robie now lives the good life in the South of France. When a jewel thief starts imitating Robieís unmistakable style, Robie has to prove his innocence before the cops decide to lock him up. To that end, he sets his sights on a rich American socialite, Jessie Stevens (Jessie Royce Landis), knowing that her storied collection of jewels will be too much for the new cat to resist. However, Robie doesnít contend with Jessieís sexy, vivacious daughter, Francie (Grace Kelly), whoís all too aware of Robieís reputation, and intends to catch a thief of her own.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
For director Alfred Hitchcock, TO CATCH A THIEF has always been considered one of his lighter films. Like the modern-day OCEANíS 11 movies, THIEF was little more than a piece of escapism, boasting gorgeous scenery, even more gorgeous people, and a caper plot that was lightweight in the extreme. One gets the idea that Robie doesnít care all that much that the cops think heís up to his old tricks, and for him, the whole exercise is more like sport than anything else. Heís having a good time on his little adventure, and director Alfred Hitchcock obviously wants us to feel the same way.
To that end, while itís rarely mistaken for one of his major works, TO CATCH A THIEF is a pretty damn good time. The role of gentleman cat burglar fits Cary Grant like a glove, with his dashing good looks, and worldly sophistication making him a bit of a proto-James Bond. Heís matched by Grace Kelly- whoís surely one of the most beautiful women ever to grace the silver screen. Despite a twenty-four year age difference (although Grant looks much younger than his fifty years)- the two had superb chemistry, and their love scene- set against fireworks on the Rivera is pretty hot stuff (Kelly was dead-sexy).
For Kelly, this was her last go-round with Hitchcock- with her becoming the Princess Grace of Monaco the following year. While it was a tragic loss for Hitchcock, who always considered her the perfect embodiment of his cool-blonde archetype, their run was a good one, and TO CATCH A THIEF ends their collaboration nicely. Grant- who wrongly felt he was over-the-hill at fifty and actually hadnít made a film for three years at this point, found his career as a leading man totally rejuvenated by this film- although his greatest collaboration with Hitchcock, NORTH BY NORTHWEST was still a few years away. While this isnít near that level, TO CATCH A THIEF has plenty of good set- pieces, including the climatic rooftop chase. More than anything, itís escapism, with the South of France in the mid-fifties being the ideal location for a sophisticated caper.
Thereís quite a few extras on TO CATCH A THIEF- which is notable for being one the only Hitchcock film produced by Paramount thatís still owned by the studio (Hitch himself owned REAR WINDOW, THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY, THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, VERTIGO & PSYCHO- and Universal, his home studio now controls them with the Hitchcock estate). Paramountís put a lot of work into the extras, many of which are culled from the previous 3 (!) DVD editions of the film. First up is a commentary track by Hitchcock expert Drew Casper- who did similar duties on a few of the other Hitchcock Blu-rayís Iíve recently reviewed. Casper also figures prominently in A night With the Hitchcocks where he moderates a USC panel with Hitchís daughter Pat, and his grand-daughter Mary Stone. Next up in Unacceptable Under The Code which examines the tactics (mostly double-entendres, and subtlety) Hitchcock used to flaunt the production code- which was still in effect during the time this was made. Writing and Casting TO CATCH A THIEF focuses on the genesis of the project, while The Making Of TO CATCH A THIEF takes us into the production itself. These featurettes are interesting, if a tad short- running only a bit over twenty minutes together. Behind the Gates: Cary Grant and Grace Kelly takes a quick look at the iconic careers of these two great stars, while TO CATCH A THIEF: A Appreciation remarks on Hitchís style in pulling off such a glamorous and classy caper. Finally, thereís a featurette called Edith Head: The Paramount Years focusing on the career of this costume designer, who designed all of Grace Kellyís costumes for the film. Next is an Interactive Travelogue , a still gallery and the trailer .
While this second-tier Hitchcock, this is still better than first-tier for most directors. TO CATCH A THIEF is a classy, sophisticated drama, and a very pleasant film to revisit from time to time. If, like me, you love Hitchcock, and the look of vintage 65mm photography in High-Def, this is a must-have.