To Catch a Thief (1955) B+
Cary Grant at his most suave (and paranoid) and Grace Kelly at her most stunningly beautiful, erotic (and suspicious) in Hitchcock's “To Catch a Thief,” a serio romantic comedy-thriller, lushly shot in the French Riviera, with some sequences in Cannes, where the famous festival takes place.
“To Catch a Thief” is considered by most critics to be a fluffy, inconsequential film, but I think it's an unfair assessment. Perhaps Hitchcock himself made a mistake by conceding to French journalists that that the picture was lightweight compared to his other works.
There's plenty of pleasure and joy, not the least of which is its sleek and elegant look courtesy of the dazzling color topography of the Cote d'Azur by Robert Burks, which deservedly won the Cinematography Oscar.
To be fair, the mood of this piece is relaxed and the tone entertaining mood, but the charms and merits of the film go beyond the Riviera location. Deep down, like in every Hitchcock film, there is a tale that probes serous issues such as trust, romance and true love.
Grant plays Hon Robie, a former American thief known as “The Cat,” who is now retired, living in a gorgeous villa in the hills of the French Riviera. When the region is again hit by a cycle of jewel robberies, he becomes the prime suspect. Main story deal with his encounters with the seductive American socialite Frances Stevens (Grace Kelly), while trying to prove his innocence to her and her eccentric mother,
Mrs. Jessie Stevens (Joyce Landis, who several years later played Cary Grant's mother in Hitchcock's “North By Northwest”).
It takes about 20 minutes for Grace Kelly to appear in a sensuous scene on the beach, wearing a bathing suit and dark glasses, and another chapter for the coupe to meet and start arguing, bickering, and courting before realizing how deeply they have fallen in love with each other.
Oscar Nominations: 3
Cinematography (color): Robert Burks
Art Direction-Set Decoration (color): Hal Pereira and Joseph McMillan Johnson; Sam Comer and Arthur Krams
Costumes (color): Edith Head
Oscar Awards: 1
Robert Burks shots 12 of Hitchcock's 53 features, beginning with “Strangers on a Train” (1951), which was in black and white and for which he was also Oscar nominated, and including “Vertigo” and “The Birds.” The Art Direction Oscar went to “Picnic,” and Costume Design to “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing.”
John Robie (Cary Grant)
Frances Stevens (Grace Kelly)
Mrs. Jessie Stevens (Joyce Landis)
H.H. Hughson (John Williams)
Bertani (Charles Vanel)
Danielle Foussard (Brigitte Auber)
Foussard (Jean Martinelli)
Germaine (Georgette Anys)
Jean Hebey (Roland Lassafire)
Commissioner Lepic (Rene Blncard)
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay: Michael Hayes, based on the novel by David Dodge
Camera: Robert Burks
Editor: George Tomasini
Music: Lyn Murray
Art Direction: Hal Pereira, Joseph Macmillan Johnson
F/X: John P. Fulton
Costumes: Edith Head
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