Who better to have starred in a suspenseful, romantic Hitchcock film in the 1950s than Cary Grant and Grace Kelly? “To Catch a Thief,” a 1954 classic, is not considered one of Hitchcock’s best films. Critics state that it is not as dramatic and tends to be more comedic than frightening. Regardless of mixed reviews from critics, Rotten Tomatoes gives “To Catch...” a 96% critics score and an 84% audience score, they state it may be “coasting on pure charm, but…has a pair of perfectly matched stars in Cary Grant and Grace Kelly.”
Filmed almost entirely in the South of France, including Caines and Nice, if the actors are not charming enough for you, the scenery sure will be. Here is a list of almost all of the filming locations from “To Catch…” exquisite countryside and lavish settings seem appropriate for a famed jewel thief.
This is the second film we are watching in this series that has Hitchcock directing Cary Grant in a case of mistaken identity (Remember North by Northwest earlier in the week). In this one, no one is mistaken for a United States intelligence agent mistaken for murder in “To Catch…” In this film, John “Robbie,” played by, Grant is a retired cat burglar who is living away from all that glitters to keep him away from temptation. However, he is now the number one suspect in a string of robberies in Nice and Cannes and must come out of hiding to clear his name.
“John Robie: You’re here in Europe to buy a husband.
Frances Stevens: The man I want doesn’t have a price.
John Robie: That eliminates me.”
Along the way, he meets “Frances” Frances Stevens, played by Grace Kelly. She is a wealthy American traveling with her mother to find a man, or so they say. She is cool, calm, and collected at all times. Obviously wealthy and obviously spoiled. Her exquisite fashion made possible by the legend costume designer Edith Head.
You can never go wrong with Grant and Kelly on-screen together because their charm is overwhelming, and their witty dialogue just fast-paced enough to keep the film going even if it does lack the suspense his usual films ooze. In the usual Hitchcock fashion, the famed director does not disappoint with his signature cameo. This time it is close to the beginning of the film on the bus sitting next to Grant. Although he is sitting next to a lady with a birdcage, this is pre “The Birds.”
The shots of the Riveria are breathtaking. Even though there was some criticism of the quality of the filming, and it should be noted that this film was the first Hitchcock film to use VistaVision widescreen process, which could have something to do with it. There is another girl in the film, Jessie played by Jessie Royce Landis, that brings up the fact that she is so much younger than the “older American,” referring to Grace Kelly, yet in real life, the actress was actually a year and a half older than Kelly.
This may not be everyone’s taste of films, but you have to acknowledge the classic Hitchcock feel and the Hollywood legends in Grant and Kelly with an iconic backdrop of the French Riveria. You really can not go wrong with this film. As The New York Times determined in their review, “To Catch a Thief” does nothing but give out a good, exciting time. If you’ll settle for that at a movie, you should give it your custom right now.”
And the question remains of who is the actual jewel thief?
Watch the movie and find out. I am not here to give you all the answers.