“I’ve never caught a jewel thief before; it’s stimulating.”
During a rash of jewelry heists on the French Riviera, the daughter (Grace Kelly) of a wealthy widow (Jessie Royce Landis) tries to seduce a retired thief (Cary Grant) who’s busy attempting to clear his name.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Cary Grant Films
- Falsely Accused
- Grace Kelly Films
- Hitchcock Films
- Thieves and Criminals
Made just after Rear Window (1954) and several years before North by Northwest (1959), the romantic-thriller To Catch a Thief is generally acknowledged as one of Hitchcock’s lighter-weight efforts. He managed to lure Cary Grant out of early retirement to star opposite Grace Kelly, who would soon be enjoying an early retirement herself, as the new Princess of Monaco; indeed, cultural historians will be interested to learn that it was during the filming of this movie that Kelly “spied a beautiful, walled garden she wanted to tour”, though “arrangements with the owner, Prince Rainier, could not be made in time”, and they didn’t meet until the following year. At any rate, the storyline of To Catch a Thief — essentially a whodunit combined with one of Hitchcock’s favorite tropes, a falsely accused man attempting to clear his name — is indeed a mere trifle; the primary enjoyment rests in soaking up the truly marvelous vistas along the French Riviera, which DP Robert Burks managed to capture in stunning Technicolor (I’ll admit to salivating). Grant (in fit form) and Kelly (gorgeous, naturally) are both fine romantic leads, but it’s Jessie Royce Landis — perhaps best known for playing Grant’s mother in NXNW — who really stands out here, playing a refreshingly humble heiress who consistently surprises us with her relaxed attitude towards life.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Fabulous location shooting on the French Riviera
- Robert Burks’ Technicolor cinematography
- Jessie Royce Landis as Mrs. Stevens
No, though it’s recommended for one-time viewing, and certainly a must for Hitchcock, Grant, or Kelly fans.