Country: United States
Genre: Suspense/ Comedy/ Romance
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
TRASH CINEMA ESSENTIAL MOVIE
Most movies date poorly. Go back to the early 70s and try to watch a film like, oh, I dunno, Prime Cut with Gene Hackman and Lee Marvin. It can be tough sledding.
On the other hand, modern audiences can still enjoy Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Gone With The Wind, The Godfather and other solid classics. Rock solid storytelling never goes out of style.
That’s what we have with To Catch a Thief.
Former cat burglar John Robie (Cary Grant) is enjoying his retirement in a villa above the French Riviera when something unfortunate happens. A copycat starts stealing jewels from high society matrons, imitating his MO to the letter. Naturally, the cops don’t believe Robie when he protests his innocence. The only thing to do is for Robie to catch the real thief in the act himself.
In order to do that, Robie will need to out think the thief, guess where he or she will strike next, and be there waiting. Robie guesses that the next target will be Jessie Stevens (Jessie Royce Landis), an uncouth American widow, so he makes a point of befriending her. Complicating Robie’s plans is Jessie’s daughter, Frances (Grace Kelly, at the peak of her lusciousness).
So, what’s so great about To Catch a Thief?
Let’s start with Alfred Hitchcock’s unfussy and classic narrative directing style. His camera is unobtrusive and places us exactly where we want to be.
Then there’s the nonstop elegant and urbane dialog from screenwriter John Michael Hayes. The plotting, from a novel by David Dodge, is likewise elegant, clever but simple to follow.
Finally, there is the tremendous charisma of the leads, especially Cary Grant.
What it all adds up to is a grand time at the movies. And, as a bonus, you get to see what the French Riviera looked like back in the 50s. Gorgeous. Makes me want to invent a time machine.
Wait a minute. Somebody already did. It’s called the movies.