To Catch a Thief (1955) / Mystery-Romance
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably PG for mild violence
Running Time: 106 min.
Cast: Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, John Williams, Jessie Royce Landis, Brigitte Auber, Charles Vanel, Jean Martinelli
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay: John Michael Hayes (based on the novel by David Dodge)
Review published March 26, 2003
To Catch a Thief is Alfred Hitchcock's second of four collaborations with screenwriter John Michael Hayes (Rear Window, The Trouble with Harry, The Man Who Knew Too Much were the others), bringing light mystery elements and a good dose of humor, wrapping them up in a crowd-pleasing package. Hitchcock also reunited with two of his favorite actors, Cary Grant (Suspicion, Charade) and Grace Kelly (Dial M for Murder, High Noon), ranking among the most memorable of works for both popular celebrities. It's a classic film, not a masterpiece by any means, but the elements of mystery, romance, and humor are so strong in all departments, there's few in its class as far as this genre goes. It's a lush, breezy affair, but a treat this superb could only come from the finest confectionaries.
Grant is John "The Cat" Robie, an American living on the French Riviera, now retired from being one of the world's most notorious cat burglars. When a rash of new burglaries happens in the area, Robie becomes prime suspect #1. The police are after him, so to clear his reformed name, Robie decides to try to nab the thief himself. Scoping out potential gigs, he encounters a rich American mother and daughter, the younger of which has her heart set on catching a man of her own -- a future husband.
I'm not sure what's the most satisfying aspect of To Catch a Thief: Hitchcock's sure-fire direction, the chemistry between Grant and Kelly, or the refreshingly witty script. Perhaps it's best to say that the union of all three are essential to making this film as good as it is, as it's hard to imagine this fluffy material working without any one of them.
The locales are beautiful, the colors vibrant, and the costumes magnificent, such that even those who don't care about the plot will find much to enjoy just from the scenery, and of course, the lead actors themselves. To Catch a Thief is definitely worth a look for all fans of Hitchcock and Grant, but it's a must-see for all of Grace Kelly's admirers, as she has never looked lovelier. Somewhere amid all of the film's biggest assets, the story gets lost, but that's not likely the reason someone would ever watch this, now is it?
©2003 Vince Leo