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To Catch A Thief

To Catch A Thief is so glamorous it positively purrs. The classic Hitchcock thriller stars Cary Grant as a reformed cat burglar under suspicion of a series of robberies in the French Riviera, and Grace Kelly as the aristocratic American heiress who thinks she’s got him figured out. If you haven’t seen it, or (like me) haven’t seen it in a long time, this movie is worth watching for several reasons. One, it’ll make you realize you need to spend some time in the south of France. And two, it’ll take you on a journey back in time, to a place you hadn’t realized was as far away. 1955. That’s 53 years ago – and, boy, has the world changed.

To Catch A Thief

Life just doesn’t seem as glamorous as this any more. Perhaps it’s a French Riviera thing, perhaps I need to get out more… But, apart from Cary Grant’s unappealing high-waisted pants and a cheesy love scene interspersed with fireworks, the world of To Catch A Thief is glitz central. It's a world where men are suave (and a little politically incorrect), women are dolls, and landscapes are positively regal.

Grant is slick in a way that even George Clooney can’t emulate (which may or may not be a good thing, depending on how you like your men), and Kelly is seemingly flawless. They fit perfectly into the backdrop, which is classic Riviera (save for some great blue screen driving shots and interiors filmed at Paramount Studios). Cannes features heavily, as does the city’s grand Hotel Carlton, which stars as itself.

To Catch A Thief

This movie will make you want to don a swing skirt and sunglasses, and sip champagne in a bougainvillea-draped café… Jump into a classic Sunbeam convertible, and take a drive up a winding mountain road… Or attend a masked ball dressed as a gilded princess. It may even make you want to climb around on French rooftops stealing jewels from unsuspecting widows, but we don’t advise it.

To Catch A Thief

To Catch A Thief may be a Hitchcock thriller, but it’s one of his lightest, an enjoyable adventure that’ll keep you guessing ‘til the final scenes on a Cannes rooftop. Endlessly photogenic (it won an Oscar for Best Color Cinematography), it twists and turns like the mountain roads Grant and Kelly career down at breakneck speed, with the police in pursuit.

To Catch A Thief

Ironically, Grace Kelly died at the wheel of her car almost thirty years later on the same roads. She’d quit the movie business and moved to nearby Monaco not long after the movie wrapped, having met her future husband Prince Rainier while filming on location. In the movie, she drove so fast Grant's character broke into a nervous sweat. In real life, it's thought she had a stroke behind the wheel. As you watch the movie, it's impossible not to think of it. – Roshan McArthur


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  • DannyB

    January 24, 2008

    Great post – I stayed at the Carlton in Cannes once when I was a kid – about the most glamorous place I’ve ever seen!

  • alex

    January 23, 2008

    My favorite scene is when The Cat is entertaining the aging English investigator and introduces him to something new at lunchtime.
    ‘What’s this?’ asks the Englishman.
    ‘Ah, this,’ says The Cat, ‘this is quiche.’
    ‘I’ve heard of it,’ says the Englishman. ‘But I’ve never tried it before.’

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