American expatriate John Robie, living in high style on the Riviera, is a retired cat burglar. He must find out who a copycat is to keep a new wave of jewel thefts from being pinned on him. High on the list of prime victims is Jessie Stevens, in Europe to help daughter Frances find a suitable husband. The Lloyds of London insurance agent is using a thief to catch a thief. Take an especially close look at scene where Robie gets Jessie's attention, dropping an expensive casino chip down the décolletage of a French roulette player.Written by
Dale O'Connor <email@example.com>
This is probably Hitchcock's most beautiful movie. Grace Kelly is well (but of course decorously) displayed in delicate and perfectly fitted summer dresses and evening gowns (designed by Edith Head) that show off her exquisite arms and shoulders while accentuating her elegant neck and jaw line--and, as she turns for the camera, the graceful line of her back. Opposite her is one of Hollywood's most dashing leading men, the incomparable Cary Grant.
The cinematography by long-time Hitchcock collaborator Robert Burks was shot on location in the French Riviera. The style is daylight clear and sparkling, bright as the dream of a princess to be, always focused without a hint of darkness anywhere. Even the scenes shot at night on the rooftops seem to glow. The houses on the hills overlooking Princess Grace's future home and the narrow cobble stone roads with the low-lying stone walls suggest a refined and elegant lifestyle to come. Even though she drives too fast, one is not worried that she might crash...
Cary Grant is John Robie who fought with the French resistance during WWII and then became a jewel thief, dubbed "The Cat" for his ability to slink quietly in the night over roof tops and to steal into the bedrooms of the rich and take their jewels without waking them. As the movie opens he is retired from his life of crime and living comfortably in a villa in the hills above Nice. The complications begin immediately as the police arrive at his villa to question him about some recent cat-like jewel robberies. Robie is innocent of course (we are led to believe) and to prove his innocence he is motivated to find the real thief.
Grace Kelly plays Frances Stevens, the slightly naughty nouveau riche daughter of the widow of a Texas-style oil millionaire. She is used to having men fall all over themselves trying to court her, but Robie seems uninterested, and this excites her fancy and she goes after him. It is interesting to note that by this time Cary Grant (51 when the film was released) had become such a heart throb that directors liked to have the women (who were always noticeably younger; Kelly was 26) chase after him. Audrey Hepburn does as much in Charade (1963). One notes that here, as in Charade, the women kiss Cary Grant first, not the other way around. Here it is nicely done as the previously demure Frances takes a surprising initiative at the door of her hotel suite.
The story itself is rather bland and predictable, reminding me of a James Bond flick from, say, the sixties as though toned down for an audience of old maids. Notable in supporting roles are Brigitte Auber as the athletic Danielle Foussard, John Williams as the British insurance agent, and Jessie Royce Landis as Frances Stevens' mother. Hitch makes his de rigueur appearance as a passenger on the mini-bus that Robie takes to get away from the gendarmes early in the film.
See this for Grace Kelly whose cool and playful demeanor and statuesque beauty form the heart of this somewhat languid romantic thriller.
(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)
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