American expatriate John Robie living in high style on the Riviera is a retired cat burglar. He must find out who a copy cat 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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When our heroes watch the fireworks display from a hotel room, no light from the fireworks is reflected on any of the surfaces in the actual hotel room, despite the fact that it is a massive light display and they are watching it in the dark (because it's just a rear projection). See more »
I know you ought to be spanked with a hairbrush and sent back to school - public school - where they could pound some sense into you during recess.
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Romantic (as opposed to Thriller ) Hitch at his Best
It always amazes me when film "buffs" dismiss this nonpareil if a romantic mystery as less than the masterpiece it is.
Hitchcock fans in particular tend to fall into two groups (perhaps four considering those who have a preference for either his British films or his Hollywood efforts). The main division however seems to be between those who see Hitchcock as the master MYSTERY director and those who see him as the master THRILLER director. In truth, he was both, but his mysteries (of which this is one of the most delicious) were frequently not thrillers - and visa versa.
TO CATCH A THIEF, with Hitchcock's two favorite STAR stars, Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, backed by one of his best supporting casts of great character actors from John Williams' insurance detective (superb earlier work for Hitchcock in a similar role in DIAL M FOR MURDER and later in his TV series) to Jessie Royce Landis as Kelly's drolly amusing mother who sees through everything (she would go on to play GRANT's mother in NORTH BY NORTHWEST, but this may be her best role), and the spectacular scenery of the French Riviera is as good as romantic comedy/mystery gets.
Technical nits may be picked - the "day-for-night" shot where "John Robie" is nearly trapped and killed might have been more effective with today's faster film and real night filming, the elaborate masquerade ball may seem like a scene out of an earlier era to todays's elegance starved youngsters and the film's weakest moment may be the cut away from a moment of romantic "fireworks" to the real kind through the window in the background - but the "ball scene" has a great bit of trickery that always fools new audiences and the "cut away" has become a much quoted icon of romantic film making.
Yes, this is the film where Philadelphia's superb high society actress Grace Kelly met her husband-to-be, Prince Ranier of Monoco, and yes, the roads on which she is "shown" dangerously speeding with Grant in their open top roadster are the very cliff-hugging roads where she would eventually suffer her fatal stroke and crash, but that is all subtext to be appreciated or ignored as the modern viewer chooses for one of Hitchock's best mystery films.
I've been teaching a university course on Mystery Writing on the Stage and Screen for the better part of a decade now, and I always give over one session to the consideration of Hitchcock - the only DIRECTOR we spend that much time with. It's always a hard choice which of his later mysteries to focus on - the strong stage-linked DIAL M FOR MURDER (also Kelly showing her unexpected range), the excellent gimmickry of REAR WINDOW or the haunting double life of VERTIGO, the superbly acted intrigue with historical overtones of NOTORIOUS or even FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (the brilliant PSYCHO isn't in the running since it shines brighter as thriller than mystery), but I always come back to TO CATCH A THIEF. The mystery is as tightly written as any in the cannon, is even more beautifully acted and as the first use of THIS studio's widescreen process, is sumptuously filmed.
It's simply too much FUN not to enjoy regularly at any age, and thankfully, my students seem to appreciate the delicious fun - masterfully staged, played and filmed.
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