To Catch a Thief (1955) Poster


On 14 September 1982, Grace Kelly was killed in an automobile accident in Monaco, supposedly on the very same road as her famous chase scene in this film and not far from where she had a picnic scene with Cary Grant. She was 52 years old and lost control of her car after apparently suffering a stroke while at the wheel.
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Cary Grant had announced his retirement from acting in February 1953, stating that since the rise of Method actors like Marlon Brando, most people were no longer interested in seeing him. He was also angry at the way Charles Chaplin had been treated by the HUAAC. He was lured out of his retirement to make this film, and thereafter, continued acting for a further 11 years.
The lines in the picnic scene -- when Francie (Grace Kelly) asks John (Cary Grant), "Do you want a leg or a breast?" and he responds, "You make the choice." -- were improvised.
John Robie mentions that as a youth he was in a trapeze group that traveled around Europe. In real life, Cary Grant was in an acrobatic troupe that toured around Europe (and eventually brought him to America) when he was young.
The boat that Danielle (Brigitte Auber) and John (Cary Grant) travel in early in the film is named the "Maquis Mouse": a play on Maquis (the French underground) and Mickey Mouse.
John Robie was 34 in the novel. Cary Grant was 50 at the time of filming.
In the scene on the float platform, Danielle makes a point of how much younger she is than Frances. In fact, Brigitte Auber (b. April 1928) was a year and a half older than Grace Kelly (b. November 1929).
Hitchcock asked if chase scenes could be filmed from a helicopter, which required some ingenuity, as camera mounts did not exist for this purpose at the time. Using a Sikorsky S-51, UK registered G-AJOV, a former BEA airframe, the side door was removed and the camera jerry-rigged with ropes, wires and cables. These shots were done in July 1954, according to a "Making of" short documentary included in a dvd release.
For the scene between Robie and the insurance agent, when they talk about the cook's sensitive hands, the German version of the movie differs completely from the original. In English, Robie notes she once strangled a German general without a sound, while in German, he says she once caught a lion escaped from a circus with her bare hands.
In this film Jessie Royce Landis plays Cary Grant's potential mother-in-law. In North by Northwest (1959), she would play his actual mother.
There are two references to Alfred Hitchcock's dislike of runny egg yolks. At the beginning, when the restaurant's kitchen staff -- his fellow ex-cons and comrades from the French resistance -- believe Cary Grant to be responsible for the recent thefts, someone throws a raw egg, which hits the glass and splatters. (One of them also offers him a saucer of milk, referring to his former nickname, "the Cat".) Later in the movie, Jessie Royce Landis puts out a cigarette in a sunny-side-up egg. On the other hand, when he invites the insurance man (John Williams) to lunch, he serves a quiche Lorraine.
French actor Charles Vanel (as Bertani) could not speak a word of English. All his lines were dubbed.
Cary Grant has only one line for the whole beginning of the film. He doesn't speak his second line until 14 minutes into it.
Francie (Grace Kelly)'s car is a Sunbeam-Talbot Alpine Sports Mk I roadster.
The two leads ranked #8 on Moviefone's 'The Top 25 Sexiest Movie Couples'. [May 2008]
In an early shot, a newspaper article called "Europe's Lighter Side" by Art Buchwald speculates on whether "the Cat" is on the prowl again. Buchwald actually wrote a column by that title for the New York Herald Tribune's European edition early in his career. He left school and moved to Paris in 1948, seven years before this film was released.
Grace Kelly made three of her eleven films with Alfred Hitchcock; To Catch a Thief (1955), Dial M for Murder (1954), and Rear Window (1954), which was often thought of as the best one.
When everyone is reading the newspaper and Mrs. Stevens says, "Everyone in Philadelphia reads the Bulletin," it's a reference to a long-running ad campaign for that newspaper. The ads were cartoons that showed something extraordinary going on -- in a light-hearted vein -- but no one sees it because they are all holding the newspaper in front of them. There is always one person who is not reading the Bulletin and trying frantically to get the attention of all the other people. The caption was always the same, "Nearly everyone in Philadelphia reads the Bulletin."
"Robie" was supposed to sound like robber.
Before the film was released there was some concern that the age difference between Cary Grant and Grace Kelly was too great. He was 50 and she was 24.
The filming of this movie on the French Riviera plays a pivotal role in Wu Ming's novel "54". The action takes place in the springtime of 1954, and nearly all the characters in the novel (including Cary Grant, an Italian American mafioso nicknamed "Steve Cement", and two Parisian gangsters from Rififi (1955)) cross each other's path in Cannes and Nice.
There are subliminal shots of a black cat the first few times that John Robie (Cary Grant) appears. John's nickname is "the cat", because of his stealth ability.
According to Paramount production files contained at the AMPAS Library, Alec Coppel worked on the script for about a week in mid-November 1954, shortly before the final set of retakes was done.
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A completely coincidental bit of humor can be found in the scene on the bus where Robie looks to his right and sees a cage full of birds on the seat beside him, then looks the other way and sees Alfred Hitchcock sitting at his left. Eight years later came the release of Hitchcock's [Link=tt0056869].
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Cary Grant was only one year younger than John Williams, who plays HH Hughson from Lloyds.
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Director Cameo 

Alfred Hitchcock: about 9 minutes in, sitting next to John Robie (Cary Grant) on the bus.


The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

Towards the end, when Francie and her Mother pass a newsstand with a newspaper reporting the burglar's death, Francie's Mother remarks, "In Philadelphia, almost everyone reads the Bulletin." Grace Kelly was a native of Philadelphia.

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