To Catch a Thief (1955) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Jessie Royce Landis and John Williams.
Fun and frolics on the French Riviera with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly are on offer in Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief, a picturesque holiday brochure of a film with a huge injection of Hollywood glamour. Grant plays John Robie, a reformed thief accused of reverting to his old ways following a spate of local robberies. Together with Kelly (daughter of a wealthy woman targeted), he endeavours to find the real thief to clear his name.
After his previous two films, Dial M for Murder and Rear Window, this represents a gear-down from Hitchcock as he employs a far more playful, easy-going tone. Cary Grant’s trouble-free charms are a good fit for the vacation feel of the production, with the radiant Kelly on-hand to lay-on her brand of mesmerising glamour. Together, and despite a noticeable age gap (he’s 50, she’s 24), they manage to conjure a few delightfully romantic moments.
While the film is primarily about the conflicting cat-and-mouse tactics of professional thieves, Hitchcock attempts to up-the-ante with a high-speed car chase (slightly hampered by some wonky rear projection) and tense rooftop action scenes.
While the adapted screenplay by John Michael Hayes (based on David Dodge novel) has its occasional moments, the film relies heavily on star-power to make its mark. There remains something run-of-the-mill about the plot – (you can see the influence on the Angelina Jolie/Johnny Depp vehicle The Tourist), as old-school Hollywood dazzle is used to paper-over the (dare I say) incidental-feeling story.
It’s a little bit like the film equivalent of easy listening music. You know what you’re going to get and there’s not that much to complain about. Although it’s some way from being Hitchcock’s finest hour, the cheerful approach and A-list star-quality nevertheless makes To Catch a Thief an effortlessly endearing experience. 3.5/5