TO CATCH A THIEF (1955) C widescreen 107m dir: Alfred Hitchcock
w/Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Jessie Royce Landis, John Williams, Charles Vanel, Brigitte Auber, Jean Martinelli, Georgette Anys, Roland Lessaffre, Rene Blancard
From Variety's contemporary review of the film: "Cary Grant is a reformed jewel thief, once known as 'The Cat,' but now living quietly in a Cannes hilltop villa. When burglaries occur that seem to bear his old trademark, he has to catch the thief to prove his innocence, a chore in which he is assisted by Grace Kelly, rich American girl, her mother, Jessie Royce Landis, and insurance agent John Williams. While a suspense thread is present, director Alfred Hitchcock doesn't emphasize it, letting the yarn play lightly for comedy more than thrills.
"Grant gives his role his assured style of acting, meaning the dialog and situations benefit. Kelly, too, dresses up the sequences in more ways than one.
"Support from Landis and Williams is firstrate, both being major assets to the entertainment in their way with a line or a look."
From the Slant magazine website (www.slantmagazine.com), this review of the film by Fernando F. Croce:
"The panoramic allure of To Catch a Thief --- its blatant reveling in the beauty of lush settings and glamorous movie stars --- has often led critics to downgrade its place in Alfred Hitchcock’s oeuvre. Indeed, the director himself encouraged a view of it as little more than a frothy diversion: A 'vacation movie,' he told an interviewer, yet from the very beginning (a shock-cut from a touristic pamphlet on a display window to a woman shrieking into the camera) it’s clear that the Master has packed his obsessions along with his luggage. John Robie, a.k.a. 'The Cat' (Cary Grant), is an ex-jewel thief who, upfront about his ill-gotten riches ('frankly dishonest' is how he’s blithely described to John Williams’s anxious security agent), savors retirement in a home overlooking the French Mediterranean coast. A series of diamond robberies places him as the main suspect, and, with both the police and his former Resistance comrades on his trail, he sets out to trap the real burglar. The innocent man on the run is an unmistakable Hitchcock trope, yet the culprit’s identity is his least urgent MacGuffin, less a thrust for suspense than a reason to get John to the French Riviera and into the hands of Frances (Grace Kelly), the lovely daughter of a wealthy American widow (a rich caricature by Jessie Royce Landis).
"Hitchcock and screenwriter John Michael Hayes posited voyeuristic spectacle as the essence of cinema in Rear Window; in To Catch a Thief they validate their thesis with plenty of spectacle to be voyeuristic over. Simply as a sample of Hollywood refreshment, it’s a smashing product, with acres of sensation on display for audience consumption --- from Cary Grant’s bronzed, middle-aged elegance to a dozen travelogues’ worth of paradisaical French vistas. Yet it is also more. Taking off from Lubitsch’s great metaphor of stealing-as-sex in Trouble in Paradise, Hitchcock uses the teasing, innuendo-laden romance growing between John and Frances to explore the various masks people wear in relationships (Landis complains about the 'cold diamonds' against her warm skin), a view acknowledged in the glitzy costume ball which culminates the intrigue. Just as the cat burglar fits his smooth amorality into a tuxedo, so does the classy ingenue’s chilly poise hide intimations of assertive, kinky desire, and you can practically hear Frances' soft moan of disappointment when she learns of John’s innocence. Delectably embodying the film’s fire/ice schism, Kelly is perhaps Hitchcock’s ultimate glacial blonde, drifting sexily with an amused appreciation for the director’s risque gags, both verbal ('I bet you told her all your trees were sequoias') and visual (her seduction of Grant intercut with the fireworks ejaculating outside). Like the film, she’s a svelte confection with perverse depths."
TO CATCH A THIEF received an Oscar for Best Cinematography (Robert Burks). It was also nominated for Best Art Direction (Hal Pereira, Joseph McMillan Johnson, Sam Comer, Arthur Krams) and Costume Design (Edith Head).