To Catch a Thief (1955)

To Catch a Thief (1955) movie poster

director Alfred Hitchcock
viewed: 12/15/2013 at the Castro Theatre, SF, CA

The holidays at the Castro Theatre offered a few classics to which I thought I would like to take the kids.  Funny, I never even really thought how kid-friendly Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief might really be.  It had been years since I had seen it, though it was one that I had seen as a kid and that I recall my mom always liked.  I think, as well, it was one that I often conflated in my mind with Stanley Donen’s Charade (1963), which also starred the ever-charming Cary Grant.

My kids aren’t big on onscreen kissing, shielding their eyes and asking, “Is it over?” at the least locking of lips.  So, a romantic thriller, with a keen eye to the sexual innuendo, isn’t necessarily their cup of tea.  I don’t recall actually going through any such phase myself.

This is one of those movies that I feel like I saw dozens of times as a kid, but I don’t know.  Cary Grant is the retired cat burglar, “the Cat”, who was active up until WWII but then helped the Resistance and was a war hero, absolved of his crimes, until a mysterious burglar starts mimicking his style with big flashy heists on the Mediterranean.   He’s forced to hunt the new burglar to prove his innocence.  Where he meets up with the icy, gorgeous Grace Kelly, daughter of a nouveau riche American oil family, traveling the south of France with her widowed mother.

The cinematography of the French Riviera probably did as much as any promotion could have to boost tourism.  It’s gorgeous.  I want to be there.  Right now, in 1955.

The film perhaps isn’t one of Hitchcock’s most notable, but it’s a charming, glamorous, entertaining film.  Grace Kelly is the perfect Hollywood blond.  That nose, those lips.  Wowza.

I queried the kids afterwards to see which of the Hitchcock films that they had enjoyed the most, Psycho (1960), North by Northwest (1959), To Catch a Thief, Vertigo (1958) or The Birds (1963) and I guess it’s not surprising that the answer was The Birds.  But I do have to say that we’re doing pretty good with Hitchcock at this point.

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