At the Movies: To Catch a Thief

Considering this week’s theme of luxe jewels and France, I didn’t really have much choice but to pick one of my very favorite movies, To Catch a Thief. I realize that most of you have probably seen it, but to be honest, I could watch this movie every week and never tire of it. Like some people have comfort food, this is my feel good visual feast. And although I own an older version, this collector’s edition DVD evidently has improved audio and much enhanced new video produced from the original VistaVision, as well as a bonus audio commentary with former film critic and director Peter Bogdanovich.

Although this romantic thriller from 1955 is not considered one of Hitchcock’s masterpieces, it is certainly one of his most beautiful with a fabulous setting, gorgeous cinematography, which earned Robert Burks an Oscar, and two of the most handsome actors ever to grace the screen – so I say, ignore the critics and enjoy!

For any of you who by some chance haven’t seen the film let me give you a quick introduction. Cary Grant, who came out of retirement to make this movie, plays the dashing John Robie, an ex jewel thief, whose nickname “The Cat” has followed him despite the fact he hasn’t stolen anything in 15 years. He lives graciously, eating quiche, drinking rosé and tending to his roses in his spectacular villa overlooking the Mediterranean on the French Riviera. But a string of recent burglaries among the visiting rich and famous, committed with his M.O.,  have the police on his trail. He teams up with the distressed Lloyds of London rep, whose firm insures all the local treasures, to try and solve the crime. Enter Jessie (played to perfection by Jessie Royce Landis) and Francie Stevens (Grace Kelly at her finest), a bit-rough-around-the-edges, bourbon-drinking American oil millionairess  and her seemingly spoiled daughter and of course the romance aspect of the film begins.

It is common knowledge that Hitchcock liked icy blondes (who turn into vixens as soon as the bedroom door is shut). Grace Kelly filled that role in this film to perfection. She never looked more beautiful than in Edith’s Head divine confections. In fact I was so in love with this dress that I wanted to have it copied for my wedding gown but didn’t have enough lead time. I’m sure I wasn’t the first to have that idea.

Here is Head’s sketch followed by the result of another stunning gown. I just adore the matching chiffon wrap.

Head said To Catch a Thief was her favorite project. She loved Kelly and even though she didn’t win the Oscar this time round, the costumes for the film are fabulous. This gold lamé gown for the costume ball scene was one of Head’s favorites.

Even the beach attire was stunning

And of course Grant looked dashing as well. His costumes in the film have a splash of Provencal chic .It’s easy to see why To Catch a Thief won the Oscar for cinematography – every scene is memorable visually. One of my favorites is the picnic scene.  Kelly is wearing yet another stunning dress by the way, but the way it is framed with the beautiful Mediterranean in the background is perfect. The sexual innuendo is hysterical and of course it follows the famous Corniche driving scene which is a bit ironic since the road where Cary Grant and Grace Kelly are pursued by the police is the same one where Kelly died in a car crash 27 years later.

If you’d like to learn more about Hitchcock, and “explore the great director’s style, art direction, and use of fashion,” Assouline publishes a wonderful title, “Hitchcock Style.”

And if you are looking for an hour and a half of unadulterated visual splendor and elegant chic then this is the film for you. Here is the trailer.

37 thoughts on “At the Movies: To Catch a Thief

  1. Oh my goodness! One of my favorite movies of all time. Grace Kelly and Cary Grant together are pure style and chemistry. I love all the stills you chose, and those chiffon dresses are just pure swoon. You are so right, what a perfect wedding gown it could be. I always think of Grace’s blond hair in the convertible with the Riviera in the back as so dreamy. There were gorgeous colors in this film. They almost remind me of Betty and Don Draper in Mad Men, I’d bet this was a main source of inspiration.

  2. I think those leading me had to bring out the vixen in all those blondes! though in reading about the cool Grace she was quite ready to wade into the waters with little coaxing. How great that the coolest most serene of all was in fact a sultry sensual woman. I am with you on watching it often- if one can’t they shouldn’t claim to love old movies. Cary Grant is watchable any time. I love your movie posts- I am still trying-and failing to Catch up on past blog posts from an ugly computer virus. no Catching up – Time is a Thief.

  3. Tied with “Roman Holiday” for my very favorite film. I know there are probably more witty or intellectual choices, but it just is. I just watched it with my honey for the zillionth time last week actually.

    Have a wonderful weekend Q!

  4. I loved your last feature film! This one is going on a post it, in my pocket and will be viewed with my parents when I go home and visit them in a couple of weeks. My dad is such the old school movie buff and would love this “date” :)
    Wonderful weekend to you!! XO

  5. My husband grew up in Monaco and made s’mores on the beach with Princess Grace…and not only was she beautiful, she also elevated America with her own grace and charm. One of my favorite films, c’est vrai!

  6. I adore “old” Hollywood where there was class and sophistication. Grace Kelly is absolutely stunning and I love her fashions! Have a great weekend!

  7. Oh, it’s one of my special treats to see the old Hollywood movie classics, I have seen this one at least twice and adore it for the exquisite sets and costumes! Thanks for the reminder!

  8. Oh my…. absolutely one of my favorites, too. I love seeing Head’s sketches. Two of the most beautiful actors, indeed! A perfect end to your wonderful luxe week. Have a great weekend Q! ; )

  9. Love your taste in movies–as it is identical to mine! For the CFDA Showhouse in NY this fall we had to choose a style icon and I chose Edith Head. The window treatment with it’s criss crossing “bodice”valence was made out of chiffon and was inspired by Grace Kelly’s white chiffon dress. The skirted table, made from silk organza was inspired by Grace Kelly’s dress in Rear Window. What a combination: Hitchcock/Edith Head/Grace Kelly! What perfect inspiration!

  10. Good choice and what can you say about how great this film is that hasn’t already been said? But thanks for the reminder to get this film out and look at it once again. They were the perfect couple and Hitchcock knew it.
    Great post as always. You have me hooked on your film reviews!

  11. Going on my Netflix list right now. Drool city over the Edith Head drawings. Would you recommend the book out on Edith Head?
    Lynn from Decor Arts Now

  12. Of course, perfect choice this week, just perfect. Cary Grant is my all time favorite. I always tell my husband CG is the only man I would ever leave him for and since he’s no longer with us, he’s safe :)
    Those Edith Head sketches, can you imagine owning them? I remember watching this movie when I was little and being captivated just the most magical thing in the world to me. What a great film it is. The Philadelphia Story is probably my favorite but this one is right up there.

  13. One of the most wonderful movies of all time. The styling, the wit, not even to mention the most beautiful locations in the world. Cary Grant Cary Grant Cary Grant. Not even George Clooney is Cary. Your pieces are on the way so be on the lookout. My daughter’s birthday today & I’m with her in Austin, so may be country-western dancing tonight (ugh) but it’s her favorite. xx’s my friend….

  14. It all seemed so glamourous, didn’t it? I miss that kind of glamour today. Stunning clothes; Edith Head was in a class by herself.

  15. I’ve seen this film a dozen times and NEVER tire of it! My favorite Hitchcock was “Rear Window”. You could tell that he, as well as the camera, adored GK. Thanks for the Assouline/Hitchcock tip…k

  16. We must be operating in some kind of parallel universe! This is one of my favourite feel good movies and the clothes are to die for. Whilst at the supermarket on my recent trip to the UK, stocking up with British goodies, they had a three DVD’s for £10.00 offer, coincidentally this was one of the films I bought.

    I think I must be a frustrated jewel thief, I love a good heist movie, ‘Gambit’ is another favourite of mine.

  17. We own almost no movies on dvd (or tape), all of them gifts. But on those rare occasions when we have talked about actually purchasing a film, this has been one of the two or three we discussed, so you can imagine that today’s selection is a winner in my book. I am fortunate to have an Edith Head on the wall, a gift from my mother, it is something I treasure, what a talent.

    May your weekend be bliss!

  18. One of my very favorite movie of all times! must have seen it at least a dozen times. Our summer house was on the Corniche in Eze Village where parts of the movie were shot. The Cote d’Azur was so beautiful, quaint and elegant in those days. I still remember gentlemen calling on my aunt, wearing perfect black tie and my aunt so glamorous in her evening gowns, going for an evening of dining and gambling at the Casino de Paris. Sadly those days are gone, but this movie always bring back these beautiful summer memories.

  19. One of my all time favourite films! The scenery, the clothes, the lead actors – absolutely everything about this film is divine.

    The other Hitchcock film that is also one of my favourite all time films is North by Northwest which also stars Cary Grant.

    Sandy K

  20. Ahh, such a fabulous movie! I really enjoy the movie reviews that you share with us… I have quite a little list of your recommendations—so thank you so so much for all of the work and time that you put into creating this fabulous blog. Truly one of my favorites…

    Have a wonderful start to the new week,

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