For Reel

To Catch a Thief (1955)
February 13, 2016, 1:30 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
3.5 Stars
To Catch a ThiefHitchcock admitted in interview that To Catch a Thief was a “vacation movie.” That was indeed the case for Cary Grant, who after briefly considering retirement returned to the screen for the promise of co-starring with Grace Kelly and filming on the French Riviera. Similarly, audiences have noted that To Catch a Thief is arguably among Hitchcock’s lightest and most pleasurable works, rife with sexual innuendos and comparatively little violence. There is slightly more going on than beautiful French vistas and erotic dialogue, however–it marks a nicely compact turning point in Hitchcock’s career, both looking back to The Birds with a self-referential cameo and looking forward to later masterpieces like Vertigo (with the meaningful insistence upon jade lighting) and North By Northwest (with a scene involving a threatening plane looming overhead). Kelly is used remarkably well as a bored socialite. She enjoys toying with Grant with a certain detachment in the early-goings, but by the time he invites her to participate in a car chase, she’s completely aroused by the excitement of it all. Rarely in a Hitchcock film is someone so openly titillated about the idea of participating in the narrative. Similarly, it is a picture in which the characters revel in the their disguises, whether that be as a means of discarding past identities (Grant’s wish to retreat from his thieving past; Jessie Royce Landis asking to be referred to by her first name) or opening the possibilities for new ones. The fireworks scene is among the most outrageous erotic moments in Hollywood cinema–so much so that some of the sensuality is lost among the inevitable snickering–but it is a microcosm of the film itself, lightly amusing and still occupied with such radical, distinct touches.

2 Comments so far
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The driving scenes made me extremely nervous. To the point of nausea.
All I can recall about the film, actually.

Comment by Movie Quibble

It’s not a terribly memorable movie, but that sequence is definitely the standout! I love how the scene is set up with Grant coaxing Kelly into the getaway, and then by the end the dynamic has so shifted that Grant is utterly horrified for his life while Kelly is turned on by the danger.

Comment by Eric Fuerst

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