TO CATCH A THIEF. 1955. DIRECTED BY ALFRED HITCHCOCK. STARRING CARY GRANT AND GRACE KELLY. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
This is an enjoyable romp set in the perpetually sunny French Riviera. The theme is jewels. Gorgeous, glittering jewels that start out by adorning the necks and wrists of some of the world’s richest women and end up lining the pockets of cat burglars and jewel thieves.
We’re not dealing with an international consortium of jewel thieves here. No, rather, we have just two thieves, one of them being John Robie, or Cary Grant at his suavest and handsomest. Known to the police as ‘The Cat’ for all the jewel robberies he’s committed in his heyday, he is now retired from the cat burglary business and spends his days quietly looking after his vineyards.
A new cat burglar is at work, however, fleecing the rich folk of the French Riviera, and the finger of suspicion naturally points straight at poor old Robie. Talk about once a jewel thief, always a jewel thief, eh…?
Robie is naturally rather miffed at being falsely accused. In his attempts to ferret out the identity of this new cat burglar and clear his own name in the process, he meets rich widow Jessie Stevens and her daughter, Frances, played by Grace Kelly. Ms. Kelly doesn’t enter the picture until at least half an hour into the film, her last with Alfred Hitchcock, but when she does, it’s hard to take one’s eyes off her.
She is, of course, stunningly beautiful, and the clothes she wears! In everything from her dinky little ‘Fifties swimming cossie to the magnificent golden gown, designed by Edith Head, which she wears to the Masquerade Ball towards the end of the film, she quite simply dazzles. She shimmers. She radiates pure class.
My personal favourite outfit of hers in this film is the white evening dress that envelops her perfect, tanned figure like a second skin. She wears it in the scene in which she kisses Cary Grant on a couch while fireworks literally explode in the background. Lucky Cary Grant, that’s all I can say…!
Does John Robie find out the identity of the new cat burglar who apes his methods and modus operandi so closely? Do Cary Grant and Grace Kelly fall in love and live happily ever after? Does Mrs. Stevens ever get her baubles and trinkets back?
This charming film answers all these questions and more against a backdrop of sun, sea, sand and sexual tension, gorgeous scenery and, naturally, some fabulous costume changes on the part of Grace Kelly, who surely was born to wear jewels, furs and evening gowns. Oh, and Alfred Hitchcock takes a ride on public transport next to a disgruntled Cary Grant. That’s quite funny to see.
I had the pleasure and privilege of seeing this film on the big screen recently and I don’t think I was the only person who left the screening with the pleasant feeling of having spent a most agreeable couple of hours in a different, long-gone and far, far more glamorous era than the one in which we live today.
Glamour, escapism, top-notch direction by Alfred Hitchcock and the unforgettable pairing of Grant and Kelly: What more could you possibly want from a classic movie…? I rest my case.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at: