Oddly, this is one Hitchcock film I’ve never got round to watching – maybe it’s because it wasn’t included in that box set I bought on DVD years back. Anyway, on a bleak and rainy Wednesday morning, its sunshine glamour and breezy demeanour proved most inviting. Thanks to its locations, this is arguably the nicest looking of all of the Master’s films. Cary Grant, dapper, delightful and dashing as ever, is former jewel thief John Robie (although every time I heard his name I kept thinking of the guy of the same name who produced New Order’s ‘Shellshock’ single) who is being accused of a new spate of burglaries that mimic his own M.O. He flees his very nice house to evade the police and ends up on the French Riveria, hoping to clear his name by predicting the burglar’s next move. He blags a list of the scene’s most likely targets – two of which are wealthy mother-and-daughter Jessie and Frances, whom he gets to become rather acquainted with, which is quite understandable when Frances is played by Grace Kelly, who as we all know is officially Beautiful. Cue lots of lively interplay between our stars, who both exude that classic old school Hollywood glamour in abundance, although I was even more impressed with the playfully flirtatious chemistry between Grant and the lovely Brigitte Auber as the daughter of one of Robie’s associates who helps him to flee the police.
As Hitchcock films go, this is no classic, even though there are some magnificent flourishes here and there – the mid-way car pursuit being the most famous, as well as the amusing cat motifs – it’s all very lightweight, albeit directed with class. The final act however loses its grip – the plot revelations are incidental and not very interesting, and as such, To Catch a Thief doesn’t linger in the mind much afterwards, even if for the most part it is as sumptuous as a three-course-meal. It’s just that the dessert is a little off, that’s all. Never mind, middle-weight Hitchcock is still a formidable thing indeed, and this has plenty of flair, humour, class and beauty. Ah yes. Beauty. Did I mention that Grace Kelly was beautiful? Sigh.