Wednesday, October 13, 2010

To Catch a Thief

Hitchcock, 1955, 120m

Cary Grant is John Robie, a former high profile burglar specializing in jewelry. He was nicknamed the Cat, due to his stealth and prowess in scaling upper floors and moving along rooftops. He lives in his picturesque villa on the French Riviera with a housekeeper who bakes cakes "light as air" and who in another time "strangled a general without a sound". He is no longer professionally active but a series of jewelry thefts again puts him under suspicion and he resolves to catch the new Cat to clear himself. To this you can add an American millionairess and her daughter (Grace Kelly) to fill the comic and romantic slots respectively.

The film's unforgettable-ness lies in the ravishing picturization of the Riviera, with it's châteaux and ageless villages and vineyards, a locale where even crime cannot but be sport. Two chase sequences are a good enough excuse for some magnificent aerial photography and we peer down the dizzy colorful ravines with the Mediterranean Sea stretching away from the coast. Everything is a pretext to frame a travelogue through what could be some of the loveliest vistas on the planet, and this dazzling feast for the eyes is what makes this film well worth it's pennies. After all, a Hitchcock movie is primarily about Hitchcock and his cinematography--cast, character and plot are but props.


Anonymous said...

Uh... It is Cary Grant, not Tony Curtis.

A minor Hitchcock, sure, and I don't love it much, but it's good travelogue, anyway. Robert Burks deservedely won an Oscar for his cinematography.

Your mistake reminds me that Curtis not only imitated Grant and but also played together with him in his movies - in the same year!

S. M. Rana said...

Thanks, corrected. The mistake is all the more unpardonable because Tony Curtis is a greater actor--I just love Some Like it Hot and Sweet Smell of Success, and inclined to view Boston Strangler.