182: To Catch a Thief

To Catch a Thief (PG) - 1955 - Runtime: 106 Minutes
Starring: Cary Grant, Grace Kelly
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
This may sound a bit naive, but I thought it was a little weird to see Hitchcock's name attached to this mystery/romance movie. I've always known him to be less the romantic type and more or a horror/thriller director. But what do I know? This is partly the reason I took up this project and I'm glad Maggie suggested this title while we were browsing the store.
Cary Grant stars as John Robie, an ex-jewel thief who has been living honest for quite some time in France. And when a series of robberies of very expensive jewels begins to happen along the French Riveria, it's up to John Robie to clear his name, as the police immediately suspect him. And in order to clear his name, he must catch the thief himself. His plan is fairly simple, to shack up with some rich lady himself and try to catch the thief in the act. However, Robie never planned on said rich lady's daughter (Grace Kelly) melting his heart in the process.
If this movie was released today, this would have had blockbuster written all over it: Two enormous stars at their respective peaks, Hitchcock, an established, well-known (and well-received) director, a dazzling and alluring location and a story based upon a best-selling book. It would have been weird if this movie didn't do well, 1955 or 2009. And it's very apparent that Hitchcock's fingerprints are all over this movie (not that I know too much about Hitchcock) as his signature appearance is in the movie, the cinemotagraphy is fairly stunning and there's enough tension and suspense for those disillusioned by romantic stories to be persuaded to sit through until the final scene.
Cary Grant is supposedly oozing sex in this movie, as we see him topless in countless scenes. Although I was wondering about his sexuality during the first moments of the movie - his choice of shirt and scarf/neck liner/hell if I know what that thing is made him look very effeminate. But then I realized he lives in France, so that explains a lot of the flamboyant costuming. Grace Kelly has always been a looker, but dear God, there were some awful costume choices in this movie (just wait until the masquerade ball). I was definitely shaking my head a few times. It's surprising to find out that this movie was nominated for best costume design. I guess the rest of the movies that year had all their characters wearing hobo outfits or something. But I digress...
Although I found myself getting quite bored during the middle of the movie, it never dissuaded me from wanting to know how things would end up, even though I was fairly certain how. I guess that's the sign of a good movie, where the characters are written so well that you want to spend time with them. But what I love most about movies from the 50s and before was the dialogue. Sometimes there just isn't enough good banter and witty back-and-forth between characters in movies nowadays, and I like how charming the movie stars always come across back then. And this movie has some great dialogue. Add on top of that a good little mystery story and this is an entertaining movie that still holds up more than 50 years later. As much as you can predict the ending and see where the movie is going, it's still fun and definitely worth your time.

Rating: Rent It!

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