- by Zoë
John Robie, "The
Cat," is a reformed jewel thief who now lives on the Riviera. When the
gendarmes suspect him of a series of thefts in Cannes, he sets out to catch
the thief and clear his name. He is supplied with a list of rich people who
might be on the thief's list. The daughter of one of the potential victims,
Frances, helps Robie catch his thief and in turn catches Robie.
- Donna Moore
John (The Cat) Robie (Cary Grant) is an ex cat burglar who
made a name for himself out on the tiles every night stealing the jewels of rich women.
However, during the war he reformed, joined the French Resistance and became a hero. Now,
however, someone is copying his technique and the police think that Robie has come out of
retirement. Robie escapes arrest and his first stop is at a restaurant managed and staffed
by some of his old prison pals. They too think he is guilty and would like to see him dead
for what they see as his betrayal. The police arrive at the restaurant and Robie escapes
again, with the help of Danielle, the daughter of one of the ex-cons. She has a crush on
Robie and wants him to go to South America with her.
Robie decides that the only way to clear his name is to
catch the copy-cat Cat. With the assistance of staid insurance agent Hughson, Robie gets
to know Mrs. Stevens and her daughter Frances, who are in town and positively dripping in
jewels. He poses as an American lumber man, but Frances guesses who he is and seems quite
thrilled with his dangerous and exciting life, until her mother's jewels are stolen. She
calls the police but again Robie escapes.
Robie finally unmasks the real jewel thief after a
sumptuous fancy dress party, attended by many rich and bejeweled guests. The final scene
on the roof of the villa is a treat, and I won't spoil it by revealing the culprit!
Cary Grant exudes a dangerous, devil-may-care
charm; Grace Kelly is gorgeous and the scenery of the French Riviera setting is amazing.
This is one of Hitchcock's more gentle films but still exciting for all that.
Film Review - July 20, 1955
- by "Brog"
- submitted by Barry Martin
Since the coming of the big screen and varied scopes there has
been a growing number of productions that give the stay-at-home
tourist a vicarious trip to far places. "To Catch a
Thief" fits rather handily into this travelog group, being
the type of glib comedy-drama, with an aura of sophistication,
that goes well with the scenic values of the Riviera strikingly,
if a bit self-consciously, displayed here in VistaVision. It's not
the suspense piece one usually associates with the Alfred
Hitchcock name, but there are compensation factors, including the
star teaming of Cary Grant and Grace Kelly , to indicate healthy
boxoffice in most playdates.
Cannes, the Carlton Hotel, the
flower market at Nice, the Cornish Road and sundry sights make up
the Riviera vista captured in Technicolor to enhance the story
playoff. While strong on sight and performance values, the picture
has some plot weaknesses and is not as smooth in the unfolding as
one would expect from an upper "A" presentation. Neater
editing then in the preview footage is called for, particularly in
the first third, to level off choppiness and sudden switches in
Symbolism plays quite a part in the
Hitchcock handling of the script by John Michael Hayes, which was
based on the novel by David Dodge. Sometimes it is overdone, but
again this points up need for smoother release editing. In some
spots, there's quite a saucy implication to the symbolism, as in
the darkened room sequence when Grant and Miss Kelly pitch romance
while a firecracker display is seen in the distance through the
window. That final, gigantic burst before fadeout hints that
things are popping within too.
Hayes' script is a conversation
piece, albeit the talk is suave and sophisticated, with a touch of
raciness here and there, that should fit preconceived hinterland
notions about what takes place along the Riviera. What suspense
there is comes from the fact Grant is a reformed jewel thief, once
known as "The Cat," but now living quietly in a Cannes
hilltop villa. When burglaries occur that seem to bear his old
trademark, he has to catch the thief to prove his innocence, a
chore in which he is assisted b Miss Kelly, rich American girl,
her mother, Jessie Royce Landis, and insurance agent John
Williams. While a suspense thread is present, Hitchcock doesn't emphasize
it, letting the yarn play lightly for comedy has more than
It's been several seasons since
Grant has made a film and, while this is no sock vehicle for the
screen return, it's not a weak one, either. Grant gives his role
his assured style of acting, meaning the dialog and situations
benefit. Miss Kelly, too, dresses up the sequences in more ways
than one. She clothes-horses through the footage in some fetching
Edith Head creations that will catch the femme eye and, at the
same time does justice to her spoiled rich girl character, a gal
who looks cold but ain't when romancing time with Grant comes up.
Support from Miss Landis and
Williams is first-rate, both being major assets to the
entertainment in their way with a line or a look. Poor dubbing on
the preview print made most of the other casters difficult to
understand. Also, there's considerable French mixed in with the
Yank talk, adding somewhat to lack of dialog clarity. Still, seen
to advantage are Charles Vanel, Brigitte Auber, Jean Martinelli
and Georgette Anya. A particular help to the footage is Miss Auber,
a pert French lass who would like to play house with Grant while
all the time she's the "cat" burglar he's seeking.
The scenic beauty of the foreign
locale is shown to advantage by Robert Burks' lensing, even though
some scenes appear to have been used for spectacular visual
qualities and not just for straight visual qualities and not just
for straight story furtherance. Lyn Murray's score is good.
NEW YORK TIMES Film Review -
August 5, 1955
- by Bosley Crowther
- submitted by Barry Martin
It takes a thief to catch a thief. That's the old saying,
anyhow. And that's the thesis Alfred Hitchcock is exhibiting
in his new mystery-thriller-romance at the Paramount. With
Cary Grant playing the catcher and Grace Kelly playing - well, we
won't say! - "To Catch a Thief" comes off completely as
a hit in the old Hitchcock style.
We're not saying much about Miss
Kelly, other than to observe that she is cool and exquisite and
superior as a presumably rich American girl traveling with her
mother in Europe in quest (her mother says) of a man. To say
more might tip you as to whether she is what you suspect her to be
- the jewel thief whom Mr. Grant is stalking through the lush
gambling-rooms and gilded chambers of French Riviera villas,
casinos and hotels.
As a matter of fact, we shouldn't
even tell you that you may rest entirely assured Mr. Grant himself
is not the slick cat-burglar he says his is out to catch, as a
matter of self-protection and to help an insurance man from
Lloyds. What with his being an acknowledged old gem thief,
living in a villa high above Cannes and chumming with a covey of
ex-convicts, he could be almost anything.
Well, he isn't the thief.
That much we'll tell you. He's the fellow who genuinely
tries to use his own knowledge of cat-burglary to nab the thief
who has been terrorizing Cannes and causing hysterics and
conniptions among the always ineffectual police. But then
there are enough other suspects - ex-convicts, French thugs and
pretty girls, not to mention that nervous Lloyds fellow - to let
us write off Mr. Grant.
In his accustomed manner, Mr.
Hitchcock his gone at this job with an omnivorous eye for catchy
details and a dandy John Michael Hayes script. Most of his
visual surprises are got this time with scenery - with the
fantastic, spectacular vistas along the breath-taking Cote d'Azur.
As no one has ever done before him,
Mr. Hitchcock has used that famous coast to form a pictorial
backdrop that fairly yanks your eyes out of your head.
Almost at the start, he gives you an automobile chase along roads
that wind through cliff-hanging seaside villages. The
surprise is that it is seen from the air! If you have ever
been on the Riviera, you can imagine how brilliant this is, in
color and VistaVision, splashed on that giant screen.
All the way through the picture, he
gets this sort of thing - shots from great heights down yawning
chasms, glimpses of ruins high on hills, views across
Mediterranean harbors and, usually, in the background, the blue
sea. And he winds up with a surge of production - a costume
party at a villa outside Cannes - that should make the Marquis de
Cuevas turn green.
True, there are times when the
color is not always so good as it should be, and Mr. Hitchcock's
camera man (or somebody) has a bad time with slow dissolves and
fades. He has not mastered VistaVision. It has almost
But the script and the actors keep
things popping, in a fast, slick, sophisticated vein. Mr.
Grant and Miss Kelly do grandly, especially in one sly seduction
scene. If you've never heard double-entendre, you will hear
it in this film. As the chap from Lloyds, John Williams is
delightfully anxious and dry, and Jessie Royce Landis is most
amusing as Miss Kelly's low-down American mom. Brigitte
Auber is fetching and funny as a frightfully forward French girl,
and Charles Vanel has the air of a rascal as a local
"To Catch a Thief" does
nothing but give out a good, exciting time. If you'll settle
for that at a movie, you should give it your custom right now.
- C.J. Dellard
This Hitchcock film masterfully deals with one of Hitch's
reoccurring themes: an innocent man being pinned for the crime. This is the story of
John "The Cat" Robe, a reformed jewel thief on the French Riviera, who is accused
of a robbery that is done in his style. With the help of a skeptical, rich American
beauty, he attempts to find the real cat burglar, but can he find the burglar before the burglar finds and kills him first?
- Kathy Fox
This is Cary Grant's
comeback movie after declaring his retirement from the screen in
1953. This is Cary's 60th movie and his third for Alfred Hitchcock
who was able to draw Cary out of retirement with a good script
co-starring Grace Kelly. Cary was particularly interested in
working with Mr. Hitchcock and Grace Kelly, and when he was
approached by Mr. Hitchcock, he could not refuse him. Cary made
SUSPICION in 1941 with Hitch, and NOTORIOUS in 1946 with Hitch and
then it was nine years later that he made TO CATCH A THIEF in
1955, then in another four years he would make NORTH BY NORTHWEST
in 1959, deemed too be Cary's best Hitchcock film. Wouldn't have
been great to have had another one or two movies directed by
Alfred Hitchcock during that 9-year period, but I guess it was not
to be. Cary plays the role of John Robie, who is a retired jewel
thief and who has served his time in prison. His crimes are now
being imitated by someone on the French Riviera and the police
suspect John Robie has returned to his earlier life of crime. Mr.
Robie decides to take it upon himself to find the copycat thief
himself and sets about to do just that, when he meets up with
Francis Stevens, played by Grace Kelly, and her mother, played by
Jessie Royce Landis. These women are very wealthy and Francis
expects that Mr. Robie is the robber, but Mrs. Stevens is much
wiser and does not expect Mr. Robie. Mrs. Stevens is also hunting
a good husband for her daughter in the form of John Robie.
In the meantime, Frances and John are falling in love against the
backdrop of the French Riviera. As in many of Cary's films, some
of the cutest and most captivating dialogue is ad libbed and this
is the case with TO CATCH A THIEF. The entire movie is filled with
double entendres, which makes the films very likeable and comical.
Cary is always the consummate comedian who at the same time wins
the hearts of his leading ladies and of men and women alike in the
audiences. All turns out well, when John Robie catches the real
thief, a young gal who was working for her father and a friend who
were in the Resistance with Robie. The movie happily when Francis
follows John to his home atop of a large mountain. In many of Cary
Grant's movies, the girl is the aggressor, and this is the case in
this movie. In reality, throughout Cary's career it would have
been hard to predict, but there is a pattern here which is quite
visible throughout his movies. What a legacy he has left behind.
He fills our hearts with love and laughter and there can never be
anyone like him again. He can never be replaced; that is his
beauty. He has been gone fifteen years the 29th of November this
year (2001) and his legacy lives on and on. That is the sign of a
great actor who just happened to impact this crazy world we live
- Mary Matthews
In To Catch a Thief, Cary Grant plays John Robie, a cat burglar who despite his self-proclaimed fifteen years of retirement, becomes a suspect when jewelry theft surges. on the French Riviera.
Incomparably beautiful Grace Kelly plays a wealthy American heiress, Francie Stevens, who looks like she’d be catnip to him. Grace Kelly’s impeccable wardrobe alone would
make watching the film worthwhile.
Realizing that she must be accustomed to men falling at her feet, John Robie plays it cool. He tells her he knows she’s a pampered girl who’s husband hunting in Europe.
She says, "The man I want doesn’t have a price." He tells her, "Well that eliminates me."
The dialogue is delightful. At their chicken picnic, above the French Riviera, she asks if he’d like a leg or a breast. True to plan, he says, "I’ll let you
John Robie’s plan works. After the cat burglar is caught, John kisses Francie and tells her, "I guess I’m not the lone wolf I thought I was."
Click here to read
Susanna's review of "To
Catch a Thief"
Click here to read Jenny's Crackpot
Reviews at the Cary Grant Shrine
wonderful fellow named Brian has been so helpful here.
He's discovered a site with some wonderful information about the
car from "To Catch a Thief."
<< Back to Reviews | Top of Page