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"To Catch a Thief"

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Character's Name: John Robie
Release Date:  September, 1955
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Studio:  Paramount Pictures
Running Time: 103 minutes

Cast:  Cary Grant (John Robie), Grace Kelly (Frances Stevens), Jessie Royce Landis (Mrs. Stevens), John Williams (H.H. Hughson), Charles Vanel (Bertani), Brigitte Auber (Danielle), Jean Martinelli (Foussard), Georgette Anya (Germaine)

- by Zo Shaw
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.

VARIETY 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 story line.

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 thrills.

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 mastered him.

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 restaurateur.  

"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 in.

- 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 shed be catnip to him. Grace Kellys 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 shes a pampered girl whos husband hunting in Europe. She says, "The man I want doesnt 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 hed like a leg or a breast. True to plan, he says, "Ill let you decide."

John Robies plan works. After the cat burglar is caught, John kisses Francie and tells her, "I guess Im 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

To Catch A Thief - Sunbeam-Talbot Alpine SportsA 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."

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