Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 “mystery, thriller romance” To Catch A Thief is a journey into a time most of us can only dream of. Part of the reason I love it, is that it stars my favourite icon of beauty, grace and style, the inimitable Grace Kelly. What makes it even better, is that it is set in one of my favourite places in the world – the French Riviera. I first watched this before I’d ever been, and it inspired a wanderlust that took me there less than a year later.
John Robie (Cary Grant), a retired cat burglar ( specialising in jewel thieving) is living the high life on the French Riviera, when he is accused of being behind a new spate of robberies, all bearing his signature. To prove his innocence, he sets out to find the true thief, trying to lure him with dazzling heiress Francie Steven’s (Grace Kelly) impressive collection of jewellery. The story line may be cheesy, but since when did we let a poor plot get in the way of a good story?
I’m talking about the costumes and the setting, mostly. The beautiful, clean French Riviera seduced my wanderlust and Grace Kelly’s costumes have captured my imagination. I’m also seriously envious of their deep, only-from-the-french-riviera tans, which had me lamenting to my sister, “If only tanning was still “safe” “
Grace looks like a goddess in almost every scene, and her first gown in particular, the soft blue one, was so amazingly gorgeous I could hardly take my eyes off it. I also liked her yellow beach ensemble, which was very chic. The costume ball was also fantastic – watch the way Grace’s gold gown looks like it is actually floating. Even Grant manages to look quite chic, for a cat burglar, and his house overlooking the hills is just so perfect. There’s a clean, yet crumbly charm to these buildings that you just wouldn’t quite get in films today.
Despite it being classified as a thriller, among other things, it still satisfies the “G” film rating. Despite being demure by today’s standards, it isn’t boring or without drama. I mean, J.Lo’s “The Back Up Plan” is rated M, and I don’t even have to watch it to know that it’s an embarrassment to the film industry. To Catch A Thief is one of my favourites, and is hands down my favourite classic. Watch it, and enjoy it for the costumes and the set if not anything else.