To Catch A Thief American expatriate John Robie, living in high style on the Riviera, is a retired cat burglar. He must find out who a copycat is to keep a new wave of jewel thefts from being pinned on him. High on the list of prime victims is Jessie Stevens, in Europe to help daughter Frances find a suitable husband. The Lloyds of London insurance agent is using a thief to catch a thief. Take an especially close look at scene where Robie gets Jessie’s attention, dropping an expensive casino chip down the décolletage of a French roulette player.
Hitchcock’s Charming Romantic Bubble
To Catch A Thief There is much to like about Hitchcock’s TO CATCH A THIEF: Cary Grant and Grace Kelly at the height of their appeal, a witty script that offers Jessie Royce Landis one of the funniest roles ever seen in any Hitchcock film, and excellent cinematography designed to show off the beauties of Monte Carlo–all packaged in a lightweight tale that is two parts romance, two parts travelogue, one part comedy, and just enough classic Hitchcock suspense to keep this lighter-than-air confection from flying apart.
The well known story concerns a string of jewel robberies along the Riviera which lead local officials to suspect that a famous and long retired cat burglar (Grant) is once more on the prowl–but rather than hope the authorities will find the real culprit Grant elects to protect himself by unmasking the thief for himself. In the process he encounters an icy beauty (Kelly) who takes considerable pleasure in tantalizing him with her charms, her jewels, and her knowledge of his criminal past, and her mother (Landis), who is perhaps the best of the “clever matrons” to appear in any Hitchcock film. As the police close in, the three of them devise a plot to expose the thief and clear Grant, with whom Kelly has now fallen in love.
Unlike most Hitchcock’s most famous films, TO CATCH A THIEF offers nothing dark to trouble our thoughts, and it is perhaps best regarded as a romantic fantasia, the director’s vacation from his more typical material. While it will never compete with the more famous VERTIGO and REAR WINDOW of the same period, it is extremely well done and quite a bit of fun to watch. Viewers seeking a pleasant film with a romantic touch will enjoy it a great deal.