VOD film review: To Catch a Thief
Ivan Radford | On 24, Jan 2021
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Cast: Cary Grant, Grace Kelly
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Alfred Hitchcock is rightly revered as the Master of Suspense, but the director’s strength often lies not only in the tension he conjures up from his screw-tightening scenarios but in the other genre that feeds into his work: the romantic comedy. Finding the swooning fun in espionage, danger and odd-couple pairings, his work is some of the funniest and charming in cinema history – and nowhere is that more evident in 1955’s To Catch a Thief.
The caper follows a retired jewel thief, John Robie (Cary Grant), who is living it up on the French Riviera. But when jewels start getting stolen in the area, he finds himself as the prime suspect – and has no option but to catch the burglar himself to clear his name. It’s a nice twist on Hitchcock’s classic innocent-man set-up, giving us a hero who’s unabashedly got a guilty side, someone who doesn’t go on the run when he’s put in the frame, but saunters confidently towards the camera.
And who better to cast in that role than Cary Grant? Twinkling with the sapphire-blue of the Mediterranean coastline, Grant’s cat burglar doesn’t hesitate to befriend bored and spoilt heiress Francie (Grace Kelly) to achieve his aims. But he’s met his match in this young woman, who promptly captivates him with her wits and wiles as well as her glittering jewellery. Kelly and Grant are a perfectly glamorous pair, fizzing with chemistry and bubbling their way through tit-for-tat, innuendo-stuffed dialogue. Their snappy dynamic, with each one seeing through the other, brings an enjoyably cynical edge to the extravagant, wealthy lifestyles on display.
The rooftop climax is a dazzling little set piece, but even though this doesn’t rank among top-tier Hitchcock – Grant’s work with the director peaked with Notorious and North by Northwest and Kelly’s Rear Window is hard to beat – To Catch a Thief’s laissez-faire charms mask a smartly crafted confection.
To Catch a Thief is available on BBC iPlayer until 28th January 2021. It is also available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.