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To Catch a Thief(1955)
U.S. expatriate John Robie living in high style on the Riviera is a retired cat burglar. He must find out who a copy cat is to keep a new wave of jewel thefts from being pinned on him. High on list of prime victims is Jessie Stevens, in Europe to help daughter Frances find a suitable husband. 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 decolletage of French roulette player. Filmed in VistaVision.
For more about To Catch a Thief and the To Catch a Thief Blu-ray release, see To Catch a Thief Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on February 25, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writer: John Michael Hayes
Starring: Cary Grant (I), Grace Kelly, Jessie Royce Landis, John Williams (II), Charles Vanel, Brigitte Auber
» See full cast & crew
To Catch a Thief Blu-ray Review
Make sure to catch this great Blu-ray release.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, February 25, 2012
If you love life, you'll love France.
To Catch a Thief doesn't exactly fit the mold of the traditional "Hitchcockian" motif of spine-tingling, edge-of-seat mystery that's generally the first thing to come to mind when pondering the master's works of filmed art. To Catch a Thief, while it does dabble in several other traditional Hitchcock elements, shapes a rather simple story of burgeoning romance, mistaken blame, and cunning mystery-solving, in that order of importance to the film. It's light as a feather and mostly predictable yet enjoyable to no end, a movie that's relaxed and charming, its most charged moments quickening the pulse to the equivalent of a brisk walk rather than a breathless sprint. The tremendously beautiful location photography serves to lavish the audience in pure eye candy when the plot strings wear a little thin. Only a craftsman of Hitchcock's stature could construct a movie so absorbing and stylish without much in the way of substance backing it all up. To Catch a Thief delivers tremendous watchability; it's faultlessly constructed, nicely acted, and delightfully intoxicating from beginning to end.
The setting is a post-war French Riviera. Women's jewels are disappearing at an alarming rate, the thief -- or thieves -- working with cat-like quietness, efficiency, and speed. The local periodical suggests that high on the suspect list is one John Robie (Cary Grant), a pre-war thief held in the highest of regard in his circle and the lowest of respect by the law. His image changed a bit thanks to his efforts during the war; he fought diligently in the underground resistance, claiming as many as 72 occupiers dead at his hands. Yet his wartime heroics won't afford him free reign to thieve as he pleases. The local authorities pay him a visit and request his company for further questioning in Nice, but a well-timed shotgun blast affords Robie the opportunity to slip away. He seeks refuge with his old war buddy Bertani (Charles Vanel), a restaurateur whose place is raided soon after Robie's arrival. Robie again gives the authorities the slip, this time with the help of the charming young French girl Danielle (Brigitte Auber), Robie's former lover and daughter of another of Robie's old acquaintances, Foussard (Jean Martinelli).
Robie concludes that he has no choice but to do the work of the police himself and identify the thief, using his skills as an expert cat burglar to catch the thief in the act. To do so, he seeks the help of a local insurance agent by the name of H. H. Hughson (John Williams). He provides Robie with a list of several of his clients around the French Riviera who possess any high-dollar jewelry worth the risk of thievery. Atop that list are the names of a mother-daughter duo, the elder Jessie Stevens (Jessie Royce Landis) and her daughter Francie (Grace Kelly). Robie, taking on an assumed identity, quickly finds himself a part of their inner circle, gaining their trust but also catching Francie's eye. As their relationship blossoms, jewel thievery continues, with Robie remaining the lead suspect but continuing his undercover work to sniff out the real culprit. Can he keep his eye on the prize and his identity masked while Francie both falls for him and figures him out?
To Catch a Thief, at its most basic level, proves somewhat transparent to be sure. In the case of the jewel-thieving intrigue, the list of suspects is short and pared further down with rapidity, to the point that most in the audience will have his or her identity pegged long before the other characters. But that doesn't matter. The overreaching plot arc is little more than excuse to build a playground in which Hitchcock indulges in a whimsical tale of budding romance and sexual innuendo set amidst a serious but rather lighthearted and relatively safe criminal affair that allows the audience to concentrate on characterization, cinematography, and landscape without the pins and needles associated with a more immediate and deadly backdrop interfering with the rest. Indeed, this is an indulgent, easygoing good time, a movie shaped by its external marvels rather than its internal complexities. It's simple and highly effective filmmaking at its peak, the movie stealing hearts as quickly and with as much efficiency as the thief steals the jewels.
In a nutshell, To Catch a Thief is best described as "escapism." The movie thrives on the chemistry of its cast and the splendor of its locales. It's a picture-perfect movie in a classic sense, a destination first and a journey second, made of finely-tuned elements assembled with great care but without the self-importance of heavier-themed movies. This is what cinema is really all about; the movie is a wide, large-in-scope getaway to another place and, now, another time, a delightful picture that captures its locations with the same efficiency with which it captures its audience's hearts. It absorbs the audience into its broadest story lines and most complex person-to-person dealings with the same care and attention to detail. The dialogue is sharp, the players are simply but thoroughly drawn, and the corresponding performances are understanding and reflective of the lighthearted nature of the entire enterprise. To Catch a Thief is the perfect cool down movie, a fine chaser, an expert relaxant after a hard day's watching of more serious and spine-tingling Hitchcockian fare.
To Catch a Thief Blu-ray, Video Quality
To Catch a Thief looks fantastic on Blu-ray, a fine high definition presentation of a masterfully-shot older film. The image yields exemplary details throughout. Skin textures are superb, and the roughness of stone and brick fašades prove magnificent. The image is crisp and thoroughly detailed from top to bottom, with even rather distant vegetation appearing sharp and individualized. Clarity is magnificent, even if a handful of shots take on a slightly softer texture. Colors are equally brilliant and stable, with splashes of extremely bright and varied colors setting the stage for two of the transfer's best moments, a confrontation in an outdoor flower shop early in the film and a lavish gala near the end. Blacks are deep, though shadow detail is sometimes lost in the darkest nighttime rooftop sequences. Grain is modest, but the image never wants for authentic textures. Aliasing is problematic at times, notably evidenced by Robie's striped shirt. Otherwise, the technical merits are pretty much above reproach. This is a handsome transfer in support of a deserving classic.
To Catch a Thief Blu-ray, Audio Quality
To Catch a Thief's Dolby TrueHD 2.0 soundtrack won't test the abilities of the sound system or the human ear's tolerances for extreme cinema sound, but this is nevertheless a pleasurable presentation that serves the movie well. Generally, music plays fully and with adequate clarity. However, the material (expectedly) never explodes from the speakers, instead sometimes playing with a slightly cramped or subdued feel. The track does create a rather convincing environment in several places. Natural ambience, such as chirping birds or gently rolling waters, adequately set the stage for several scenes. The rumbling of car and boat engines lack that absolute authenticity, but the effects are positive and contextually satisfying. Dialogue is generally firm and focused, though there are a few instances where it seems just the slightest bit shallow. Generally speaking, this is a good presentation that doesn't leave audiences wanting much more.
To Catch a Thief Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
To Catch a Thief contains numerous featurettes and an audio commentary track.
To Catch a Thief Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
To Catch a Thief might not present audiences with the most complexly-woven plot, the most dazzling plot twists, or the most daring revelations, but its strength lies in its adherence to simplicity and delicacy, weaving together a story of romance against a serious but decidedly serene and almost playful backdrop of high-dollar jewel thievery. The movie thrives on weaving together a light but enveloping tale, reinforced by strong character development, finely-tuned acting, gorgeous filming locales, and expert direction. The picture won't challenge its audience, but this is a safe, easygoing slice of classic moviemaking that's the very epitome of simple and relaxing escapism. Paramount's Blu-ray release of To Catch a Thief yields dazzling video, fine audio, and a nice array of supplements. Highly recommended.
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To Catch a Thief Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Exclusive Giveaway: To Catch a Thief - March 6, 2012
Blu-ray.com and Paramount Home Entertainment are offering three Blu-ray.com members the opportunity to win a copy of Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief, starring Cary Grant, Grace Kelly and Jessie Royce Landis. The 1955 classic arrives on March 6th.
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