To Catch a Thief review – A beautiful film but your attention might start to wander

Cary Grant and Grace Kelly are a dream pairing, but when you add diamonds, burglary and the French Riviera into the mix, you suddenly have a hefty amount of glamour and intrigue.

To Catch a Thief, released in 1955 and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, sees Grant’s John Robie, a retired cat burglar, accused of a string of thefts against wealthy tourists. Kelly’s Frances Stevens, a tourist holidaying with her mother, quickly becomes enamoured with Robie and helps him as he vows to prove his innocence.

To Catch a Thief‘s opening lines aren’t words but a high-pitched scream. This is followed by another one. And then a third.

Shock suddenly turns into the wow factor, as the stunning backdrop of the French Riviera comes into view and we see Robie, aptly wearing a striped shirt reminiscent of a stereotypical burgular, admiring the view from his hilltop villa.

This is the third film that I’ve watched starring Grant and I completely understand why he has been recognised as one of classic Hollywood’s definitive leading men. In fact, I think he might be one of the greatest leading men of all time.

Grant’s charisma and comedic timing make John Robie a part he was born to play.

When Hitchcock makes a cameo appearance as a passenger on a bus Grant’s face is an absolute picture, and there are several funny quips from Robie, including: “Act as if you’re a pretty girl just out for a ride… Not that pretty — we want to get rid of him!”

Kelly’s Frances, on the hand, isn’t quite so charismatic.

This is the second film I have watched starring Kelly and I’m beginning to wonder whether she was continually typecast as ‘the young wealthy woman who thinks very highly of herself’?

Kelly delivers a fine enough performance and while there are some very amusing moments between her and Grant, it is undoubtedly Grant’s film with Kelly playing second fiddle to not only Grant but to her beautiful wardrobe as well.

Unfortunately, I did find my attention start to wander and following a decent amount of intrigue that had been built around ‘the Cat’, the finale does feel a bit lacklustre, but perhaps that is more from my perspective of watching it nearly 70 years on.

Visually it is a beautiful film but this is perhaps more of a Sunday afternoon film where you don’t need to watch every scene to still get the general meaning.


To Catch a Thief (1955)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: Cary Grant, Grace Kelly

“A retired jewel thief sets out to prove his innocence after being suspected of returning to his former occupation.” – IMDb

  • Won the 1956 Academy Award for Best Cinematography (Colour)

6 thoughts on “To Catch a Thief review – A beautiful film but your attention might start to wander

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  1. This is a beautiful film filled with colour, beautiful scenery, sets and the costumes. I still want the white Nd blue dress Kelly wears in the film. When you think of Hitchcock you think of psycho, Strangers On A Train and other dark films but this is one film that is not dark. It seems in stark contrast to many of his other films. I actually quite enjoy it.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Birgit. Kelly wears so many beautiful clothes! I liked her outfit when she went swimming with Grant.
      To Catch a Thief is the only Hitchcock film I’ve seen so far. I’m looking forward to watching some more.

  2. One of the few more breezy Hitchcock films — no darkness, outside of those cat-thief burglaries, need apply. Another showcase for Cary Grant and Grace Kelly (the last of her three stints with the director). As stated, a beautiful costumed thriller set in Monaco. Always fun to re-watch this one.

    1. It does feel very light and breezy, yes. I think I’d enjoy it again on any rewatches but I know now you don’t have to give it your full attention.
      Thanks for your comment, Michael!

  3. It’s a stylish film but as Hitchcock films go it falls pretty squarely into the middle of his filmography.

    This was the final time he worked with Grace Kelly (it was filmed in Monaco and while there she met Prince Rainier which of course lead to her exit from the screen) and I said it again is falls into the middle of their trio of films. Rear Window is number one (if you haven’t seen that one I’d say make a point of it-it’s a honey) and many would probably chose Dial M for Murder next but I find it stagy. This one has all those gorgeous trapping and Jessie Royce Landis as Grace’s mother, always a plus.

    I’m with you on Cary Grant being one of the very best leading men in the history of film. Almost always so at ease (the ghastly The Pride and the Passion is a notable exception) and able to have an good rapport with any screen partner. Grace Kelly’s career was so short she didn’t have a lot of opportunity to play a wide variety of roles. The Country Girl allowed her the opportunity to deglamorize and she does make an impact (she didn’t deserve Judy Garland’s Oscar for A Star is Born though). So most of her roles took advantage of her patrician bearing which did impart a great deal of class to her presence and certainly was vital to her once she became Princess Grace.

    1. Thanks for your considered comment, Joel. You make some excellent points. It is a shame that Kelly didn’t have a longer film career (or indeed a longer life) as it would have been exciting to see how her career developed and the types of roles she would have chosen.
      I’d like to see Dial M for MurderNorth by Northwest too. Psycho is currently available on one of my streaming services so I’m planning to watch it soon.

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