Lisa at Boondock Ramblings and I have started recommending classic movies to each other this summer, and this go round she recommended To Catch a Thief for us to watch. I had just suggested two very heavy movies in a row to her (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, A Streetcar Named Desire) so I lightened it up with Elvis and Blue Hawaii for her. You can read her review here!
If you are unfamiliar with this film the basic premise is that a former jewel thief, John Robie “The Cat”(Cary Grant) has to defend his reformed reputation and innocence when a cat burglar begins stealing from the rich tourists in the French Riviera, and everyone assumes he has returned to his old ways. Francie (Grace Kelly) is a wealthy American woman who is clever and bold and much more different than one would think under her icy blonde exterior.
So far, this movie is my favorite of Lisa’s picks for me. I absolutely loved every bit of it. I am an absolute sucker for cinematography and this movie is gorgeous. The water, the villas, the street scenes, the composition of scenes – it is easy to see why cinematographer Robert Burks won an Oscar for this film. So many scenes took my breath away with sometimes just their simple beauty! There is a scene where John and Francie are in her rooms, watching the fireworks and verbally sparring, with Francie goading John into revealing to her that she has figured out who he really is. The lighting, the shadows and use of shadow, the colors, the costumes, the placement of where the actors stand and sit is perfect.
I also loved how Grace Kelly’s character in this movie had hidden depths. On the surface she looks like an ice princess, with her blonde gorgeousness, her seeming aloofness – and then she slowly reveals that underneath that demeanor she is a little bit of a thrill seeker, that she is more hot-blooded than cold, and she is bold and goes after what she wants. She pursues Robie with single minded purpose, and pulls out all the stops including a chase scene along the coastal road which ends in a picnic with chicken and beer. She had her own version of “catching” a thief, it seems.
“The Cat” may not be immune to Francie’s charms but remains undeterred in his pursuit of the imposter thief. He follows his instincts, and lands on his feet after a dramatic rooftop scene where Robie confronts the thief amidst a hail of bullets. Because it can’t be too easy, right?
I just want to say that Jessie Royce Landis, who portrays Kelly’s mom Jessie Stevens, is also brilliant in this movie. I loved her sort of rough beginnings, her lack of regard for her own wealth, her taste for bourbon, and how she seemed to just embrace life despite missing her late husband Jeremiah. Her character was a lot of fun to watch in every one of her scenes.
Overall, I completely loved this movie, the charm and the beauty, the easiness that Kelly and Grant seem to have with one another. The surprises that made me turn to Billy with wide eyes, laughing, like when Kelly lays one on Grant soon after meeting him, totally breaking that ice princess facade. I can’t believe it has taken me this long to watch it!
We have chosen our movies for next time! For Lisa, I picked The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, at my mom’s suggestion. And Lisa, with her husband’s input, has picked His Gal Friday for me. Feel free to watch with us and chime in with your impressions next time!