Wednesday, November 23, 2016

To Catch a Thief (1955)

Reformed cat burglar John Robie (Cary Grant) is under suspicion when jewels go missing in a manner identical to his old M.O. Rather than cooperate with the police and provide an alibi, like a crazy person, he goes on the lam and tries to expose the real burglar. He convinces an insurance agent (John Williams) to hand over private details of clients with insured valuable jewels, you know, for research. Sign me up for that insurance company.

The real mystery here is, is Robie the Robber, and if not, who is? It could be just about nobody. Back story: Robie was convicted, served in the French underground during the war, and became a hero. He doesn’t want new allegations to besmirch his name and risk his lucrative career of living in a luxurious villa on the French Riviera and doing nothing. His first victim … I mean, research participant is a his mom from North by Northwest and her hot hot hot hot way-too-young-for-him daughter (Grace Kelly). Guess which one he falls in love with.

John Williams (no relationship to John Williams) was an interesting man. Basically he played only formal British types, but he did it well. He didn’t appear an huge number of films (27 not including TV, uncredited, and shorts) but they included Dial M for Murder (1954), Witness for the Prosecution (1957), Sabrina (1954), and this, just to name a few. A favorite of Hitchcock, he also did ten episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Grant had decided to retire, annoyed by the growing popularity of method acting. He was lured back to play the elderly love interest to Kelly, who had a reputation of having a reputation. He would continue to play the dashing young man well into his 60's. Grace would film on a stretch of road she would die on twenty eight years later. So it goes.

A teensy bit sloppy by Hitchcock standards. There is a scene early on between Grant and a French man who was clearly not saying anything actually heard by audience. More than simply taking me out of the story, I found it klunky and confusing. Thankfully he didn’t prove to be a major character. Overall it was a good, if not up to its reputation. AMRU 3.5.
“A child? Shall we stand in shallower water and discuss that?”

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