Thursday, 26 December 2013

To Catch a Thief

1955 - Dir.: Alfred Hitchcock - 1 hr 46 mins
Shown at The FeckenOdeon on 28th December, 2013

Alfred Hitchcock devised this witty romantic mystery to team his blonde obsession at the time, Grace Kelly, with his old favourite, Cary Grant. This box-office hit follows a retired jewel thief's attempts to catch a copycat criminal. Grant and Kelly are on sparkling form, as is Jessie Royce Landis as the latter's formidable mother, and the French Riviera is beautifully captured by the Oscar-winning cinematography of Robert Burks.

It’s a good thing the sheer force of star power carries the film, because the plot only works if you don’t think about it. Even if you think just a little, you realize that there about a thousand ways for Cary Grant to accomplish his goal that are easier and safer, but then he would not have had to spend 100 spellbinding minutes juggling the attentions of Grace Kelly and Brigitte Auber.

The only thing that really doesn’t work in this film is the character Bertani, played by french actor Charles Vanel. He spoke no English at all and the English dubbing in his scenes is not just bad, but embarrassingly bad. It probably would have been much more effective to have Vanel learn his lines phonetically, like Bela Lugosi did for Dracula.

But that can’t detract too much from the gorgeous scenery, Oscar-winning cinematography and the pure unadulterated pleasure of watching Cary Grant and Grace Kelly remind us what it once meant to be real movie stars.


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