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To Catch A Thief

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The wife and I sat down to watch To Catch A Thief this evening. Released in 1955, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and starred Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. I’ve never seen it before and the wife has watched a remake. I enjoyed it.

Warning! Spoilers ahead.

Being a Hitchcock film you’d expect a tense, psychological thriller. Not so this movie. I’d classify it more of a cozy mystery. Grant plays John Robie, a very successful and retired cat burglar who lives the good life on the French Riviera. It seems that there have been a number of recent cat burglaries, fitting the style of capers that Robie used to do. Of course, he’s on the straight and narrow now and didn’t perform the burglaries.

Robie was caught earlier in his career, and did time in prison. Most of the people he knows in the area are former prisoners, and they all believe he did the crimes, and don’t appreciate all the attention the police are paying attention to them. One of Robie’s first stops is at a local restaurant, run by Bertani, who employs many of the ex-cons on his staff.

Robie decides the only way to clear his name is to catch the real thief. He gets a list of potential targets the thief might hit from Hughson, and insurance investigator whose company insures most of the jewelry that would be stolen.

On that list is Jessie Stevens (Jessie Royce Landis) and her daughter Frances (Grace Kelly), visiting from America. Robie and Frances strike up an adversarial romance, as she knows he is a cat burglar of renown.

There is no gunplay, some mild chases, and plenty of interaction between Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. Grant is his usual debonair self and Kelly is a striking beauty that commands attention. There isn’t any of the usual suspense associated with Hitchcock’s films, other than the mystery of who the real cat burglar committing the crimes is.

Robie waits on the roof of the Sanford Villa where a lavish costume party is held. He knows the real culprit will show up to steal from among the ample amount of jewelry at the party. His patience is rewarded as he comes across the real thief committing the burglaries, and after a struggle, revels the identity of the bad guy. It turns out that the real culprit is the daughter of one of Robie’s acquaintances from prison, who knew Robie’s methods and tastes. As she dangles from the edge of the roof, being held up by Robie, she admits to the burglaries and names Bertani the restaurant owner as the mastermind behind the whole thing.

As I said, there isn’t much suspense but there is plenty to enjoy in the ride along the way. The exchanges between Grant and Kelly are engaging and the chemistry between the two is palpable.

Side note: Cary Grant announced his retirement from acting in 1953. He came out of retirement just to make this film and ended up acting for 11 more years before stopping again.

If you want a sweet, engaging cozy mystery, you might want to track this one down on streaming or DVD / Blu-ray. I think you’ll enjoy it.

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