Golden Oldies On the Big Screen Golden Oldies On the Big Screen




For, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016

Alfred Hitchcock was, of course, The Master of Suspense. But he was also, at heart, a sentimental romantic. Check out the sexual tension and unabashed falling in love between characters in such films as “Notorious,” “Vertigo,” “North By Northwest” … and especially "To Catch a Thief" (1955).

Of all of his many movies, “To Catch a Thief is hands-down Hitchcock’s most romantic effort, with emphasis on character, although there are some suspenseful moments.

And it’s also one of his most beautifully photographed films, winning an Oscar for cinematography, which is stunning in sequences set against the lush backdrop of the French Riviera, where much of it was filmed on location.


        Grace Kelly, Cary Grant, 'To Catch a Thief'

Cary Grant stars as a retired cat burglar — he has even earned the nickname “The Cat” — who discovers he is being framed for jewel thefts at ritzy hotels along the Riviera. So he sets out to solve the crime himself.

Along the way he becomes entangled with an elegant heiress (Grace Kelly), at first seemingly demure — but with a wild side, reveled as she begins playing, um, cat and mouse with Grant.

Grant and Kelly are a great team with crackling chemistry, and Hitch makes the most of it. There’s some spark between Kelly and James Stewart in Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” (1954), but less between Kelly and Robert Cummings in the stagey thriller “Dial M For Murder” (1954).

But with “To Catch a Thief,” Hitchcock’s last of his three films with Kelly, she and Grant fairly burn up the screen, and it doesn’t matter a whit that she’s 25 years his junior.

The film is also rich with crackerjack dialogue, and the stars are ably backed up by Hitchcock regulars Jessie Royce Landis, as Kelly’s mother (she played Grant’s mother in “North By Northwest”), and John Williams (the actor not the composer) as an insurance agent (he played the Scotland Yard detective that tries to help Kelly in “Dial M for Murder”).

And Hitchcock’s cameo comes about 10 minutes in, and is one of the director’s more obvious and lingering appearances. It’s also quite funny.

Cary Grant spies someone familiar in 'To Catch a Thief.'

This was Hitchcock’s first film in VistaVision, a widescreen process created for Paramount Pictures to compete with 20th Century Fox’s popular CinemaScope process. Both were designed to make the movie experience bigger and more expansive in light of the enormous and growing popularity of that newfangled invention known as television, which was keeping moviegoers home.

To say that Hitch made the most of his first widescreen endeavor is to understate. The locales, and the stars, never looked better.

And you can see it on the big screen at many local Cinemark Theaters on Sunday, Feb. 7, at 2 p.m., and Wednesday, Feb. 10, at 2 and 7 p.m