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Friday, 9 August 2013

Classic Film Review: To Catch a Thief (1955)

To Catch a Thief stars Cary Grant as ex-cat burglar John Robie. When a new spate of burglaries occur on the Riviera, Robie is instantly suspected and, mindful that the police won't give him a fair hearing, he escapes from them and sets about proving his own innocence with the help of insurance agent H.H Hughson (John Williams). He identifies mother and daughter Jessie (Jessie Royce Landis) and Frances Stevens (Grace Kelly) as potential victims and latches on to them but Frances is wise to his deception and doesn't trust him an inch.

I'm afraid that the editing and dubbing on this film was one of the worst I've seen, especially in such an otherwise excellent film. It really put me off, particularly the use of a non-English speaking actor, Charles Vanel, as important character Bertani. Rather than getting immersed in the story I found myself thinking how bad the dubbing was and that's not to mention the pasting together of shots, most noticeably during the rooftop chase, that pulled me back from the story.

The actual plot is excellent and Cary Grant is at his best as the reformed cat-burglar. He and Grace Kelly work well together as friendly adversaries, though I have to say that my favourite scenes came with Grant interacting with Jessie Royce Landis as Jessie Stevens. The characters interacted so beautifully, particularly in the bedroom scene where she lets him escape. Equally, John Williams as the upright insurance agent is a pleasure to watch.

The scenery in this film is amazing and it's worth watching for that alone. Awe-inspiring and utilised as a good backdrop to the main story, it's stunningly shot. Also, the costume ball section of the film is luscious, filled with vibrant costumes and wonderfully directed by Hitchcock.

All in all, this would have been an incredible film, if not for the atrocious dubbing and occasionally off-putting editing. Nevertheless, it remains an excellent one with Grant at his charming and debonair best.

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