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Film: To Catch a Thief

If you love life, you'll love France.

To Catch a Thief is an 1955 romantic thriller, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, based on a novel by David Dodge.The protagonist is John Robie (Cary Grant) a retired jewel thief, who lives in France, since the government pardoned his crimes, because he took part in the French Resistance. However, a series of robberies happen, that closely resemble his style, and the police suspects him. Robie, with the help of insurance man Hughson (John Williams, not that one) plans to capture the burglar in the act to prove his innocence. He obtains a list of the owners of the most expensive jewels on the Riviera, who are the likely targets, from Hughson. The first names on the list are Jessie Stevens (Jessie Royce Landis) and her daughter Francie (Grace Kelly). Robie befriends them, but Francie soon sees through his disguise; however that doesn't bother her, because she thinks stealing jewels might be fun. She seduces Robie; however, when her mother's jewels are stolen, she feels betrayed, and calls the police on him. Robie escapes, he and Francie eventually clear up the misunderstanding, and capture the real thief together.

This film contains examples of:

  • Big Bad: Bertani.
  • Born in an Elevator: Francie says she was born in a taxi on the way to the hospital.
  • Classy Cat-Burglar: The real thief, Danielle Foussard, a daughter of one of Robie's Resistance colleagues.
  • Costume Porn: Pretty much every thing Francie wears. Helps that Edith Head was her costumer.
    • The costumes at the ball.
  • The Danza: Jessie Royce Landis as Jessie Stevens.
  • Deadpan Snarker: John Robie.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Francie at first appears cold and reserved, but we see that this is just an act, when she unexpectedly kisses John.
  • Diamonds in the Buff: When Francie wants to seduce John, she wears a necklace to draw his attention to her cleavage (she normally doesn't wear jewelry).
  • Double Entendre: The dialogue between John and Francie is full of these. For example:
    Francie: (sharing a chicken meal) Do you want a leg or a breast?
    John: You make the choice.
    (...)
    Francie: (before watching the fireworks) I have a feeling that tonight, you're going to see one of the Riviera's most fascinating sights... I was talking about the fireworks.
    John: I never doubted it.
  • Everything's Sparkly with Jewelry: Though Francie doesn't like wearing jewels, she once wears a diamond necklace to get John's attention (though it's actually an imitation).
  • Gentleman Thief: John Robie.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • Francie is furious at Robie who she believes stole her mother's jewels. Her mother asks her "What did he steal from you, anyway?". Robie and Francie just had sex.
    • In the DVD Commentary, they talk about how they kept cutting to the fireworks so that they could draw out the kiss longer.
  • Gold Makes Everything Shiny: Francie's Pimped-Out Dress. She also wears a golden wig with it.
  • High-Altitude Interrogation: John does it to Danielle.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: Hughson brings this up when he's talking with Robie:
    Robie: For what it's worth, I only stole from people who wouldn't go hungry...
    Hughson: I take it you were a sort of modern Robin Hood. I mean, you gave away most of the proceeds of your crimes.
    Robie: Kept everything myself.
  • Masquerade Ball: The climax is set at a ball, where people wear lavish costumes fom the era of Louis XV.
  • Not So Different: Robie tells Hughson that he's also a thief only on a smaller scale, as he takes ashtrays or towels from hotel rooms and puts free lunches on his expense account.
  • Opera Gloves: Francie wears them at the ball.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Francie wears one at the ball.
  • Reformed Criminal: John, partially. While he stopped stealing, he doesn't go after other jewel thiefs, until he's forced to.
  • Rushed Inverted Reading: After Jessie helps Robie to escape from the policemen that Francie is bringing to her room, she grabs a book and pretends she has been reading it while Robie is alleged to have been in her room. As Robie escapes across the rooftops, we hear Francie say "Mother, the book you're reading is upside-down!"
  • Same Language Dub: Apparently Charles Vanel, who played Bertani the restaraunt owner and the bad guy, didn't speak a word of English. Hitchcock tries, somewhat unsubtly, to cover for this by covering his mouth when he talks in some scenes and focusing on the camera on the other characters in others, but when he speaks actual French the dialogue just seems to 'fit' better than when he speaks English, which is for most of the film.
  • Save the Villain: Though not completely until they give a full confession.
  • Scenery Porn: The French Riviera. Hitch was known for throwing in gratuitous scenery shots for no other reason than visual pleasure, but he goes overboard here (of course this is the French Riviera we're talking about).
  • Sealed with a Kiss: It looks like the film will end like this... then they stop, and Francie says: "So this is where you live. Oh, Mother will love it up here!" Cut to John's horrified expression.
  • Sexophone: In the scene where everyone is going back to their rooms and Francie kisses John.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Oh, those fireworks ...
    • Also, the gambling chip falling into the prominent cleavage. It happens off-camera, but the camerawork makes it obvious.
  • Shout-Out: Danielle's boat is named Maquis Mouse, a nod to the Resistance for which her father and Robie fought, as well as Mickey Mouse.
  • Show Some Leg: Robie is escaping from the police in a speedboat, driven by Danielle. When a police plane appears looking for him, he hides below, and instructs her to wave to the plane "as if you're a pretty girl out for a ride". She pulls up her skirt to show her knees and waves. Robie says: "Not that pretty. We want to get rid of him."
  • Something Else Also Rises: The movie shows John and Francie kissing, then cuts to fireworks.
  • Take That: Of sorts; in one scene, Jessie extinguishes her cigarette in the yolk of a fried egg. Hitchcock found eggs revolting.

Secret SixCriminal ProceduralCatch That Kid
Rear WindowFilms By Alfred HitchcockThe Trouble with Harry
TitanicCreator/ParamountTop Gun
This Island EarthFilms of the 1950sThe Trouble with Harry

alternative title(s): To Catch A Thief
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