I added two films to the Classic Film List yesterday, both from Hitchcock: To Catch a Thief (1955), and Rear Window (1954). Last night I watched To Catch a Thief.
The film is essentially about how to live the good life. Of course, there is that vexing question of who is stealing all that jewelry. But it is hard to get overly worked up over the thievery. One knows that Cary Grant will figure it out in the end, and one hopes that he will take his time about it, so that we can see more of him, Grace Kelly, Cannes, the villa, the cars, the sea …. well, you get the picture.
The good life oozes from Cary Grant in this film. He tells the insurance agent over lunch on the terrace that it is something he acquired. To be graceful? Perhaps. But one doubts if Grant’s slow and graceful manner can be purchased. BTW “graceful” is a word I do not hear very much these days. In our lust and exuberance, have we lost something? Dave Brooks thinks that we have.
FOLLOW - One odd aspect of the film — it seems that Cary Grant is the only person in Cannes with a deep sun tan. George Hamilton would arrive much later.
2d FOLLOW- I wonder if Grace Kelly blushed when she read the script and found out that she had to say to Cary Grant ”… I won’t pardon you. I’m in love with you.” Cary Grant gives her a quizzical look and answers “Now that’s a ridiculous thing to say.” Many years later, Ali McGraw would say in another film “Love is never having to say you’re sorry.” Ok… so …. which is it?
3rd FOLLOW - There is an irony in the film. Cary Grant’s main criticism of Grace Kelly is that she is superficial. Yet Hitchcock readily admitted that his films were intended to be superficial — to tease and reward the audience for their curiosity. So can Grant escape the medium in which he is depicted? Isn’t his sophistication just a clever illusion designed to trap the curious? So perhaps his criticism is more about skill than authenticity. Or does one become more authentic by playing the game better? And on a deeper level … is curiosity a vice? Prof. Stanley Fish shares his thoughts on the matter.
4rth FOLLOW- Back to the all important lunch scene on the terrace. It is intended to reinforce Cary Grant as a man of exquisite taste, and so of course, the meal starts with soup (though Cary does not say what type). Then the main course. Cary serves Quiche Lorraine … but get this — the insurance agent says he has “heard of it, but never tried it.” Harumph! Obviously pre Julia Child! Didn’t they have food bloggers back then?
5th FOLLOW - This link provides some interesting reviews of the film that appeared when it first came out. This quote caught my eye
… Mr. Hitchcock has used (Cote D’Azure) to form a pictorial backdrop that fairly yanks your eyes out of your head