I suppose for those who are not Alfred Hitchcock aficionados the version of The Man Who Knew Too Much they know is the one with James Stewart and Doris Day. That’s a fine film in its own right, but most people don’t realize it is a remake of a film from 1934. Both films were directed by Hitchock making him one of the few directors to ever remake themselves.
The earlier film was from the director’s British period and stars Peter Lorre in his first English language movie. It is an excellent film and a few years ago Criterion gave it a humdinger of a Blu-ray release. I reviewed it for Cinema Sentries and you can read that review here.
Alfred Hitchcock is one of my favorite directors. It was my absolute pleasure to watch and reviews Stage Fright (1950) one of his lesser-known films for Cinema Sentries. You can read that review here.
Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 film To Catch a Thief is a light, fluffy picture that differs in content from much of the suspense masters’ other pictures. Cary Grant stars as a former thief, and patriot of the French Resistance, who is currently suspected of a new series of crimes. Grace Kelly plays the beautiful daughter of a rich American woman who is high on the list of possible victims of the new cat burglar.
The plot is all cotton candy. Shot in the French Riviera, Hitchcock allows his camera to take all of the beauty in. There are lots of lovely traveling shots of the location. Hitchcock follows cars driving the streets in high crane shots, simmers through the sea on a boat ride, and stops to take in the view of Cary Grant and Grace Kelly at a picnic overlooking a stunning valley.
Cary Grant is playing Cary Grant at this point, but that’s perfectly fine since there are few actors I enjoy more. Grace Kelly is simply gorgeous. Hitchcock’s camera is as admiring as a new suitor. Their interplay is fun, witty, and sensuous. A famous scene between them intercuts their developing romance with fireworks and is pure sizzle.
If you are looking to write a thesis on the genius of suspense then you should look elsewhere. But for a beautifully shot, light-hearted romance for a Saturday night, it would be difficult to find a better picture.