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To Catch A Thief (1955)

Paramount

Cast: Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Jessie Royce Landis, John Williams.

Rating: G.

Run time: 106 mins

Genre: A romantic crime caper!

Verdict: Beautiful (see rating system)

A reluctant Cary Grant was persuaded out of premature early retirement to make this light crime caper by famed director Alfred Hitchcock, who promised him a sunny location shoot in the south of France and Monaco with the gorgeous Grace Kelly co-starring.

The movie is a delight, with Grant slipping comfortably into the suave playboy personna he would mine in subsequent films like North by Northwest and Charade. And Kelly - shortly before her marriage to Monaco's Prince Rainier - never looked more stunning.

Stunning is also the word for the look of the picture, which won the Oscar for "Best Color Cinematography", with picture-postcard views of the exotic locations. The film's success was enough to persuade Grant to resume his career for another 11 years.

Grant plays retired jewel thief John Robie once known as "The Cat" for his daring rooftop breakins. But after serving in the French Resistance during the Second World War to atone for his crimes, Robie has settled down to a quiet life on the French Riviera. Quiet that is until until a new outbreak of daring jewel robberies has police pointing the finger at Robie.

Determined to prove his innocence, Robie goes on the run to find out who is immitating his old methods. Pampered rich girl Frances (Kelly) proves a handsome distraction, at first believing him guilty then teaming to help Robie catch the new "Cat".

Hitchcock keeps the tone light, skilfully blending romance, drama and a crime story into a very agreeable concoction. There's lot's of suggestive dialogue between Kelly and Grant - for example when she asks him whether he prefers "leg or breast?" at a quiet picnic, or when she turns down the lights in her suite and says, " I have a feeling that tonight you're going to see one of the Riviera's most fascinating sights" . . . then pauses as he gazes at her to add "I was talking about the fireworks!"

Kelly also gives Grant one of the hottest kisses seen on screen - no wonder rumours persist Hitchcock was obsessed by her.

Paramount's Special Collector's Edition, released in 2007, is a beauty, starting with a terrific picture and sound remastering. There are also three featurettes on the making of the movie plus a fourth on iconic movie costume designer Edith Head.

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