A blog formerly known as Bookishness

By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

To Catch a Thief (Alfred Hitchcock, 1955)

Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief
John Robie: Cary Grant
Frances Stevens: Grace Kelly
Jessie Stevens: Jessie Royce Landis
H.H. Hughson: John Williams
Danielle Foussard: Brigitte Auber
Bertani: Charles Vanel
Foussard: Jean Martinelli
Germaine: Georgette Anys

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay: John Michael Hayes
Based on a novel by David Dodge
Cinematography: Robert Burks
Costume design: Edith Head

To Catch a Thief was the third film in a row for Alfred Hitchcock and Grace Kelly, and it reteamed the director with such valuable coworkers as screenwriter John Michael Hayes and cinematographer Robert Burks, not to mention Cary Grant, with whom Hitchcock hadn't worked since Notorious (1946). All the talent in the world seemed to be there. And yet is it just because it comes after such a masterwork as Rear Window (1954) that To Catch a Thief seems so lightweight and unmemorable? Preparing to watch it again for the umpteenth time, I found that I didn't remember much about the movie other than the spectacular Riviera scenery, the orgasmic fireworks scene, and Kelly in the gold lamé dress. The plot was something about a jewel thief, wasn't it, with Grant in one of the "wrong man" plights so prevalent in Hitchcock? So it was, and while it all works like a well-oiled machine, I sense a flagging of inspiration, especially in the scene in which Jessie snuffs out her cigarette in a fried egg, which is a gag Hitchcock used 15 years earlier in Rebecca.

Watched on Showtime

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