mercredi 30 janvier 2008

A night for a classic

On a cold freezing night, one hardly has the need to brave the cold or the crowds just to catch the latest Hollywood blockbuster showing in the theaters. It was in such frame of mind that we found ourselves before our screens with To Catch a Thief. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Gary Grant and Grace Kelley, it was first released in 1955. The plot is simple. A string of jewel heists are taking place all over the rich homes of the French Riviera and the heists have all the hallmarks of the notorious jewel thief John “the Cat” Robie. There’s just one catch. He’s been retired for 15 years. Of course the new thefts stir up all manner of trouble for him as the police and all his old comrades in arms are convinced that he has once again taken to the roofs. In order to prove his innocence he must catch the new Cat at work. Towards this end he sets out to befriend potential mark Mrs Jessie Stevens and her headstrong daughter Francie. But he doesn’t reckon on Francie finding out his real identity nor her wit and he finds himself falling for her.
It is a lighthearted burglar story through the French Riviera with Grant and Kelly effortlessly and wittily bantering back and forth with the kind of dialogue rarely written now. While much has been made of the charms of both Grant and Kelly (and admittedly they had it in spades), there is a third star in this movie and it’s the French Riviera. The dazzling coast with its sparkling turquoise waters, pretty villas and vibrant flower markets more than hold their own against the human “co-stars”. It is amazing to see the golden light that bathes every scene. Granted that all this light might well be Technicolor technology but I find that this particular light is no longer present in today’s romantic comedies. I suppose that this reflects the golden way of living of those times.
What is really nice about this movie is that it remains undated and fresh. Despite its initial release being over fifty years ago, it remains watchable today. Its theme, likable characters and most importantly beautiful cinematography allows the jaded viewers of today to relate to it and enjoy.

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