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4.6 out of 5 stars
194
4.6 out of 5 stars
Format: Blu-ray|Change
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DVD review, not the Blu-ray. If I was buying now I'd choose the Blue-ray version instead for its improved picture quality but otherwise the same content.

In this classic crime caper enhanced by sparkling humour and witty dialogue, Cary Grant plays a former cat burglar now comfortably well into retirement, known by all to be going straight and a pillar of the community. His modus operandi is suddenly resurrected and visiting heiress Grace Kelly is drawn into the plot as he reluctantly tries to clear his reputation and name. Hitchcock builds the suspense well, and even though we are totally familiar with the film it still has the same effect as the first time we watched it many, many years ago.

The film takes us into that sunny almost carefree South of France in the early 1950s, before it was about to be 'discovered' again and over-commercialised like it is now, to a time when everyone seemed to know each other and there was still the happy aura of victory left over from the end of the second war. It is quite escapist in many ways, especially when conjuring up memories of times that will never be recaptured again.

My 2003 released DVD has moderate film quality in 1.85:1 wide-screen on the 16:9 format; the colours can vary some of the time and occasionally there is also a bit of hop and weave and noise, but most of the time the story takes over and we just don't notice any flaws in the technical quality. The sound is Mono, but mostly very clean and clear. Our DVD bought in 2004 still plays perfectly, and we enjoyed it again this afternoon.

The Az blurb is to the point, and the extras are as described and well worth viewing.
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on 2 June 2017
To Catch A Thief is pretty damn entertaining in it's first hour. Following Cary Grant and Grace Kelly around the scenic vistas of France is damn fun and I thought I'd be in for another classic in the vein of North By Northwest or Foreign Correspondent, but it really falls off a cliff after the first hour. The killer reveal is an anti-climax and there just isn't nearly as much as suspense as Hitchcock is usually capable of. About the most suspense we get here is waiting for Cary and Grace to finally interact, and when they do, it's fantastic. Still, this isn't a bad way to spend a couple hours and the scenery looks pretty tremendous on blu-ray.
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*** THIS REVIEW IS FOR THE 2012 BLU RAY REISSUE ***

When 1955's "To Catch A Thief" was relaunched on DVD back in 2007 with a full frame-by-frame Lowry Digital Restoration (the company is now known as Reliance MediaWorks) - fans of the film were quietly blown away by the work done on the print. Like "North By Northwest" (that other great Hitchcock/Grant collaboration cleaned up by the same much-praised process) - "Catch" looked stupendous - beautifully clean vibrant colour - and it came with a nice slew of new complimentary extras.

This 2012 BLU RAY reissue of it is no different - a truly gorgeous looking film finally given the format it deserves. In fact there are moments in this transfer that must surely rate as BLU RAY 'restoration benchmarks' - the clean up seeing Robert Burks' original colour cinematography shine like a diamond. Burks and his team (who had framed "Rear Window" for Hitch the year before) pulled an Oscar for their work on "To Catch A Thief" - and would go on to provide Hitchcock with the same filmic magic on "Vertigo" (1958), "North By Northwest" (1959), "The Birds" (1963) and "Marnie" (1964).

"To Catch A Thief" is presently an American issue on BLU RAY (Paramount 14637) but it's due in the UK in July 2012. If you can't wait and want the US version - the good news is that it's NOT REGION-CODED so it'll play in all players. It comes in a card wrap sleeve (which the British issue won't) and features a full compliment of extras including a few new bits over the 2007 DVD issue (see list below).

The film itself is the stuff of legend - a testament to clever scriptwriting, Director grit, meticulous planning and sheer leading man and woman starpower. Battling censorship groups and prudish bosses - Hitch used his brilliant scriptwriter JOHN MICHAEL HAYES to adapt David Dodge's book and construct a screenplay positively bristling with salacious suggestion. For this he needed sex - or more accurately - implied sex. So we get lines like "What you need is two weeks with a good man in Niagara Falls..." (a famous Honeymoon destination of the time where newlyweds rarely left their chalets) or Grace Kelly offering Cary Grant some chicken from the picnic basket "You want a leg of a breast?" Cary smirks and gives the perfect double-entendre reply. "You make the choice..."

Even something as innocuous to us now as sunbathing on a sandy beach was fraught with moral degradation then. The powers-that-be feared bikinis - so Hitch had Grace wear a full bathing suit to get around their protestations. BUT when he came to shoot the scene, she sexily rubs in suntan oil into her elegant bare arms. You don't notice her passion-killer swimsuit much after that. Or even when they eventually kiss in the darkened bedroom towards the end - it cuts to fireworks in the background to suggest explosions of a more human kind. And yet precisely because both the writer and Hitch had to be so devious - the film is so much better for it. "To Catch A Thief" may be considered by some to be lightweight Hitchcock - but it's bloody entertaining fluff and was hugely racy for its time. Alfred Hitchcock knew that suggestion was more potent than showing - and his audience had a far more active imagination that any Committee of Impeccable Moral Turpitude.

Hitchcock also loved his leading ladies - and few came more gobsmacking than Grace Kelly. Beautiful, sophisticated and (like her name) graceful in every way - she was the very epitome of Golden-Girl Fifties chic. What most hadn't expected however was that underneath all the glacial glamour lurked an out-an-out sexpot (she apparently devoured men in real life and of course married an actual Prince a year later). So combined with the legendary Hollywood costumer Edith Head - and the loaded lines - you got the gorgeous Grace Kelly both looking and sounding ravishing.

Then of course came Hitchcock's other weapon of choice - the debonair Cary Grant. Cary plays John Robie - a retired jewel thief and burglar of 15-years affectionately known as "The Cat" because of his acts of agility when making house withdrawals. Someone who knows his methods starts robbing jewels from rich ladies elsewhere - and it isn't long before the finger of blame comes calling to Robie in his French retirement home in the hills. Robie must go to Cannes (where the robberies are) - and confront some of his old 'Resistance' mates (even if some of them want him dead) - a thief sent 'to catch a thief'. And on the story goes...

Grant was 50 in 1954 and almost in semi-retirement - feeling that his public no longer wanted him - while Kelly (who was just 25) had worked with Hitchcock on "Dial M For Murder" and "Rear Window" in the previous year and become Hitch's new go-to girl. Hitch was keen to ally this rising female star with a suitable male match and game material that would enhance both - and after a persuasive dinner - he got Cary on board. And it worked a treat. Despite his advanced years and her youth - they seemed like Tracy and Hepburn - Bogey and Bacall - a completely believable couple. The film was a huge hit with the public (and still is) - largely due to the great script and their explosive onscreen chemistry...

Jessie Royce Landis provided much of the comedy as the meddling mother and the gamine French actress Brigitte Auber played the other possible love interest - the young wilful Danielle with a soft spot for the suave John Robie. Solid dependable accomplice was played by John Williams - a Lloyds of London Insurance agent willing to give Robie what information he needs - if it means he can get his clients stolen jewels back. And all of it leads to a rooftop finale in the dark with a clever twist in its rather elegant tail...

BLU RAY highlights include the market and flowers sequence - Kelly walking through the Hotel corridors in knockout off the shoulder dresses - Grant in the water by the pontoon - Robie trying to explain his innocence to the Chief of Police (Charles Varnell couldn't speak good English so you will notice that his entire performance is overdubbed) - and many more. Even the opening sequence that focuses on the window of a travel agent is gorgeous.

To sum up - if you're a fan and your soft machine flutters at the thought of "To Catch A Thief" and its delicious naughtiness - then you must own it on BLU RAY.

As Elin said on the 18th fairway to her faithful husband - is that a Redwood in your trousers Tiger - or are you just pleased to see me. Oh stop it...

BLU RAY Specifications:
PICTURE: 1080p High Definition (Full Frame)
AUDIO: English 2.0 Stereo Dolby TrueHD, English Mono Dolby TrueHD, French Mono Dolby Digital, Spanish Mono Dolby Digital, Portuguese Mono Dolby Digital
SUBTITLES: English, English SDH (Deaf And Hard Of Hearing), French, Spanish and Portuguese

EXTRAS:
1. Feature-Length Commentary by Dr. Drew Casper - Hitchcock Film Historian
2. A Night With The Hitchcocks (Drew Casper introduces Patricia Hitchcock (his daughter) and her daughter Mary Stone to an audience of film students in Nov 2008 to discuss their father and grandfather's movies) (23 minutes) ** NEW **
3. Unacceptable Under The Code: Film Censorship in Hollywood (discusses how movies were made in such repressive times - 12 minutes) **NEW**
4. Writing And Casting To Catch A Thief (9 minutes)
5. The Making of To Catch A Thief
6. Behind The Gates: Cary Grant and Grace Kelly (6 minutes)
7. Alfred Hitchcock and To Catch A Thief: An Appreciation (Home movies of Hitch and family - 7:30 minutes)
8. Edith Head: The Paramount Years (14 minutes on the legendary costumer)
9. If You Love To Catch A Thief - You'll Love This Interactive Travelogue (a map of Southern France allows you to pick out the villas and locations used in the film)
10. Theatrical Trailer
11. Galleries

PS: Hitchcock's "The Birds" is due later in 2012 - fully restored - and part of Universal's "100th Anniversary" celebrations - see my review for "To Kill A Mockingbird"

PPS: for other superb BLU RAY reissues (including full restorations) - see also my reviews for:
"The Italian Job", "Saturday Night, Sunday Morning", "The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner", "North By Northwest", "Cool Hand Luke", "The Dambusters", "The Prisoner - The Complete (UK TV) Series In High Definition", "Braveheart", "Snatch", "The Ladykillers", "The African Queen", "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang", "Back To The Future Trilogy", "Brief Encounter", "The Blues Brothers", "All Quiet On The Western Front", "To Kill A Mockingbird" and "Kelly's Heroes"
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on 22 April 2017
I've seen this many times but never in such breathtaking quality, for me then the blu-ray is worth every penny for the step up in picture quality.
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on 8 March 2017
Wonderful, a pleasure to see countless times, the best Hitchcock ever, the best performances by the leading actors!!! Excellent seller.
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on 12 April 2017
Wonderful movie, great quality - what more cab you say about such a film -
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on 8 June 2017
You only have to watch the scene in the market or the climactic roof chase to see how much respect has been given to this blu-ray. Sound and picture are faultless and worth being in anyone's collection.
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on 5 June 2017
Great product excellent price many thanks Brian
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on 15 April 2017
Great.drama good film buy again in near future
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on 15 April 2017
great hitchcock movie.
quick delivery
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