To Catch a Thief

Last updated
To Catch a Thief
To Catch a Thief.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay by John Michael Hayes
Based on To Catch a Thief
by David Dodge
Produced byAlfred Hitchcock
Cinematography Robert Burks
Edited by George Tomasini
Music by Lyn Murray
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
  • August 3, 1955 (1955-08-03)(Los Angeles) [1]
Running time
106 minutes
CountryUnited States
  • English
  • French
Budget$2.5 million
Box office$4.5 million (U.S. rentals) [2]
$8.75 million

To Catch a Thief is a 1955 American romantic thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, from a screenplay by John Michael Hayes based on the 1952 novel of the same name by David Dodge. [3] The film stars Cary Grant as a retired cat burglar who has to save his reformed reputation by catching an impostor preying on wealthy tourists (including an oil-rich widow and her daughter played by Grace Kelly) on the French Riviera.



Trailer for To Catch a Thief

Retired jewel thief John "The Cat" Robie is suspected by the police in a string of burglaries on the French Riviera. When they come to his hilltop villa to question him, he slips their grasp and heads to a restaurant owned by his friend Bertani. The restaurant's staff are members of Robie's old gang, who have been paroled for their work in the French Resistance during World War II. They are angry at Robie because they are all under suspicion as long as the new Cat is active. When the police arrive at the restaurant looking for Robie, Danielle, the daughter of the restaurant's wine steward Foussard, spirits him to safety; she is a young woman who fancies him dearly.

Robie realizes he can prove his innocence by catching the new Cat in the act. He enlists the aid of an insurance man, H. H. Hughson, who reluctantly discloses a list of persons currently on the Riviera who own the most expensive jewelry. The American tourists Jessie Stevens, a wealthy nouveau-riche widow, and her daughter Frances top the list. Robie strikes up a friendship with them. Frances feigns modesty at first, but kisses Robie at the end of the night as she retires to her room.

The day after, Frances invites Robie to a swim at the beach, where Robie runs into Danielle. He keeps up his cover of being a wealthy American tourist, despite Danielle's jealous barbs about his interest in Frances. Frances accompanies Robie to a villa, where Robie suspects the new Cat might break in. Frances reveals that she knows Robie's real identity. He initially denies it, but concedes it that evening when she has invited him to her room to watch a fireworks display. They kiss passionately.

The next morning, Jessie discovers her jewels are gone. Frances accuses Robie of using her as a distraction so he could steal her mother's jewelry. The police are called, but by the time they reach Jessie's room Robie has disappeared.

Later Robie, while staking out an estate at night trying to catch the thief, is attacked by an unknown assailant. A second attacker raises a wrench and tries to kill Robie but accidentally instead hits the first assailant, who falls off the estate's seawall into the water. When the police reach the body in the water it turns out to be Foussard.

The police chief announces to the press that Foussard was the jewel thief, but, as Robie points out privately in the chief's office with Hughson present, this would have been impossible because Foussard had a wooden leg and could not climb on rooftops.

Foussard's funeral is interrupted by Danielle's loud accusation that Robie is responsible for her father's death. Outside the graveyard, Frances apologizes to Robie and confesses her love. Robie asks Frances to arrange his attendance at a fancy masquerade ball, where he believes the Cat will strike again.

Robie accompanies Frances to the ball dressed as a masked Moor. The police hover nearby. When Jessie addresses the Moor as "John" and asks him to go and get her "heart pills", the authorities are tipped off as to his identity. Upon the masked Moor's return, the police wait as he and Frances dance together all night. When the masked Moor accompanies Frances to her room, he removes the mask and turns out to be Hughson, who switched places with Robie to conceal the latter's exit. Upstairs, the cat burglar silently cleans out several jewel boxes.

Robie lurks on the rooftop, and his patience is finally rewarded when he spots a figure in black whom he recognizes as Danielle, Foussard's daughter. The police throw a spotlight on him and demand that he halt, giving Danielle the chance to slip away. Robie flees as they shoot at him and manages to corner his foe with jewels in hand. She loses her footing on the roof and starts to fall, but Robie grabs her hand at the last second. While she hangs in his grasp, he forces her to confess to the police and admit that Bertani was behind the thefts.

Robie speeds back to his villa. Frances follows to convince him that she has a place in his life. He agrees but looks less than thrilled when she says, "Mother will love it up here."


Kelly as Frances Stevens To Catch a Thief1.jpg
Kelly as Frances Stevens

Cast notes


To Catch a Thief was the director's first film (of five) made using the VistaVision widescreen process, [4] and the last of the three Hitchcock films with Grace Kelly. The film was the penultimate collaboration with Cary Grant; only North by Northwest (1959) followed. It is also about a man with a mistaken identity who goes on a breakneck adventure to prove his innocence.

The costumes were by Edith Head, including Kelly's memorable gold lamé gown for the film's costume ball.

The car driven by Grace Kelly was a metallic blue 1953 Sunbeam Alpine Mk I.


To Catch a Thief was filmed largely in the Paramount Studios, Hollywood, California, and on location in the Alpes-Maritimes of southeastern France, on the Mediterranean coast. It included the resorts of Cannes, Nice, Villefranche-sur-Mer and Saint-Jeannet. [5]

Crucial to the film's success in shooting on location was the presence of unit production manager C.O. "Doc" Erickson. He had developed a reputation for his work on prior Paramount films that had relied on a great amount of location photography, such as Shane (1953) and Secret of the Incas (1954). Erickson thoroughly researched the logistics of shooting in the South of France and communicated with Bill Mull, the production manager on Little Boy Lost (1953). [6]


To Catch a Thief is the only Hitchcock film released by Paramount that is still owned and controlled by the company. The others were sold to Hitchcock in the early 1960s and are currently distributed by Universal Studios.


Drive-in advertisement from 1955. Encina Drive-in Ad - 4 November 1955, Santa Cruz, CA.jpg
Drive-in advertisement from 1955.

The film drew mixed reviews from critics, with some enjoying Grant and Kelly in the lead roles as well as the French Riviera setting, while others expressed disappointment at the lack of suspense compared to earlier Hitchcock films.

Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote in a positive review that the film "comes off completely as a hit in the old Hitchcock style ... Mr. Grant and Miss Kelly do grandly, especially in one sly seduction scene." [7] Variety wrote that while the film was "not the suspense piece one usually associated with the Alfred Hitchcock name," it was "strong on sight and performance values" though it had "some plot weaknesses and is not as smooth in the unfolding as one might expect from an upper 'A' presentation." [8]

Harrison's Reports wrote, "Alfred Hitchcock has not endowed the action with as much suspense as one might expect in a picture produced and directed by him; nevertheless, its story of a one-time jewel robber who sets out to establish his innocence by catching a thief who was using his technique is tight and swiftly-paced, and constantly offers dramatic and comical developments." [9] Richard L. Coe of The Washington Post called it "one of those de luxe pictures in which everyone lives in glorious workless luxury on the French Rivera, looks wonderful, speaks amusingly and is unconcerned with transit strikes or hurricanes. I loved every minute of it." [10]

Philip K. Scheuer of the Los Angeles Times was also positive, calling Grant and Kelly "ideal in the romantic leads" and the dialogue "daring but delightful," adding, "Above all, there is the spell of the French Riviera—a lazy, laissez-faire thing that apparently captivated the director as much as it will audiences in the soft, beguiling hues of its Technicolor and VistaVision." [11]

John McCarten of The New Yorker dismissed the film as "an Alfred Hitchcock picture that makes you wonder what has happened to the man ... As the heiress, Grace Kelly is very pretty. She does not, presumably, try to act." [12] The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote, "Even a comedy thriller needs considerably more in the way of plain excitement and tension than To Catch a Thief provides, and Hitchcock's celebrated habit of playing tricks with the audience ... seem a poor substitute for the real thing." [13]

The Guardian called the film "a thorough disappointment," writing that Hitchcock had "failed so completely that one can only wonder if, in this tale of high-class burglary on the Côte d'Azur, he has not altogether abandoned his devotion to 'tension.' Certainly the 'whodunnit' element in this film is remarkably slack; the unmasking of the master criminal, which is the climax of the story, comes as mildly as bread and milk." [14]

François Truffaut wrote "To Catch a Thief completely satisfies all [Hitchcock's] fans—the snobbiest and the most ordinary—and still manages to be one of the most cynical films Hitchcock has ever made." [15]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 92% based on reviews from 53 critics, with an average rating of 7.9/10, with the critical consensus reading: "It may occasionally be guilty of coasting on pure charm, but To Catch a Thief has it in spades -- as well as a pair of perfectly matched stars in Cary Grant and Grace Kelly." [16]


Robert Burks won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, while Hal Pereira, Joseph McMillan Johnson, Samuel M. Comer and Arthur Krams were nominated for Best Art Direction, and Edith Head was nominated for Best Costume Design. [17]

In 2002, American Film Institute included the film in AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions (#46). [18]


In May 2018, it was announced that Viacom was set to adapt the film as a Spanish-language television series. [19] It was launched in October 2019 as Atrapa a un ladrón (es).

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alfred Hitchcock</span> English film director (1899–1980)

Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was an English film director. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in the history of cinema. In a career spanning six decades, he directed over 50 feature films, many of which are still widely watched and studied today. Known as the "Master of Suspense", he became as well known as any of his actors thanks to his many interviews, his cameo roles in most of his films, and his hosting and producing the television anthology Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–65). His films garnered 46 Academy Award nominations, including six wins, although he never won the award for Best Director, despite five nominations.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cary Grant</span> English-American actor (1904–1986)

Cary Grant was an English-American actor. He was known for his Mid-Atlantic accent, debonair demeanor, lighthearted approach to acting, and sense of comedic timing. He was one of classic Hollywood's definitive leading men. He was nominated twice for the Academy Award, received an Academy Honorary Award in 1970, and received the Kennedy Center Honor in 1981. He was named the second greatest male star of the Golden Age of Hollywood by the American Film Institute in 1999.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Grace Kelly</span> Princess of Monaco, American actress (1929–1982)

Grace Patricia Kelly, also known as Grace of Monaco, was an American actress and Princess of Monaco as the wife of Prince Rainier III from their marriage on April 18, 1956, until her death. Prior to her marriage, she starred in several significant films in the early to mid-1950s. She is known as an iconic actress of the Golden Age of Hollywood. She received an Academy Award, three Golden Globe Awards and was ranked 13th on the American Film Institute's 25 Greatest Female Stars list.

<i>Suspicion</i> (1941 film) 1941 American film by Alfred Hitchcock

Suspicion is a 1941 romantic psychological thriller film noir directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and starring Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine as a married couple. It also features Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Nigel Bruce, Dame May Whitty, Isabel Jeans, Heather Angel, and Leo G. Carroll. Suspicion is based on Francis Iles's novel Before the Fact (1932).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Williams (actor)</span> English actor

John Williams was a British stage, film, and television actor. He is remembered for his role as Chief Inspector Hubbard in Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder, as the chauffeur in Billy Wilder's Sabrina, as Mr. Brogan-Moore in Witness for the Prosecution (1957), and as the second "Mr. French" on TV's Family Affair in its first season (1967).

<i>Marnie</i> (film) 1964 film by Alfred Hitchcock

Marnie is a 1964 American psychological thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock from a screenplay by Jay Presson Allen, based on the 1961 novel of the same name by Winston Graham. The film stars Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jessie Royce Landis</span> American actress

Jessie Royce Landis was an American actress. Her name is also seen as Jesse Royce-Landis. She remains perhaps best-known for her mother roles in the Hitchcock films To Catch a Thief (1955) and North by Northwest (1959).

<i>Sisters</i> (1972 film) 1972 film by Brian De Palma

Sisters is a 1972 American psychological horror film directed by Brian De Palma and starring Margot Kidder, Jennifer Salt, and Charles Durning. It follows a French Canadian model's separated conjoined twin who is suspected of having committed a brutal murder witnessed by a newspaper reporter in Staten Island, New York City.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alfred Hitchcock's unrealized projects</span>

The following is a partial list of unproduced Alfred Hitchcock projects, in roughly chronological order. During a career that spanned more than half a century, Alfred Hitchcock directed over fifty films, and worked on a number of others which never made it beyond the pre-production stage.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Carlton Cannes Hotel</span> Hotel in Cannes, France

The Carlton Cannes, a Regent Hotel is a historic 332-room luxury hotel opened in 1911, located at 58 La Croisette in Cannes on the French Riviera. It is famous for hosting movie stars from around the world during the annual Film Festival. Following major renovations, it reopened on 13 March 2023.

<i>To Catch a Thief</i> (novel)

To Catch a Thief is a 1952 thriller novel by David Dodge. The scene is the French Riviera, and the time is 1951.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Brigitte Auber</span> French actress

Brigitte Auber is a French actress who has worked on stage, film and television in Europe.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alfred Hitchcock filmography</span>

Alfred Hitchcock (1899–1980) was an English director and filmmaker. Popularly known as the "Master of Suspense" for his use of innovative film techniques in thrillers, Hitchcock started his career in the British film industry as a title designer and art director for a number of silent films during the early 1920s. His directorial debut was the 1925 release The Pleasure Garden. Hitchcock followed this with The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog, his first commercial and critical success. It featured many of the thematic elements his films would be known for, such as an innocent man on the run. It also featured the first of his famous cameo appearances. Two years later he directed Blackmail (1929) which was his first sound film. In 1935, Hitchcock directed The 39 Steps; three years later, he directed The Lady Vanishes, starring Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">David Dodge (novelist)</span> American novelist

David Francis Dodge was an American author of mystery/thriller novels and humorous travel books. His first book was published in 1941. His fiction is characterized by tight plotting, brisk dialogue, memorable and well-defined characters, and often exotic locations. His travel writing documented the adventures and misadventures of the Dodge family as they roamed around the world. Practical advice and information for the traveler on a budget are sprinkled liberally throughout the books.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Charles Vanel</span> French actor and director

Charles-Marie Vanel was a French actor and director. During his 76-year film career, which began in 1912, he appeared in more than 200 films and worked with many prominent directors, including Alfred Hitchcock, Luis Buñuel, Jacques Feyder, and Henri-Georges Clouzot. He is perhaps best remembered for his role as a desperate truck driver in Clouzot's The Wages of Fear for which he received a Special Mention at the Cannes Film Festival in 1953.

"Mr. Yin Presents..." is the sixteenth and final episode of the Fourth season of Psych, and the 63rd episode in the series overall. It premiered on March 10, 2010 on USA Network in the United States. The episode serves as the season 4 finale and is the sequel to the third season's finale, "An Evening with Mr. Yang". It is an important installment in one of the series' few story arcs. A third and final installment of the Yin/Yang series, entitled "Yang 3 in 2D", aired as the fifth season finale.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2013 Carlton Cannes heist</span>

The Cannes jewel heist was an armed robbery at the Carlton Intercontinental Hotel in Cannes, a city on the French Riviera. The thief stole gemstones and watches ultimately valued at $136 million. .

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eugene Borden</span> French-American actor (1897–1971)

Eugene Borden was a French-American actor, active in Hollywood from the silent era until the mid-1960’s. Born in Paris, he immigrated to the United States as a teenager, and entered the film industry a short time later. He appeared in over 150 films, as well as shorts, serials, and television shows.

Château de la Croix des Gardes, also known as Villa Perrier, is a mansion in the La Croix-des-Gardes district of Cannes on the French Riviera. It appears as the Sandford Villa in the Alfred Hitchcock's 1955 film To Catch a Thief, with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly.


  1. "To Catch a Thief – Details". American Film Institute . Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  2. "The Top Box-Office Hits of 1955". Variety Weekly. January 25, 1956.
  3. Crowther, Bosley (August 5, 1955). "To Catch a Thief (1955) Screen: Cat Man Out 'To Catch a Thief'; Grant is Ex-Burglar in Hitchcock Thriller". The New York Times .
  4. Orengo 2006
  5. "To Catch a Thief: Locations". IMDb . Retrieved 30 August 2021.
  6. Steinhart, Daniel. (2019). Runaway Hollywood: Internationalizing Postwar Production and Location Shooting. University of California Press. p. 97. ISBN   978-0-52-029864-4.
  7. Crowther, Bosley (August 5, 1955). "Screen: Cat Man Out 'To Catch a Thief". The New York Times : 14.
  8. "To Catch a Thief". Variety : 6. July 20, 1955.
  9. "'To Catch a Thief' with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly". Harrison's Reports : 114. July 16, 1955.
  10. Coe, Richard L. (August 19, 1955). "Catch a Smile and a Thief". The Washington Post . p. 30.
  11. Scheuer, Philip K. (August 4, 1955). "Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Riviera Charm in 'Thief'". Los Angeles Times : A7.
  12. McCarten, John (August 13, 1955). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker . pp. 48–49.
  13. "To Catch a Thief". The Monthly Film Bulletin . 22 (263): 179. December 1955.
  14. "To Catch a Thief". Manchester Guardian : 5. November 1, 1955.
  15. Truffaut, François (2014). The Films in My Life. New York, NY: Diversion Books. ISBN   978-1-62681-396-0.
  16. "To Catch a Thief". Rotten Tomatoes . Retrieved February 8, 2023.
  17. "The 28th Academy Awards – 1956". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences . Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  18. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions" (PDF). American Film Institute. 2002. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  19. Clarke, Stewart (May 23, 2018). "Hitchcock's 'To Catch a Thief' Set for Spanish-Language TV Series Remake". Variety. Retrieved May 27, 2018.


Further reading