This Hitchcock Thriller Paved the Way for a New Cary Grant


The big picture

  • Alfred Hitchcock convinced Cary Grant to end his retirement
    To catch a thief
  • Grant's role in the film marked a career resurgence thanks in part to his excellent chemistry with Grace Kelly.
  • The film's success led to further collaborations between Grant and Hitchcock, including
    From north to northwest

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Alfred Hitchcock is the most influential commercial filmmaker of all time. By fusing artistic sensibilities with narratives that appeal to a wide audience, Hitchcock helped pioneer the concept of the “star director” long before that. Steven Spielberg or Martin Scorsese their careers began. Although Hitchcock was known for creating innovative camera techniques and pushing the technical boundaries of his projects, Hitchcock was instrumental in establishing the careers of some of the most beloved movie stars of all time. Although he briefly considered ending his career, Cary Grant decided to end his retirement when Hitchcock asked him to star To catch a thief.

To catch a thief

A retired jewel thief sets out to prove his innocence after being suspected of returning to his old occupation.

Publication date
August 3, 1955

Execution time

Alfred Hitchcock convinced Cary Grant to end his retirement

Although he was only 50 when retirement was considered, Grant had become one of the most prominent movie stars the Golden Age of Hollywood. His cheerful and charismatic personality made him ideal for classic romantic comedies, earning him leading roles in classics such as Raising the baby, her little girl Friday, i Arsenic and Old Lace. While there was certainly a difference between being a “great movie star” and a “great actor,” Grant was among the rare performers who appealed to both commercial audiences and prestigious voting bodies. His most sensitive and emotionally authentic performances in romantic dramas Penny Serenade i None but the lonely heart earned him Oscar nominations for best actor.

Throughout his career, Grant worked with such esteemed filmmakers as George Cukor i Howard Hawks, often selecting prestigious collaborators to guarantee the quality of their production. Despite this, Grant's career rose to a new level thanks to his collaborations with Hitchcock. Although many in the industry saw Grant as a pretty face, Hitchcock showed that he could bring more depth to her performances by casting her in significantly darker roles. After playing a mischievous rogue with malicious intentions suspect and a two-faced American spy notorious, Grant proved he could subvert his stardom. The success of suspect i notorious it created a lifelong friendship between Grant and his most beloved director.

Although he planned to retire to spend more time with his family, Grant could not refuse a meeting with Hitchcock. While the notion of playing a cat thief in the film that would become To catch a thief intrigued him, Grant was reluctant to read any of Hitchcock's scripts, fearing the “Master of Suspense” would try to pull him out of retirement. Hitchcock remained respectful of Grant's wishes, but managed to inform him that his new heist adventure film would be shot on the French Riviera and that the Oscar-nominated. midday co-star Grace Kelly he was supposed to be the main love interest. The idea of ​​filming in such an exotic and magnificent location with one of the most acclaimed actresses of her generation proved to be too good an offer for Grant, and he subsequently agreed to star To catch a thief.

Cary Grant was perfect for 'To Catch a Thief'

Frances, played by Grace Kelly, and John, played by Cary Grant, standing and facing each other in To Catch a Thief
Image via Paramount Pictures

Although Hitchcock had submitted a complete copy of the script during their initial meeting, it was obvious that To catch a thief it was written with Grant in mind. Set in post-World War II France, To catch a thief Grant played retired cat burglar John Robie, whose expedition into a hilltop villa begins to attract the suspicions of the local authorities. Cops are trying to catch the culprit behind a series of robberies and theorize that Robie (formerly known as “The Cat”) may be responsible for the robberies. Disturbed that he is under suspicion for a series of crimes he did not commit, Robbie decides to work to identify the new thief. This brings him back into the world of high-stakes heists that he once thought were far behind.

Given the parallels with his own proposed retirement, Grant gives a very self-aware performance To catch a thief which is classified among the best works of his career. Much like Grant himself, Robie is a seasoned professional who, due to extenuating circumstances, is forced to return to his old profession, where he must prove that he has lost none of the skills that made him so successful in the first place. Although he initially proposes to clear his name, Robie discovers that he really likes to participate in the heists again; Ironically, Grant may have felt the same way, as he gives one of the most joyous performances of his career. The genuine spark of energy within his romantic chemistry with Kelly suggests that Grant was having more fun filming To catch a thief than in the previous decade of his career.

Grant made some of his best films after 'To Catch a Thief'

Although Robie suggests he's only coming back for “one last job,” To catch a thief ended up starting a new renaissance within Grant's career. The film served as a reminder of how willfully charismatic and humorous Grant could be; despite the intense nature of the heist sequences, To catch a thief managed to fuse comedy and action into a perfect blend. Subsequently, he relaunched his career as a romantic lead with roles in romantic films. An affair to remember, Pride and passion, kiss them for me, i indiscreet.

Although it gave them both a return, To catch a thief it was not the last collaboration between Hitchcock and Grant. They would reunite for the classic adventure film From north to northwestwhich established Grant as an action star and became one of the highest-grossing films of Hitchcock's career.From north to northwest may have been the superior film, though To catch a thief he was instrumental in convincing one of the most charismatic actors in the industry not to abandon his career when he was advanced.

To catch a thief is available to stream on Prime Video in the US

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