In Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch A Thief, Cary Grant plays a former hero of the French resistance who can't quite convince a skeptical world that he's mended his ways and abandoned his glamorous old existence as a diamond thief for a life of simple, legal pleasures. Grant's criminal history works against him in that respect, but it's also quite possible that the film's characters would rather inhabit a world in which Cary Grant is a debonair international jewel thief than one in which he's a mere retiree content to while away lazy afternoons tending his garden. With the possible exception of "secret agent," "continental master thief" seems like the only job worthy of Grant. As befits a movie with a protagonist nicknamed "The Cat," Thief proceeds with feline grace, a blissful light-footedness that looks effortless enough, but could only have been accomplished by a master operating at peak form. If nothing else, Thief is a lesson in charisma courtesy of Grant and Grace Kelly, reluctant lovebirds who find love in larceny and larceny in love.
Set in the most lushly photogenic parts of France, the film centers on a string of high-profile burglaries executed in Grant's signature high style. When suspicion falls on Grant, he takes it upon himself to find the real culprit behind the copycat crime wave while simultaneously wooing and being wooed by Kelly, the daughter of nouveau riche straight-talker Jessie Royce Landis.
Fireworks figure prominently in the film's most famous scenes, but most of the pyrotechnics are verbal. John Michael Hayes' dazzling script, adapted from David Dodge's novel, boasts the sophisticated wit, dizzy flirtation, and sexual suggestion of a classic screwball comedy. Like the similarly bewitching Trouble In Paradise, Thief derives an exhilarating erotic charge from criminality, subterfuge, and the allure of fake identities. Thanks to Hitchcock's assured visual sense and Robert Burke's Oscar-winning Vistavision cinematography, Thief is giddy with eye candy, but the scenery is always secondary to the screenplay, which well serves the blinding star-power on display.
Key features: An affectionate, albeit vaguely dismissive, audio commentary by Peter Bogdanovich (who describes it as a "vacation movie") and Laurent Bouzereau join four brief, mildly interesting featurettes.