With Hitchcock being my favorite director, and Cary Grant my favorite actor, To Catch a Thief is of course a movie I have seen many, many times before. Hitchcock and Grant made two darker films together: Suspicion and Notorious and two lighter films together: To Catch a Thief and North By Northwest. But even in Hitchcock’s lightest films, there is something new you can find with each viewing.One thing that really struck me this time around is that To Catch a Thief was Hitchcock’s love letter to his wife and constant collaborator, Alma Reville.
Alma had scriptwriting and continuity credits in several of her husband’s films, and played some role or another in the creation of all of them, whether her name appeared in the credits or not. Biographer Patrick Mcgilligan reports that Hitch would be devastated if his wife lightly criticized even a single scene in one of his films, so important was her opinion to him. The couple loved the French Riviera and often went there to celebrate their birthdays (one day apart from each other in August). Mrs. Hitchcock loved the cuisine of the area and excelled in duplicating it at home, and Mr. Hitchcock loved French wine, becoming a renowned connoisseur, often bringing his own bottles into the regions famous restaurants. By pursuing To Catch a Thief, Hitchcock was giving his wife the opportunity to work together in their favorite place, and the film became on one of their closest collaborations. One of the most famous sequences in the film, in which Grace Kelly races along a coastline road while a nervous Cary Grant looks over his shoulder at the police in pursuit was planned shot by shot by Alma, who knew the area well she was able to give exact instructions to second unit cameramen on what to shoot for back projections.
The film also brings together the Hitchcocks’ favorite actors. Cary Grant was, in Hitchcock’s own words, “the only actor I ever loved,” and Alma was very close with Grace Kelly. Even after she became the Princess of Monaco, Kelly continued to visit the Hitchcocks at their home and often spend a lot of time in the kitchen with Alma. And so To Catch a Thief can be seen as a celebration of everything the Hitchcocks enjoyed together.