Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Hit Me With Your Best Shot - To Catch a Thief

To Catch a Thief is one of my favorite Hitchcock films. If I'm being honest with myself, it's not one of his best, but it is oh so very good at being what it is - an entertaining, luxe, escapist thriller - that it is always in my Top Ten Favorite Hitchcocks. Few of the Master of Suspense's Hollywood films are so purely entertaining, and none have as much glamour.

I love many things about To Catch a Thief, but we are here to discuss cinematography. And there are three things I really love about the cinematography of To Catch a Thief.

1. The location photography, including best rear-projection driving scenes in Old Hollywood.

2. The visual wit. This is one of Hitchcock's wittiest films visually.

"Un poulet!"

3. The green-ish nighttime hues.

"Mother, the book you're reading is upside down!"

That last one is my favorite moment in the film, a perfect example of the film's wit. But I felt weird picking it for the Best Shot, since what makes me laugh is the placement of that line of dialogue. My Best Shot comes near the end of the film, as Cary Grant's retired cat burglar John Robie hides out on the roof waiting to catch his copy cat. We've only just found out that the costumed gentleman dancing with Grace Kelly's danger whore Francie all night was not John but rather the insurance adjuster working with him to protect the jewels he has insured, and Hitch cuts right to John on the roof and does the magnificent pull-out (which I wasn't able to gif):

It's so stunningly lit, and the camera moves so perfectly, and it puts you right into John's slightly vertiginous head space - he knows what he's doing, he's in his element, but he's nervous. If he doesn't catch this guy, he's going to jail for something he didn't do. And might also lose a beautiful woman in the process. It's an effortless shot, just like the whole film.


  1. I enjoy this film immensely. It is one of Hitchcock's lighter films and how I dreamed of having Grace Kelly's gowns! The greenish hue he has used more than once, the most famous being in Vertigo

    1. hehe I don't blame you! Everything Grace wears in this is just so damn covetable!

      It's funny, I didn't even think of Vertigo with all the green, but you're absolutely right!