The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Paramount - 1955
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 1955
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Audio Format(s): Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Dolby TrueHD 1.0, French/Spanish/Portuguese Dolby Digital Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Starring: Cary Grant , Grace Kelly , Jessie Landis , Jean Martinelli , Charles Vanel , John Williams , Georgette Anys
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Music by: Lyn Murray
Written by: John Michael Hayes based on the novel by David Dodge
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: March 6, 2012
"For a moment he forgets he’s a thief – and she forgets she’s a lady!"
Cary Grant plays John Robie, a reformed jewel thief once known as "The Cat," who is suspected of a new rash of gem thefts in the luxury hotels of the French Riviera. Using a vacationing heiress named Frances (Grace Kelly), he sees a chance to bait the mysterious thief in order to clear him name.
The French Riviera...two luminous stars (Grace Kelly, Cary Grant)... and the master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, behind the camera. Cary Grant plays John Robie, retired jewel thief once known as "The Cat,". When a new rash of gem thefts occurs amongst the luxury hotels of the spectacular French Riviera, the local police believe that "The Cat" is on the prowl once again. While trying to elude the police Robie catches the eye of Frances Stevens (Kelly), a pampered heiress, who is vacationing with her mother. Robie uses his charm to get into their good graces and unveils a plan (that will require their help) to nab the real thief. Is Robie truly reformed or is he deviously using Frances to gain access to the temping collection of fabulous jewelry belonging to her mother? Either way things don’t go according to plan as he finds that in Frances he gets more than he bargained for in this romantic cat and mouse thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock based on the novel David Dodge.
This is my first time seeing To catch a thief and I thoroughly enjoyed it. By today’s standards it’s hardly original but I am sure that in the mid fifties it had viewers guessing and mired in suspense. That aspect of it played out until the very end of course but for me the real fun was found in the superb chemistry between Grant and Kelly. I also thought that for the time period it must have been considered a bit racy with its innuendo, suggestive tones and the scene involving the “dropped” casino card (into the women’s cleavage) followed by the revealing camera shot. There is a little bit of everything, romance, suspense, action, car chases, witty banter, and of course the whodunit. Hitchcock was a master craftsman who enjoyed a superb working relationship with his cast/crew which definitely shines through in this film. To catch a thief garnered three Academy Award nominations and took home the prize for Robert Burks’ stunning cinematography. Interesting facts: This would be Grace Kelly’s final film with Hitchcock (she was 25 at the time) as she became the Princess of Monaco in 1956. Cary Grant was 50 years old when he made this film. Hard to believe based upon the incredible shape he was in. Considered a classic by many, To catch a thief is a wonderful film that easily withstands the tests of time and receives a rejuvenating shot in the arm with this sparkling Blu-ray Disc release from Paramount.
The film contains mild violence and thematic material that would garner a PG rating.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
To catch a thief comes to Blu-ray from Paramount Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 34 Mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD stereo that has an average bitrate of 1.1 Mbps.
Originally shot in VistaVision this presentation is framed in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and looks marvelous. Colors are tonally balanced with lustrous primaries, clean rendering and delineated secondary hues that all look terrific. Fleshtones are warm with discernible texture and primarily natural depiction. The level of visible detail in facial features, hair and clothing during close-ups is noteworthy. Wide angle shots vary in terms of visual depth but most reveal subtle degrees of refinement and fidelity is never in question. Resolution is excellent as interior and mid level exterior shots offer clarity, detail and dimension that belie the film’s 57 year old age. Robert Burks’ award winning cinematography captures the splendor of the south of France in breathtaking fashion. Blacks are noise free, stable and fairly deep. Contrast and brightness are balanced well which enliven bright scenes and colors while maintaining an appreciable level of visibility and dimension during darker segments. Grain is visible in fine even layers with no apparent signs of image degrading digital noise reduction. I didn’t note the presence of any video related artifacts and thought that the presentation as a whole was top notch.
Paramount includes both stereo and monaural lossless Dolby TrueHD audio options. I chose to use the stereo soundtrack during my evaluation. The original recording wasn’t designed for multi-channel sound and its mono based perspective is favorably conveyed here. Imaging is quite good as the presentation is centrally focused with appreciable directional spacing which broadens depth. Dialogue is clear and clarity/detail is quite good which gives distinction to the less prominent elements contained in the recording. Dynamic range is better than I expected, and although not on par with today’s newer soundtrack recordings, sounds very good for a 50 plus year old soundtrack. Purists will probably prefer the mono audio track however I think that the stereo mix maintains the integrity of the recording and never sounds unnatural.
- Audio commentary by Dr. Drew Casper, Hitchcock film historian
- A night with the Hitchcocks – 22 minute Q&A with Pat Hitchcock & Mary Stone recorded at USC 11/19/08
- Unacceptable under the code: Film censorship in America – 11 minute documentary
- Writing and casting To catch a thief – 9 minute documentary
- The making of To catch a thief – 17 minutes
- Behind the gates: Cary Grant and Grace Kelly – 6 minutes
- Alfred Hitchcock and To catch a thief: An appreciation – 7 minute documentary
- To catch a thief - Interactive travelogue
- (HD) Theatrical trailer
- Galleries – Movie/Publicity/Visitors to the set/Production
Based on David Dodge’s novel, To catch a thief as adapted by screenwriter John Michael Hayes and suspense master Alfred Hitchcock is a wonderful multi-genre film that appeals to a varied audience. I thoroughly enjoyed its eclectic narrative and the strong chemistry between leads Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. It debuts on Blu-ray Disc from Paramount Home Entertainment in a solid package that features marvelous and faithful high definition video quality, crystal clear lossless sound, and previously released bonus supplements that compliment the film. This is highly recommended viewing that deserves a place in the collection of every Hitchcock fan. Enjoy!
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