To Catch A Thief

To Catch A Thief (1955)
Paramount Home Video
Cast: Cary Grant, Grace Kelly
Extras: Featurettes, Photo Gallery, Trailer

Cary Grant and Grace Kelly were an incredible match-up in the 50s and after viewing Paramount’s latest release of "To Catch A Thief, " even today. Here you have two people oozing superstar qualities with a chemistry that is incredibly entertaining and sizzling at times in a story full of mystery and intrigue.

For those unfamiliar with this great film, "To Catch A Thief" is a crime caper with a bit romance and comedy sprinkled in. And once again, Alfred Hitchcock brings out all the best qualities of his cast, his story and the direction. It tells the story of John Robie (Cary Grant), an infamous jewel thief called "The Cat" whose turf are the upper-class hotels of the French Riviera. A series of jewel thefts immediately make him the primary suspect, but the thing is, he didn’t do it. Frantically he tries to set up a trap to find the real thief, using the rich heiress Frances (Grace Kelly) as his bait. Convinced that Robie is guilty, Frances nonetheless falls in love with him and ultimately tries to help him in his quest.

Paramount is presenting a beautiful transfer of the movie on this DVD. The print is virtually free of defects, creating a very clean image throughout. There is a bit of slight graininess evident, which his a result of the film stock used to shoot the movie. Other than that, the transfer is marvelous in its reproduction. Blacks are very deep and absolutely solid without ever breaking up. The result are shadows that are dark but always well defined. Highlights are perfectly countered and without blooming. The colors of the DVD perfectly restore the original color schemes of the film with its rich hues and often warm, golden tones. It is a sheer pleasure to see this Academy Award winning movie coming to life so beautifully. Very slight edge-enhancement is evident on occasion but other than that, the presentation is entirely free of artifacts.

The DVD contains the original mono audio track of the film, as well as a mono French dub. The audio gives away the film’s considerable age a bit with light sibilance and a limited frequency response, which gives the audio a bit of a harsh quality. The dynamic range of the track is also limited, though overall it is an adequate audio presentation.

It is great to see that Paramount has actually added a number of very good extras to this release, which is somewhat surprising given the studio’s general reluctance in that department. "Writing and Casting" is a new featurette that gives viewers some more insight into how the film was conceived and how we ended up with the cast that helped make the movie so special.
Production aspects and the shooting of the film are covered in the new featurette "The Making Of To Catch A Thief." It covers aspects, such as location shoots, the scoring of the picture, as well as information on the film format used for the production of the movie, and covers a lot of interesting ground despite its rather short running length of roughly 17 minutes. The featurette contains a good number of interviews and recollection of original crew members, making it a through and entertaining addition to the DVD.

"Alfred Hitchcock and To Catch A Thief: An Appreciation" is a featurette that allows Hitchcock’s daughter Pat and his granddaughter to reflect on the film, and Alfred Hitchcock as a person and filmmaker.

A photo gallery with many behind-the-scenes photos is also part of the release – mostly featuring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. It features some of the music from the film, making it appear almost like a nostalgic photo album full of memories that is beautifully put together.

A featurette on costume designer Edith Head is also included on this release. It is rare to see a costume designer become the focus of a feature on a Special Edition, but as you will agree, Head’s design work throughout the motion pictures of the 40s, 50s and 60s is truly impressive. Her career spanned over 40 years in the movies and this featurette gives us a glimpse at the variety of work she has contributed to the movies.

The movie’s theatrical trailer is also included to round out the release. It is presented in <$PS,fullscreen> and shows quite a bit of wear, though.

I have to admit that I am duly impressed with the DVD version that Paramount is presenting here of one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most beautiful films. The film itself is gorgeous to view and the special features are very well put together and highly informative. Fans of Hitchcock’s work will clearly want to give this disc a closer look. It is every bit as good as you would expect… and better.