February 29, 2012

To Catch A Thief (1955)
Paramount Home Video

106 mins. · Not Rated
16x9 · 1.85:1

Format
Blu-Ray

Audio
English - Dolby TrueHD 2.0
English - Dolby TrueHD mono
French - DD Mono
Spanish - DD Mono

Subtitles
English, French, Spanish, Portuguese

Extras
Commentary Track, Featurettes, Interactive Travelogue, Galleries, Theatrical Trailer

Starring
Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, John Williams, Jessie Royce Landis

Review by
Guido Henkel


Rating



(1955)

Cary Grant and Grace Kelly were an incredible match-up in the 50s and after watching Paramount Home Entertainment's latest Blu-Ray Disc version of the Alfred Hitchcock mystery "To Catch A Thief," their presence is still mesmerizing, 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 humor, 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 is the upper-class hotels of the French Riviera. Robie has retired many years ago, but a renewed string of jewel thefts immediately makes him the primary suspect. Th thing is, of course, that he didn't do it. In order to exonerate himself, he tries frantically to set up a trap to find the real thief, using the rich heiress Frances (Grace Kelly) as his bait. Although she is absolutely convinced that Robie is the stealthy master thief, Frances falls in love with Robie's charm and ultimately tries to help him in his quest.

Paramount Home Entertainment delivers a magnificent 1080p high definition transfer of the movie on this Blu-Ray release. 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. The presentation is wonderfully rich in detail and brings out every little detail in the image, down to the seams of the magnificent costumes. Blacks are very deep and absolutely solid without ever breaking up. The result is an image that has visual depth and shadows that are dark but always well defined. Highlights are perfectly countered and without blooming. The colors of this high definition transfer are simply gorgeous and absolutely luminous, perfectly restoring the original look and feel 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 in all of its detail and glory.

The Blu-Ray Disc features a Dolby TrueHD audio track in stereo and mono, along with a French and Spanish language track in mono Dolby Digital format. The audio has been cleaned up and the frequency response expanded to give it a bit more body - mostly to good effect. Nonetheless, the film's considerable age is evident on occasion with light sibilance and a bit of a harsh quality at times. The dynamic range of the track is also limited, though overall it is definitely a pleasing audio presentation that complements the movie as a whole.

The release is stuffed with bonus materials, some old, some new. The bonus materials start off with a commentary track by Hitchcock film historian, Drew Casper. It is a solid track, filled with valuable insight in the machinations of Hollywood at the time, as well as the film production itself.

Also included is the featurette "A Night with the Hitchcocks," featuring a panel session with Alfred Hitchcock's daughter Pat and his grand-daughter, as they talk about the director to film students.

Another very cool featurette is called "Unacceptable under the Code," and takes a look at how film rating has looked like during the 50s. The most intriguing part about the obsessive fanaticism that drove the production code of the time is how filmmakers circumvented it. As illustrated in the featurette, "To Catch a Thief" is a perfect example how a clever director made sure his intentions remained intact.

"Writing and Casting" is a 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 thorough and entertaining addition to the release.

"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 legendary 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.

This is a truly impressive release by Paramount Home Entertainment, and I could not have wished for a more apt high definition release of this wonderful movie. 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.

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