Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: To Catch a Thief (1955)

        Good afternoon to Nathaniel and everyone at The Film Experience. Welcome to this minimally-decorated, low-concept film blog that a longtime lurker and lover of film blogs has just begun. If you were wondering, my name is Will. Thanks for stopping by.

I've chosen what must be the longest take in To Catch a Thief for my best shot.

There's the first frame of it. It's a setup for Frances Stevens (Grace Kelly) to explain how she has figured out that Cary Grant's character is the famous jewel thief John Robie and not the American tourist he has claimed to be. She will do this while serving up a picnic. To the accompaniment of a lovely projection of the Cannes shoreline, Grace Kelly and Cary Grant banter while eating. Grant seems to be a lot hungrier that Kelly. He's really going at that chicken!

 Hitchcock soberly stages a rather dull piece of exposition with a rather simple portrait of his character's lavish lifestyles  - a picnic in the hills of the Rivera. The blocking and the acting, however, emphasize the slightest amount of discomfort. Kelly, in the driver's seat, towers over Grant as the latter scurries about his seat at the bottom of the car. For all its simplicity, the arrangement is a joy to watch; the film, having fun with the tools it has been given, is expressing its character relationships and fulfilling the quota for its glamour shots. Finally, To Catch a Thief comes out at a time Hitchcock's career where Freudian sexuality over-determines just about every inch of the frame, We know exactly what they are chewing when they are chewing those pieces of dark meat.

There also seemed to be some mixed signals in the direction that result in hilarious moments where Grant, denied first place in the salt shaker line, seems genuinely upset. That's him, holding up his chicken thigh while Kelly ignores him.

And he's just kind of amused.

Something about the way that big piece of chicken flesh is at the very front of the frame is infinitely amusing to me. Kelly, a more discreet diner (and lover!), does chomp down a few times. I'll close this post with a still of her ruminating.

And that, dear readers, is To Catch a Thief. See you next week!

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