To Catch a Thief: French Girl in Seattle’s tribute to cinema

 This story was originally published in May 2013. It has been updated.

This week, The 66th Cannes Film Festival opened with much anticipation. The prestigious jury, led by Steven Spielberg, includes glamorous Nicole Kidman, French actor Daniel Auteuil, director Ang Lee, and actor Christoph Waltz to name just a few.


Ah, Cannes! The red carpet. Hundreds of paparazzi and professional photographers. Journalists and reporters. Limousines. Fans. Stars. Rain. Torrential rain. 

Wait. Rain? In May on the French Riviera? Oh oui, and lots of it. It has been a soggy five days in Cannes, and many are wondering if this is the end of the world as they know it…

Carey Mulligan (the Great Gatsby) thinks: @#$%!!!

Then, just before the weekend, a man shot a gun loaded with blanks during the taping of a French TV show, prompting the audience and everyone present (including actors Daniel Auteuil and Christoph Waltz) to duck for cover. He was quickly apprehended.

As if this weren’t bad enough, I heard on the French news that the Chopard jewelry house, one of the festival’s official sponsors, had lost over one million Euros in a burglary. When the news broke, the Chopard spokesperson announced promptly that none of the jewelry stolen from a rented hotel safe [ed: a rented hotel safe???] was part of the “special collection” reserved for the Festival’s glamorous movie stars. Phew. I don’t know about you, but I feel better already. Thank goodness Nicole Kidman will be accessorized properly when she announces the Festival’s winners in a few days!
The French police is investigating, but they are at a loss, and no suspect has been arrested yet. If they asked me, I could tell them who did it. It seems pretty obvious. The culprit is… the Cat!
 

Un chat noir? A black cat? Tssssss… Don’t you know your classics? The Cat, a.k.a. John Robie!
 

Voilà John Robie

Do you see what I mean? In a strange turn of events, it seems we are witnessing a case of life imitates art… on the French Riviera.
 
Come on. You must remember, even if you do not love movies as much as this French Girl does. After all, this is only one of the most famous American movies ever filmed in Europe! A legend. I am talking, of course, about To Catch a Thief released to great acclaim in 1955.
 

How many times have I seen this classic? You don’t want to know. It is still a favorite here for home-based movie nights with my girlfriends. Just for the fun of it, (and to try and forget the chilly spring weather on the French Riviera and in the Pacific Northwest,) let’s list some of the reasons why the movie remains so mesmerizing, 58 years after it was released.

1. Location, location, location.

La Côte d’Azur.
Cannes’ prestigious Carlton Hotel. Nice’s Promenade des Anglais. Some of the quaintest villages in the foothills above the French Riviera, Tourrettes sur Loup, le Bar sur Loup, Gourdon and la Turbie. La Côte d’Azur threatens to steal the show in almost every frame, if it weren’t for the movie’s two superstars. And this takes us to…

Nice setting for a picnic, Grace Kelly and Cary Grant…

 2. The undeniable chemistry between the two lead actors.

Grace Kelly
. Cary Grant. Beautiful. Smart. Sexy. And great friends off camera. Their witty and playful banter catches viewers’ attention. Watch them make the screen sizzle!

John Robie: You’re here in Europe to buy a husband.

Frances Stevens: The man I want doesn’t have a price.

John Robie: That eliminates me.


Kelly and Grant: Amis à la ville, comme à l’écran…

3. Grace Kelly’s elegance
 

She would have looked good in a garbage bag, but in the iconic movie, she never had to. Grace Kelly was dressed by legendary costume designer Edith Head (she won eight Academy Awards,) and had never looked so… regal.

 

The “Bathing Suit”
The lamé gown in the costume ball finale

 

The blue chiffon evening dress that, many years later, inspired another princess…

4. A talented director.
 

“Hitch,” a.k.a. Sir Alfred Hitchcock. Creative. Prolific. Need I say more?
 
 

Making one of his signature cameo appearances in the movie…
Directing his actors in Cannes…


5. Elegant fluff as art.
 
To Catch a Thief is not considered one of Hitchcock’s best movies. Yet, it remains a viewers’ favorite. Revenge. Deception. An ex-burglar forced out of retirement. Suspense. Thrilling car chases. This would be good enough for some, but what stands out is the movie’s visual style, the stylized elegance in each frame, from the splendid French Riviera locations; to Edith Head’s costumes; and the lead actors’ natural charm. Perfection. Pure escapism.

Will John Robie prove his innocence?
The hair-raising drive along the Grande Corniche road above Monte-Carlo

6. A princess story.
To Catch a Thief was Grace Kelly’s last film with Alfred Hitchcock. As she was attending the Cannes Film Festival to promote the movie in 1955, she was invited to meet Prince Rainier of Monaco. A photo session was organized at the royal palace. The rest, as they say, is History…

A young prince meets his princess
Visiting the royal palace with Prince Rainier
Grace and Rainier’s wedding day: April 19, 1956

What about you? Have you seen To Catch a Thief? Did you like it?
 
A bientôt.
 
 
To Catch a Thief (movie trailer:)

http://bradfordkendall.com



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What did you think about this article? Let me know in the comment section below, (I love reading your messages and reply to most.) Don’t be selfish and share with a friend! Merci. Véronique (French Girl in Seattle)

67 Comments

  • Oh the glamour of it all. Why didn’t those two have children together – can you imagine hoe beautiful they would have been?
    I think that you were born too late Veronique… at your peak in the 50’s would have been perfect!

  • Have i seen it? You ask.. Veronique. Why yes. Yes indeed i have.. at least a dozen times, maybe a couple more. And i’ll never, ever have enough. Cary and Grace! One of the handsomest men in the Universe ever, and one of the most beautiful women. I think only Catherine Deneuve is more gorgeous, at least to me. And that magnificent blue chiffon gown? Gawd! Breathtaking. Now i think i need to watch the movie some night this week, with a delicious glass of champagne. Thank you for this post. And i shouldn’t admit it, but i love the intrigue of the jewel theft this weekend. I do hope, though, that the thief is apprehended pronto! 🙂

    PS.. i love your last photo of the dogs. I hope you’re having a great.. if chilly.. weekend!

  • My, Grace Kelly is pure style . . . fads may come and go, but style is forever.
    Very interesting post:)
    Have a lovely day . . . here’s wishing you a week full of sunny days.
    Connie 🙂

    • Bonjour Connie. Coco Chanel would have agreed with you. In fact she did leave behind a few memorable quotes about style… I wonder if she ever met Grace Kelly? Thank you for stopping by and happy weekend to you too!

  • I have seen that movie so many times. I am always blown away by the elegance. Nobody looks that good any more. That was everyday glamour.

    Thanks for the wonderful reminder 🙂
    Di
    X

    • Bonjour Dianne. How wonderful to meet you, thanks to Anita!
      I agree with you: Everyday elegance is harder to come by. And I live in the “laid back” Pacific Northwest so let me tell you, there are days when I think I will never see true elegance again. Granted it is harder to pull off when wearing a fleece-based wardrobe 🙂 All joking aside, I hope you have a grand time in France next week!

  • WOW.

    Véro, you have captured a mesmerizing moment in this party for MOI! Like you, I have seen this well over 20 times! My husband always pulls it out from out collection as a favorite to watch on just the right weekend night.

    You are so right; the chemistry between the actors, the QUICK WIT (I love the scene when the two women meet in the water when Grant says, “It looks like my car went missing” and Kelley says, “No it hasn’t, it’s just become amphibious!” Then she says to the French girl, “OLD? Anything over 20 would look old to a mere child.” Then the smart French girl says, “CHILD? WOULD YOU LIKE TO STAND IN SHALLOWER WATERS AND DISCUSS THAT!” I tell you, that is SMART!

    Your photos, the way you introduce this story…..UN COUP DE GÉNIE!!!!!!!!!

    I am coming back for MORE! LOVE IT! Anita

    • Dear Anita. I love your enthusiasm. So happy you, too, can quote the movie 🙂

      At least now, with this brand-new story, I feel I have paid tribute to your wonderful France-themed party; the French Riviera; and my beloved movies…

  • OH! Et je voudrais faire un commentaire à propos de ton commentaire chez moi….je t’embrasse ma chère, et je souhaite une vie pleine de grâce et de paix…tu es en train d’eprouver quelque chose très difficile, mais n’oublies jamais que tu as des amies qui t’aiment fort….Anita

    • Merci Elizabeth. Poor Maison Chopard indeed. 😉 It could have been worse: They still get to approach the movie stars at the Festival when they “accessorize” them before they step on the red carpet. And they are in Cannes, for crying out loud. Even with the rain, it’s still the French Riviera! 🙂

      Merci for your visit. Come back soon, ok?

  • Dear Véronique,

    First things first, I am charmed to meet you and I have found this post to be truly fascinating and beautifully put together. Yes indeed, I have seen this film and agree with some of the comments above: the elegance and ‘classe’ of these talented actors is hard to beat.

    Thank you for taking the time to share this with us. A little interesting fact, I believe is that my cousin lives in Nice and has told me on several occasions that the month of May is often particularly rainy on the Côte d’Azur.

    Warmest wishes from your most recent follower,

    Stephanie

    • What a lovely name for a blog, Stephanie. Le Millefeuille happens to be my favorite French pastry 🙂

      I will ask my friend Malyss (another blogger,) if she confirms your cousin’s theory on Nice weather in the month of May (i had personally heard it about March, not May, but you never know…) — A bientôt

    • Bonjour Nana. You lucky birds: There is no Deuche in my neighborhood, that’s for sure! And limey green to boot! Wow!

      I will go and pay your friend Hélène a visit, c’est promis. Thank you for stopping by!

  • How can you think of the south of France and NOT think of Grace Kelly? It was so much fun to see these photos. So romantic. By the way, I have long had a crush on Daniel Auteil. Crazy, I know, but I think he is so cute.

    • Hey, I like Daniel Auteuil too. He can be quite charming, and what a fantastic actor. He can do it all, comedy or drama. Definitely one of France’s finest. He was so cute on all the pics of the Festival Opening day. You could tell he was smitten with co-jury Nicole Kidman even though she towered above him! 🙂

  • I think Grace Kelly (or Cary Grant, for that matter) would look far better in the stolen jewels than ANY of those “celebrities”! Hmmm, think I will rent the movie, it’s been years since I’ve seen it. That was fun!

    • I would have to agree with you Jeri. The jewels don’t make the star. I saw Helen Mirren try on some Chopard jewels for the Festival the other day. She looked amazing in them, very regal. But that’s Helen Mirren! 🙂

  • Bonjour Veronique. Lovely post. I must admit I have not seen the movie but I will definitely do so now that I realize it was shot on location in the South of France. I also had never heard the story about how Grace Kelly met Prince Rainier. Thanks for sharing.

  • Oui! I have seen this movie many times. It is still a favorite. As you say ~ a perfect pair with Grant and Kelly. The cute image of the two dogs is adorable. The driver looks like our Sadie girl, except she is not as dark. 😉

  • The To Catch A Thief movie is truly glamorous with the perfect setting in the French Riviera. Princess Diana and Princess Grace were truly elegant and naturally beautiful women. We miss them. It must be a fabulous experience to be in Cannes during the Film Festival, the most glamorous Film Festival in the World.

    • Yes, it must be, except this year, most “festivaliers” look like wet rags when they go up the famous stairs — because of the rain. I even heard that most movie rooms where the movies in competition are playing smell suspiciously like a wet dog! 🙂

  • Nice post of Cannes. We are very excited here, after many, many years a Dutch movie is in the race for a Golden Palm. The movie “Borgman” was shown last Sunday and the Press in Cannes was very enthousiastic! Keep our fingers crossed!

  • Oui, vu et revu, et toujours avec plaisir!
    tu devrais faire un post sur les films tournés dans la region, de “Sans mobile apparent” à “Ronin”, de James Bond à Hercule Poirot, tu aurais de quoi faire..
    Aujourd’hui la pluie a enfin cessé, le …vent l’a chassée!:o)
    Les parasols vont voler sur la Croisette!!
    A bientôt,
    je t’embrasse.

    • Vous avez “la scoumoune” côté météo cette année. C’est drôle, à Seattle, les choses sont un peu plus calmes, une fois n’est pas coutume…

      Une excellente suggestion que tu me fais-là, dis-moi. Evidemment, ce sera plus difficile de “faire rêver” dans les chaumières avec les photos de Ronin, mais on peut essayer… A suivre.

      Bonne semaine, et gare au vent. Mort par parasol, ça peut être douloureux 🙂

    • De Niro et Sean Bean, moi ça me fait rêver! :o) mais bon, toi tu peux te concentrer sur les James Bond tournés ici, il te sera beaucoup pardonné!..

  • Bonjour! Great post and such nice pictures! I love keeping up with the glamour of Cannes past and present. Can’t wait to see some of the big premieres at the cinema this year!

  • Lovely to discover your blog, via Anita’s party.
    Thank you for sharing a fabulous post – I love the movie and Grace Kelly always was so elegant and beautiful.

    Happy week
    Carolyn

  • Five days of rain in Cannes – looks like they are ‘enjoying’ some British weather for a change!! You have now convinced me to watch ‘To Catch a Thief’ again. I haven’t seen it for years and as for Grace Kelly, I have always admired her style and elegance. Somehow she has a very ‘modern’ look, a beauty which is timeless and many of her outfits wouldn’t look out of place today.
    PS I thoroughly enjoyed your list ‘Telltale signs you live in Paris’ which certainly made me smile.

    • No kidding! True English/Seattle weather on the Riviera these days. What gives?

      Reading all the comments here I wonder: Is there a single person who does not like Grace Kelly or at least her sense of style and natural elegance? 🙂

  • Veronique, you have captured the true feeling of the Riviera in this post! It is the only part of France I have visited, but this took me back! This party is such fun and I’m truly happy to meet you!

  • To Catch A Thief is definitely a favourite Veronique. Grace Kelly was a true beauty. Oh la! Seeing your beautiful black pussy cat made me miss my little Syd even more 🙁

  • To Catch a Thief is really one of my favorites, Cannes can not be beat. I had an emergency while I was in NY and just got my french post up today. I loved this post. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

  • Hello French Girl, I’m just south of you…Eugene. Often in Portland. And Paris as often as possible. I LOVE that movie and you remind me that it’s been way too long since I’ve seen it. Grace Kelly is like none other.
    And I often try to post French news on my blog. Where do you get yours?
    So happy to finally meet you thanks to Anita! Will be back for more!
    Bisous, Kirsten

    • Bonjour Kirsten de Eugene, Or. So happy to welcome you here.

      I get my French news from TV5 (the TV channel I subscribe to,) and a variety of French and American websites I find browsing online. What would we do without the Internet? — Write books instead of blogging (maybe) 🙂

      A bientôt.

  • Gosh, are you looking forward to the new Grace Kelly film with Nicole? I am but feel a bit apprehensive about the lead role. We’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we? 🙂

    • I guess so. When I heard of the movie, I thought the casting was interesting. I don’t see much resemblance between Grace Kelly and Nicole Kidman. Then again, how do you cast an actress to play such an icon? Impossible mission…

  • Darling Grace…did anyone ever move as beautifully or look as regal as Grace Kelly? She was born to be a Princess. As you know, we were both Philadelphia girls, although our destinies diverged greatly. You do remember my story about “almost” meeting her, don’t you?

    Beautiful post comme d’hab.

    Gros bisous, M-T

  • I have never seen those photos of Grace Kelly in that amazing dress with Prince Ranier. She looks amazing. Cannes is a very
    cool place and the Riviera buzzes with chic and excitement. Lovely to be reminded of that. Thanks to Anita for introducing us all to one another… love what you say about comments too…. they have introduced me to so many people!

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