"After reading the gushing, swooning review from the DVD critic in last Tuesday's NY Times, I immediately ordered the "Special Collector's Edition" of TO CATCH A THIEF from Amazon. When it arrived, I compared it to my original Paramount "Widescreen Edition" from 2002. Well, the critic was right--there's simply no comparison. This new version has a 2.0 Dolby Surround soundtrack (in addition to the original mono version) and a cleaned-up, enhanced, crystal-clear picture, start to finish. It looks like they took the drab, blurry, faded old stock and actually washed it, removing years of dirt and grime and smoke and hair and whatever else was there, not to mention a computerized removal of virtually all scratches and glitches. The result is astounding.
As for the color, see for yourself. Pay close attention to the first car chase down the mountain, the meeting in the flower market, and the costume ball near the end. Not to mention the many night scenes on rooftops, where everything is now much more visible than before. And Grant and Kelly? Well, the two most beautiful people who ever lived look even more beautiful. Wait till you see the famous fireworks scene now!
I don't have to tell you that this film is wonderful, no matter which version you have. But I can guarantee you that this newly restored version makes it seem better than ever. If you're as nuts about Hitchcock as I am, it really is worth the upgrade. Enjoy!
Update (11/8/2009): The new To Catch a Thief - The Centennial Collection (1955) (2pc) is essentially the same as the 2007 "Special Collector's Edition," with the same upgraded print. This review applies to both editions."
Cary and Grace on the French Riviera
Bobby Underwood | Manly NSW, Australia | 10/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This travel brochure to adventure and romance is one of Alfred Hitchcock's most entertaining films. The gorgeous vistas of the French Riviera are matched perfectly by the stunning duo of Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. Robert Burks' cinematography was nominated for an Academy Award and Edith Head gives Grace Kelly the look of an American princess. A fine screenplay from Michael Hayes based on a novel by David Dodge, and a light romantic score from Lyn Murray combine with all the other elements to make this a true film classic.
American John Robie (Cary Grant) has been living well in a beautiful villa on the French Riviera for the past 15 years. Once the most notorious thief in France, the man known as "The Cat" has been quiet for many years. He was in prison during the war when the Germans bombed it. He chose to stay and fight with the French Resistance upon his escape, and became a legend. It led to his parole, which is rather precarious now that a string of jewel robberies mimicking his exact style are occuring on the rooftops of the rich.
The French police want him for it, and his old pals are angry that he's brought them this unwanted attention after all these years. Since the only way to clear himself is to catch the thief himself, he hooks up with an insurance agent whose company is paying out the claims on all the robberies and begins a game of cat and mouse with the thief. The cheese in the trap is the delicious Grace Kelly.
Francie Stevens (Kelly) and her mother, Jessie (Jesse Royce Landis), are vacationing on the Riviera. Robie, posing as a lumber tycoon from Oregon, wants to keep they and their diamonds company until the thief strikes. Francie throws off his game, however, when she learns early on who he really is and displays a wild enthusiasm for helping him steal! Robie isn't there to steal, of course, but has trouble convincing Francie of that when her mother's jewels are stolen. Coming on the heels of a romantic interlude between the two, it is especially insulting.
That evening together is framed beautifully by Hitchcock, cutting back and forth between the fireworks outside on the Riviera and the fireworks going on inside. Kelly is like a playful kitten with a gleam in her eye, and Grant the older cat, who's seen her kind of kitten before and isn't sure he wants to play. There is a wonderful chemistry between the two, who seemed to be made for each other on the screen. A wild ride in her sports car along the coast that has Robie a little worried and a picnic in elegant dress are a treat to watch.
Complicating matters is another sexy kitten, Danielle Foussard (Brigitte Auber). She is the daughter of one of his old pals (Jean Martinelli) and would like nothing better than to run off with Robie to South America. But she is a different kind of kitten, perhaps harder to handle than Francie. When her father is murdered and pegged as the thief, she lashes out at Robie at his funeral. By this time, Francie's wise mom has set her straight about Robie, and together they set a trap for the real thief at a posh costume ball.
It will lead to an exciting and entertaining chase on the rooftops as Robie unmasks the imposter. Since he's enlisted Francie's help this time, he is forced to admit he may not be the lone wolf he thought he was. There is a terrific conclusion as everyone gets what they want, especially the viewer. Look quick for Hitch on the back seat of the bus Grant uses to evade the police! This is elegant escapist entertainment that you can't help but fall in love with. A marvelous film to get lost in on any weekend."
Ron S. Daschmans | Sacramento, CA | 05/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Is there a difference in this latest version of this DVD release? Or is it simply a marketing "repackage"? There is a difference!
In my opinion, the DVD transfer of this "Special Collector's Edition" is far superior to the original DVD release. In a side-by-side comparison, I was amazed to see the job that was performed on this restoration. While, the original DVD contains plenty of dirt, scratches, conversion-related distortion/noise, etc., the Special Collector's Edition looks nearly pristine.
There are plenty of scenes in the movie where I experienced, how can I describe it, the illusion of depth and/or three-dimensional effect.
This version will certainly replace my original copy."
Fernando Silva | Santiago de Chile. | 04/12/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a great experience it has been to watch this long-cherished Hitchcock film, on DVD format, thus watching it in full glory, Widescreen (Vistavision), with crisp, sharp images, brilliant colors, etc....after of years of watching faded, full screen prints on TV. On top of this, you get excellent bonuses: excellent documentaries, comments, still galleries,... What more can I say? Paramount is doing its best with their classics!...Top performances by the very attractive two leads' (Kelly and Grant)....in fact Kelly never looked so ravishing and gorgeous than here, only perhaps in "The Swan" (1956)....being one the most sensual, elegant and beautiful women of all time....a Real Goddess-come-to-earth.....How can someone so perfect did ever exist!And besides talented!Grant his usual man-of-the-world, excellent timing, top actor and comedian.Great support by the wonderful character actor John Williams and by everybody's favorite sophisticated mother: Jessie Royce Landis (although here she plays a woman of humble origins who became rich because of Oil being found in her Oklahoma Ranch-anyway she looks and behaves like a Queen) and by French grand actor Charles Vanel.And what about those great landscapes of the South of France (Cannes, Monaco, Côte D'Azûr,...), breathtaking!!Vintage Hollywood Classic."
The 2009 Centennial Collection of "To Catch a Thief" is THE
Dennis A. Amith (kndy) | California | 03/23/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Beautiful, well-casted and a classic romantic, suspenseful thriller from Alfred Hitchcock.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"TO CATCH A THIEF" looks great for a 1955 film on DVD. One thing that Hitchcock really utilized on this film is color. From the beauty of France, set design, costume design. Everything was well done and vibrant. The film looks beautiful and is featured in Widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TV's.
As for the audio, audio is presented in Dolby Digital English 2.0 Surround/English, French and Spanish Mono.
As for subtitles, subtitles are in English, French and Spanish.
There are a good number of special features on the Centennial Collection of "TO CATCH A THIEF" with a few new featurettes plus the previous features included in the 2007 DVD release. The majority of the special features are included on the second disc (commentary on the first disc). Included are:
* Commentary: - The Centennial Collection forgoes the original commentary featured on the 2007 DVD by Peter Bogdanovich and Laurent Bouzereau and now features commentary by Dr. Drew Casper, Hitchcock Prof. of American Film at USC who definitely knows his Hitchcock (even Hitchcock's family are surprised with his knowledge for the "A Night With the Hitchcock" events). Casper is passionate about the filming and his commentary is just informative and well-done. * A Night with the Hitchcock's - A new 23-minute featurette filmed on Nov. 2008 at the University of Southern California (USC). The Hitchcock class is one of the most popular classes at the university and the family has come to these events for several years answering questions from students in regards to Alfred Hitchcock as a director and also insight of his family life. Pat Hitchcock (daughter of Alfred Hitchcock), Mary Stone (granddaughter of Alfred Hitchcock) and moderated by Dr. Drew Casper, Hitchcock Prof. of American Film at USC. Very informative and enjoyable to learn about the family life of Alfred Hitchcock. * Unacceptable Under the Code: Film Censorship in America - A new near 12-minute featurette about the strict restrictions imposed on the film industry, this film shows how Alfred Hitchcock would find ways to work around the censorship code. * Writing and Casting To Catch a Thief - A nine minute featurette about the film, the screenplay and casting Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. Original featurette from the 2007 DVD release. * The Making of To Catch a Thief - A near 17-minute featurette about the making of the film, shooting in the US at the Paramount lot and shooting in France. Interview with Hitchcock's daughter Mary Stone who gives insight of the film, especially the challenges of filming the kissing and beach scenes which the censorship code wanted eliminated from the film but how Hitchcock created the film to ensure that the scenes stayed in the film. Interviews with production manager Dock Erickson who provides technical insight and using VistaVision. Interviews with Steven DeRosa, author of "Writing with Hitchcock" who shared his knowledge about Hitchcock and interviews with Pat Hitchcock in regards to Edith Head's fashion designs for the film and much more. An original feature used on the 2007 release. * Behind the Gates: Cary Grant and Grace Kelly - A new six minute featurette about the film featuring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly and how these two had instant chemistry together on screen. * Alfred Hitchcock and To Catch a Thief: An Appreciation - This seven minute featurette is about the humor of Alfred Hitchcock and how Grace Kelly and Hitchcock were good friends. Mary Stone (Hitchcock's granddaughter) discussing her personal experiences with her grandfather including working with him on a college paper about a film they both enjoyed and getting a C and more. Originally featured in the 2007 DVD release of "TO CATCH A THIEF". * Edith Head: The Paramount Years - A 13-minute featurette featuring Edith Head known for her costumes for "Columbia Pictures" and the many memorable films that she took part in. * Trailers: - Original Theatrical Trailer (2:11) * If You Love To Catch Thief, You'll Love this Interactive Travelogue - A segment that allows people to see a map of the French Riviera. When you click on one of the nine cities featured on the map, you get to see parts of the film while a narrator talks about the city and its surroundings. * Galleries - A section to see image galleries for the movie, publicity, visitors to the set and production.
And like previous Centennial Collections from Paramount, a booklet is included with information and tidbits about the film and its stars and also a cardboard slipcase that holds the DVD/case.
There are plenty of Hitchcock films that I would love to see receive a "Centennial Collection" treatment but it'll probably never happen since "TO CATCH A THIEF" is the only Hitchcock film that Paramount still owns (note: the company sold all rights back to Hitchcock in the 1960's which now, the majority of his films are distributed by Universal). But if anything, with this being the sole Hitchcock film owned by Paramount, they really did give an awesome "Centennial Collection" tribute to Alfred Hitchcock with the number of special features included on this DVD. The new features are just great, especially the interviews with his daughter Pat and granddaughter Mary who give us this personal side of Alfred Hitchcock.
"TO CATCH A THIEF" is one of those films that showcase a side of Alfred Hitchcock that doesn't go dark or hardcore into the suspense. In fact, the film is quite beautiful with the amount of cinema work done in France and thus you really get beautiful cinematography during the outdoor scenes.
The chemistry between Cary Grant and Grace Kelly was just well done. Knowing that before Grant took the part, he was set on retirement and felt his career was pretty much done but it was that keen eye of Alfred Hitchcock that wanted these two together and he did what he could to get him to accept the role of John Robie. Grace Kelly, a favorite actress that Hitchcock would have in several of his film (and this film would be her last for him before comitting to her duties as Princess of Monaco) was just absolutely dashing and charming. Both talents just clicked.
Of course, part of the beauty of the film is that it utilized the Technicolor technology, VistaVision for its widescreen shots (Hitchcock's first utilization of the technology in his films) and utilized stereophonic for audio. The film won an Academy Award for "Best Cinematography" and the film is quite deserving. In fact, watching it again, I'm just amazed at the beautiful shots in the film. Well done!
For those who purchased the 2007 DVD, many may wonder if the "Centennial Collection" is worth it? I own the 2007 version but it all depends on the viewer. If the three extra special features and the new commentary are worth it. Personally, I found the added footage and commentary to be well worth it. Dr. Drew Casper's knowledge of Hitchcock is just incredible and his commentary is absolutely well-done and again, "A Night With the Hitchcock's" was just a pleasure to watch. So, yes...this Centennial Collection version is worth it!
Overall, this "Centennial Collection" for "TO CATCH A THIEF" is another solid DVD release for Paramount's collection. Personally, I would love to see these Centennial Collections in Blu-ray but for now, this DVD is just the definitive version to own.
Although, not my favorite Hitchcock film, as I'm more into his more suspenseful and psychological thrillers, I've always enjoyed "TO CATCH A THIEF" for it's overall presentation and the talent involved onscreen but watching this DVD and its special features, it gave me more of an appreciation towards this film.
This film is, to me, is Hitchcock's most passionate and strikingly beautiful looking films that he has ever done so far.
The film is elegant, beautiful and memorable and the many special features included really does give tribute to one of the world's most prolific director's ever.
Alfred Hitchcock fans, "TO CATCH A THIEF - CENTENNIAL COLLECTION" is highly recommended!"