Friday, February 16, 2007

To Catch a Thief

Others Things Doin' - 2

I'm gonna hit this quick — there's other things doin'.

A tourist vision of France, "movie France," because 'To Catch a Thief' (1955) is what it looks like when Alfred Hitchcock goes on vacation. After all, shooting in Europe, you get to "write off" your expenses.

If this is taking a break, then once upon a time Monsieur Hulot really did tear the cosmos in two.

One page of the account-book reads: John Robie (Cary Grant): "former cat burglar of Paris before the war" > The New York Herald Tribune = Art ("And I'm Dead") Buchwald <= Gina Lollobrigida.

"Parles anglais!" (barks the dubbed Charles Vanel) —

Danielle (Brigitte Auber) works for her father. Her rival, "Frances" (aren't they all! / Grace Kelly) works for her mother, as a sexual proxy. She screams to Cary Grant (shortly after the fireworks burst in one of Hitch's best scenes) — "You stole mother's jewels!" For Grant, Kelly's sex is a mystery (see the shadow-cowl'd face while the ice around her neck glistens); he is the Celibate, the Thief who steals the jewels for no effective gain, generative or psychosexual. He is "apart," alone. He takes to the roofs (so adeptly), he squats in the chimney-crannies, this American who moved to France, who became a thief, who became a Resistance fighter (for the sake of his own freedom, consequently, as much as the country's), who became a vintner and a flower-harvester... all while playing the bon français with such sartorial panache.

"Slap!" — To watch the funeral scene is to peer into the core of the 'To Catch a Thief'-mechanism: a Hitch-wound* biography of the man who went by "Cary Grant."

* 'Rear Window' (1954) — See A.H. at the mantle in the composer's apartment.

Rear Window by Alfred Hitchcock, 1954:

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