Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



To Catch A Thief (1955)

 



Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions
Screenshots

To Catch A Thief (1955)

In Alfred Hitchcock's lightweight suspense thriller set on the French Riviera:

  • the opening view of a woman after she noticed her empty jewelry case in her French Riveria hotel room, screaming: "My jewels! I've been robbed" - to emphasize the motif of a stealthy, prowling jewel thief (cat burglar) that had committed the crime, a black cat crossed a slatted, tiled rooftop at night.
  • the police chase (photographed from the air) of suspected cat burglar John "The Cat" Robie/Mr. Conrad Burns (Cary Grant) driving away and fleeing from his villa, although it was only a diversion
  • to escape, Robie boarded a bus to Cannes and sat in the rear seat, while he watched through the back window as detectives returned to his villa. He was squeezed on the bench seat between a cage containing two fluttering birds (enticing to a cat) and a portly passenger (director Hitchcock's cameo)

Diversionary Flight From Robie's Villa - Aerial View

Robie On Bus to Cannes - Seated Next to Director Hitchcock
  • once Robie reached Cannes in the French Riviera, he decided to investigate by himself and find the real thief who was imitating his crimes; he was alerted that the police had trailed him to a restaurant - he was helped to escape via speedboat by the smitten young, blonde daughter of the restaurant's wine steward, Danielle Foussard (Brigitte Auber)
  • while lounging on a hotel's beach, Robie (and the audience) had their first view of beautiful, lanky blonde Frances Stevens (Grace Kelly) in a turban and sunglasses who was applying sun-tan lotion; caught but then released on parole, Robie continued his investigation of the recent string of 'cat' burglaries; he was conveniently provided with a detailed list of names of heavily-insured clients with jewels - one of the names on the list was affluent, nouveau riche American widow - an oil millionairess named Mrs. Jessie Stevens (Jessie Royce Landis) who was traveling with her beautiful blonde daughter Frances and staying at the Carlton Hotel
  • to his surprise, after meeting Mrs. Stevens and her daughter for drinks, Robie escorted Frances, a pretty and quiet socialite, back to her hotel suite - and to his complete surprise, she unlocked her hotel room door, turned - and then after a warm glance into his eyes, she placed her arm around his shoulder and passionately kissed him (the kiss was initiated by her). Without a word, she then backed away, and shut her door. He slowly turned toward the camera with a satisfied smile on his lip-stick stained lips
An Unexpected Goodnight Kiss
  • the next morning during a breakfast scene, in one of the most memorable and vulgar images on screen, an exasperated Mrs. Stevens extinguished or stubbed out her lighted cigarette (a phallic symbol) in the yolk of a fried egg, while being warned about keeping her jewelry in her safe
  • Frances attracted attention in the hotel's foyer with Robie - when fashionably decked out in a high-necked, black bathing suit, oversized white sunhat, and white coverup; while Robie was reclining on a beach chair with Frances, Danielle caught Robie's attention in her bathing suit, and they swam out to the hotel's floating raft; Frances swam out and joined them, where they engaged in a verbal 'cat'-fight over Robie - she was obviously jealous of the cute, teenaged brunette Daniel
  • later, Frances invited Robie to join her for a picnic basket lunch and a drive in her open convertible sports car ("I have my car and a basket lunch with chicken and beer"). After a tense and swervy car ride to evade a pursuit car, she parked at a "lonely and secluded" picnic spot that she had picked out, overlooking the seaside town, where they shared the contents of her picnic basket placed on the front seat. (He sat on the floorboard with his legs out the open passenger door.) Their conversation was particularly saucy and filled with witty double entendres and sexy innuendo. When she passed him a beer, he asked: "You got an opener?"
  • in a famous provocatively-teasing line, Francie made an offer to Robie, referring to the fried chicken (and more) that she had brought on the picnic, causing him to do a double-take:

    Frances: "Do you want a leg or a breast?"
    Robie: "You make the choice."

  • another time in Frances' hotel suite, while real fireworks exploded through the open doors in the background (over the water in the night sky), other 'sexual' fireworks burst within the room between them - she had invitingly turned out the lights: "If you really want to see the fireworks, it's better with the lights out. I have a feeling that tonight, you're going to see one of the Riviera's most fascinating sights. I was talking about the fireworks....The way you looked at my necklace, I didn't know." Acting as an exploitative predator, she enticed him by displaying her white strapless gown and his main weakness - her sparkling, glistening diamond necklace as the ultimate prize (the word 'diamonds' also referred to her bare decolletage and breasts).
Robie Admiring Frances' Jewels
  • she asked if he was staring at her valuable necklace that he was frustratingly "unable to touch." "The thrill is right there in front of you, but you can't quite get it." She stroked her necklace and tantalizingly discussed the diamonds she was wearing. She encouraged him to extol the beauty of both her diamonds -- and her breasts.

    "Even in this light, I can tell where your eyes are looking. (He sat down next to her.) Look, John. Hold them. Diamonds. The only thing in the world you can't resist. Then tell me you don't know what I'm talking about. (She kissed his fingers, one by one, and then put her necklace in the palm of his hand.) Ever had a better offer in your whole life? One with everything?"

    He responded: "I've never had a crazier one." She purred: "Just as long as you're satisfied." He remarked about her fake diamond necklace: "You know as well as I do. This necklace is imitation," to which she replied: "Well, I'm not." (They kissed); the scene climaxed with the white-hot, orgasmic peak of the colorful fireworks exhibition bursting in a vibrant closeup in the night sky, illuminating the intensity of their kiss in the dark. The scene was one of filmdom's most blatantly-sexual images
  • after their very seductive encounter, Frances accused Robie of being responsible for the loss (theft) of her mother's jewels (and her own sexual loss of virginity): "Give them back to me...Mother's jewels!"; Robie confessed her identity ("My name is John Robie. I used to be a jewel thief several years ago"), but denied stealing Mrs. Stevens' jewels; however, later in the film, Frances apologized for accusing him of being the thief - and confessed that she loved him ("I'M IN LOVE WITH YOU") and would help find the real burglar
Robie's Capture of the Real Cat Burglar
  • in the film's conclusion after a costume ball, Robie tracked the real cat from the villa's rooftop during the evening; he noticed a black-clad figure exiting a window and traversing the rooftop - he froze, spied the figure, and then chased after it; Robie caught up to the masked thief - grabbed the person - and unmasked DANIELLE; a light was directed toward the rooftop and caught Robie in the spotlight, but he finally proved he was innocent and revealed the real masked copycat thief - young blonde Danielle Foussard, who fell and dangled from the roof's gutter until she confessed that her father Foussard (Jean Martinelli) and restauranteur Bertani (Charles Vanel) had planned all of the robberies [Note: Danielle was the daughter of the head waiter at Bertani's restaurant].
  • in the final short scene set at Robie's Cote d'Azur villa, Frances (still wearing her gold gown from the costume ball) urged and pressured Robie into declaring his love for her; he obliged her by repeating what she had dictated to him: "Without you, I couldn't have done. I needed the help of a woman. I guess I'm not the lone wolf I thought I was, Francie"; as they were about to say goodbye, he pulled her arm toward him for an embrace and kiss; Frances had finally nabbed him - as she noted in the last line: "So this is where you live. Oh, Mother will love it up here!"

"My jewels! I've been robbed"

The View of an Actual Black Cat on a Rooftop - a Symbol of a 'Cat Burglar'


Robie with Blonde Danielle (Brigitte Auber)

First View of Frances Stevens (Grace Kelly)

Drinks with Jesse and Frances

Extinguished Cigarette in Egg Yolk

Frances in Hotel Foyer

Verbal "Cat"-Fight Between Danielle and Frances at the Hotel's Floating Raft





The Picnic Question:
Leg or Breast?





The Explosive Kissing-Fireworks Sequence


Frances to Robie: "I'm in love with you"




Robie and Frances Together in the Closing

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