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To Catch A Thief DVD

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To Catch a Thief is not one of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest, but it's arguably his most stylish thriller, loved as much for the elegantly erotic banter between Grace Kelly and Cary Grant as for the suspense that ensues when retired burglar Grant attempts to net the copycat diamond thief. The action, much of it shot on location, hugs the coast of the French Riviera; John Michael Hayes' screenplay crackles with doubles entendres; and Edith Head's dresses define the aloof poise of one of cinema's more enigmatic icons. If anything is missing, it's the undertow of black humour which snags the unsuspecting viewer in so many of Hitchcock's greater films. Here, the edge is supplied by the splendid Jessie Royce Landis as Kelly's vulgar, worldly mother; her special way with a fried egg is one of those cinematic moments which linger in the mind with almost pornographic disgust. History, of course, delivered its own ironic blow years later when the then Princess Grace of Monaco died in an accident on the very road where Kelly and Grant shot their exhilarating car chase. Portents aside, she remains Hitchcock's most alluring and sophisticated heroine. On the DVD: To Catch a Thief is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, which distils the distinctive qualities of the VistaVision cinematography, and with a mono Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Interesting extras include several mini-documentaries in which Hitchcock's daughter and granddaughter, among others, reminisce about the great director, censor problems over the risqué dialogue, the talents of costume designer Edith Head, and the peculiar difficulties of shooting in VistaVision. An original theatrical trailer is another bonus. --Piers Ford

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