Owing to the lightness of its tone, To Catch a Thief has tended to be viewed as one of Alfred Hitchcock’s lesser movies. Oh, some of his more ardent European admirers have tried to turn the fairly stock comedy character of Jessie Royce Landis as Grace Kelly’s mother into some kind of condemnation of rich Americans, but it really doesn’t stick since American comedies bubble over with essentially the same kind of mother. The real question is whether there’s anything wrong with a Hitchcock picture being mere entertainment. I’m saying no — especially, since that’s obviously the intent of a movie advertised with, “WANTED by the police in all the luxury-spots of Europe!… A catch for any woman!.” This is strictly a romantic suspense mystery relying on showing two pretty stars — Cary Grant and Grace Kelly — in pretty locations. On that basis, it’s nearly perfect — and it might have crossed over into that realm if it hadn’t been for Hitch’s heavy reliance on placing his glamorous stars against painfully obvious rear-screen projections of those glamorous locations. Most times, Hitch could get away with this, but here it’s pretty distracting and it dates the film. However, the engaging plot and the presence of Grant and Kelly — along with Hitchcock’s sense of style — carry the day, making for one terrific entertainment.
Pack Memorial Library will screen To Catch a Thief Tuesday, May 21 at 3 p.m.