Virginie over at The Wonderful World of Cinema is hosting this blogathon about Grace Kelly. Be sure to visit her site to read all of the entries. I can’t wait to read them all myself.
Grace Kelly was many things in her life and she has come to mean different things to different people. She has become a fashion and beauty icon over the years.
Grace famously went from being a fairly ordinary American woman to becoming a real life Princess in 1956, when she left her family and career behind to marry Prince Rainier of Monaco. Many people have since come to know Grace through her work and life as a Princess.
Most of us have come to know Grace through her work as a film actress. Grace was a very good actress, and while I personally think that she perhaps wasn’t the best actress of her generation, she was without a doubt certainly a very good one. Besides being talented, Grace also had that magical star quality so necessary for a successful screen career. Grace shone when she was on screen, she has that effect which means you can’t take your eyes off her when she is on the screen.
I like how Grace often portrayed a vulnerability in many of her characters. Her characters would often put up a tough façade, but in reality they were women who could be easily hurt, or were women who felt things deeply. Grace portrayed all this so well through her eyes and expressions.
Alfred Hitchcock was the director who gave Grace the film roles which brought her great fame, and forever cemented her screen image in the minds of audiences. Hitchcock knew how to use Grace to best effect on screen. Through her collaboration with Hitch, Grace’s screen image changed from cool, demure, vulnerable and gentle love interest, to strong, sexy, elegant and confident leading lady.
Hitch also played around with Grace’s aloof and cool persona. Hitchcock gave Grace roles which played up that cool image, but then showed us that underneath that perceived image she was very different. We see that she can be warm, feisty, sensual, sexy and very human too.
I’m writing about To Catch A Thief which is the third and final film that Grace and Hitch made together. The film was made in 1955, and it was shot out on location in the South of France and in Monaco (soon to be Grace’s future home). In a horrible twist of fate, the stretch of road that Grace’s character drives down at speed in order to make John uncomfortable, is the same one on which Grace would have her fatal car accident many years later.
This film may lack the suspense of the majority of other Hitchcock films, but it certainly features some interesting characters, lots of innuendo (just how did some of this make it past the censors!)beautiful costumes (especially those worn by Grace)and the photography of the stunning locations is truly a pleasure to look at. This is a film that I love quite a bit. It isn’t a traditional Hitchcock film in terms of its content and visual style, but the sexual innuendo and the developing relationship between Grace and Cary Grant’s characters is classic Hitch for sure.
Cary and Grace on location in the sunshine. Image source IMDb.
Grace looks truly stunning in this film. She is at the height of her beauty here, and she gets to wear some of the most beautiful and elegant gowns I’ve ever seen. I especially love the pale blue evening gown she wears in the hotel restaurant. Edith Head truly outdid herself with her costume designs for this film. I love how Grace plays her character Francie. This woman is in control of everything she does and she very well knows it. She is strong, sexy and really oozes confidence and determination. She can also be wild and uncontrollable which really gives her an air of danger at times.
I love the car chase sequence, where Francie’s fast driving really scares John as he ends up becoming a helpless passenger. Francie also plays with John(like a cat would with a mouse or a bird)but he gets wise to her games and he plays with her right back (cue some classic banter between the two).
A series of jewel robberies are taking place across the French Riviera. The robberies bear a strong resemblance to the work of the notorious jewel thief known as The Cat. The real name of The Cat is John Robie (Cary Grant)and John knows very well that he is not the one behind the current thefts. Once he is alerted that someone else is thieving using his signature style, he sets out to catch the culprit himself and to clear his own name.
John soon begins to receive threats on his life. John also has to deal with the beautiful American heiress, Francie (Grace Kelly)and her mother Jessie (Jessie Royce Landis)who are on holiday in Cannes and befriend him. John and Francie have an instant attraction, but John grows suspicious of her when she asks too many questions about thieving, and especially when she claims to know he is the famous cat burglar.
John also has issues with some former friends/colleagues from the French Resistance. He also has to deal with Danielle (Brigitte Auber)who is a local girl he has known for years, who has a huge crush on him. John enlists the help of an insurance man (John Williams)to set a trap for the thief. Together they create a list of the most wealthy jewel owners in the Riviera. Who can John trust? Just who is The Cat?
This film is less about its plot, and instead is more about the beautiful locations, and also the sexual tension and desire between Francie and John. Cary and Grace have incredible chemistry with one another, their innuendo laced dialogue is truly shocking in places, just how did some of those lines( especially the one about a week at Niagara Falls) even get past the censor?
I didn’t see the identity of the copycat thief coming until it was revealed. Having said that though this revelation just lacked a big shock for me. I think the film would have been more exciting if Francie had been revealed to be the burglar. It would have placed John in a predicament as to whether he should hand her in, or if he could attack her back if she attacked him.
When I first saw this film I was convinced that it would be Francie who would be revealed as the copycat thief. I felt that she was playing Robie at his own game and having fun. Having said all that though, I do think that reveal would have been too obvious given how Francie acts earlier in the film.
This is an enjoyable film that is also so very beautiful to look at. In this film we get to see the wealthy and the beautiful having fun in a beautiful place. It makes us dream that we could have such a life too. Be sure to see this film on Blu-ray to see it looking clear and to see the colour photography at its most stunning.
Grace and Cary are both superb here and the rest of the cast all deliver solid performances too. Jessie Royce Landis is hysterical as Francie’s mother who develops a crush on John herself.
The beach sequences always make me want to visit the beach, and I envy Grace every single time I watch this because of the gorgeous outfits she gets to wear throughout the film.This one is certainly worth a look for fans of Grace, Hitchcock and Cary. It’s not the best Hitchcock film, but it’s certainly not the worst either.
My favourite scenes are the following. John and Francie sharing a kiss at her hotel room door. The fireworks and jewels scene between John and Francie. Francie and Danielle’s rather catty conversation out on the sea float (I love Cary’s facial expressions during this scene, it is so funny).
Any other fans of this film? What are your thoughts on Grace’s performance here?
Here are my five favourite Grace Kelly films.
1- High Society
2- To Catch A Thief
3- Rear Window
4-The Country Girl