Alfred Hitchcock went a little soft in 1955, giving Cary Grant a largely throwaway role as a reformed cat burglar living incognito in the south of France. Hitch would really put Grant through the ringer in 1959’s North by Northwest.
Here, though, Grant’s enjoying a day in the sun – and night – as he tries to track down the villain that’s giving him a bad name. You see, John Robie (Cary Grant) is retired. But some young upstart is stealing his M.O. — and the new cat’s eyes are on Robie’s new would-be girlfriend, Frances (Grace Kelly), and her mom (Jessie Royce Landis).
Unfortunately, the real cat is pretty obvious from the get-go, and the ending, with Robie apprehending the cat atop a rooftop, is about as tepid as Hitchcock ever got. Thankfully, this movie is full of style – even if Grant is sleepwalking through his performance – with gorgeous vistas and beautiful sets. Of course, having Grace Kelly in your movie (this is the one during which she met the Prince of Monaco) never hurts. Hitchcock’s signature is all over this one, from a scene in which a cigarette is snuffed out in an egg (Hitch hated the things) to his riding in the back of a bus, a seatmate with Grant.
Too bad the clever plotting in otherwise similar works like Northwest isn’t quite there. This one’s all style (and tons of it), but little substance.
The new DVD features a crisp widescreen transfer and four featurettes about the making of the film. A documentary about Hitchcock regular , costume designer Edith Head – one of the most Oscar-winning people of all time – is worth a peek.
Climb every rooftop.
© 2002 filmcritic.com