on May 18, 2007
After reading the gushing, swooning review from the DVD critic in last Tuesday's NY Times, I immediately ordered the "Special Collector's Edition" of TO CATCH A THIEF from Amazon. When it arrived, I compared it to my original Paramount "Widescreen Edition" from 2002. Well, the critic was right--there's simply no comparison. This new version has a 2.0 Dolby Surround soundtrack (in addition to the original mono version) and a cleaned-up, enhanced, crystal-clear picture, start to finish. It looks like they took the drab, blurry, faded old stock and actually washed it, removing years of dirt and grime and smoke and hair and whatever else was there, not to mention a computerized removal of virtually all scratches and glitches. The result is astounding.
As for the color, see for yourself. Pay close attention to the first car chase down the mountain, the meeting in the flower market, and the costume ball near the end. Not to mention the many night scenes on rooftops, where everything is now much more visible than before. And Grant and Kelly? Well, the two most beautiful people who ever lived look even more beautiful. Wait till you see the famous fireworks scene now!
I don't have to tell you that this film is wonderful, no matter which version you have. But I can guarantee you that this newly restored version makes it seem better than ever. If you're as nuts about Hitchcock as I am, it really is worth the upgrade. Enjoy!
Update (11/8/2009): The new To Catch a Thief - The Centennial Collection (1955) (2pc) is essentially the same as the 2007 "Special Collector's Edition," with the same upgraded print. This review applies to both editions.
on May 9, 2007
Is there a difference in this latest version of this DVD release? Or is it simply a marketing "repackage"? There is a difference!
In my opinion, the DVD transfer of this "Special Collector's Edition" is far superior to the original DVD release. In a side-by-side comparison, I was amazed to see the job that was performed on this restoration. While, the original DVD contains plenty of dirt, scratches, conversion-related distortion/noise, etc., the Special Collector's Edition looks nearly pristine.
There are plenty of scenes in the movie where I experienced, how can I describe it, the illusion of depth and/or three-dimensional effect.
This version will certainly replace my original copy.
This travel brochure to adventure and romance is one of Alfred Hitchcock's most entertaining films. The gorgeous vistas of the French Riviera are matched perfectly by the stunning duo of Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. Robert Burks' cinematography was nominated for an Academy Award and Edith Head gives Grace Kelly the look of an American princess. A fine screenplay from Michael Hayes based on a novel by David Dodge, and a light romantic score from Lyn Murray combine with all the other elements to make this a true film classic.
American John Robie (Cary Grant) has been living well in a beautiful villa on the French Riviera for the past 15 years. Once the most notorious thief in France, the man known as "The Cat" has been quiet for many years. He was in prison during the war when the Germans bombed it. He chose to stay and fight with the French Resistance upon his escape, and became a legend. It led to his parole, which is rather precarious now that a string of jewel robberies mimicking his exact style are occuring on the rooftops of the rich.
The French police want him for it, and his old pals are angry that he's brought them this unwanted attention after all these years. Since the only way to clear himself is to catch the thief himself, he hooks up with an insurance agent whose company is paying out the claims on all the robberies and begins a game of cat and mouse with the thief. The cheese in the trap is the delicious Grace Kelly.
Francie Stevens (Kelly) and her mother, Jessie (Jesse Royce Landis), are vacationing on the Riviera. Robie, posing as a lumber tycoon from Oregon, wants to keep they and their diamonds company until the thief strikes. Francie throws off his game, however, when she learns early on who he really is and displays a wild enthusiasm for helping him steal! Robie isn't there to steal, of course, but has trouble convincing Francie of that when her mother's jewels are stolen. Coming on the heels of a romantic interlude between the two, it is especially insulting.
That evening together is framed beautifully by Hitchcock, cutting back and forth between the fireworks outside on the Riviera and the fireworks going on inside. Kelly is like a playful kitten with a gleam in her eye, and Grant the older cat, who's seen her kind of kitten before and isn't sure he wants to play. There is a wonderful chemistry between the two, who seemed to be made for each other on the screen. A wild ride in her sports car along the coast that has Robie a little worried and a picnic in elegant dress are a treat to watch.
Complicating matters is another sexy kitten, Danielle Foussard (Brigitte Auber). She is the daughter of one of his old pals (Jean Martinelli) and would like nothing better than to run off with Robie to South America. But she is a different kind of kitten, perhaps harder to handle than Francie. When her father is murdered and pegged as the thief, she lashes out at Robie at his funeral. By this time, Francie's wise mom has set her straight about Robie, and together they set a trap for the real thief at a posh costume ball.
It will lead to an exciting and entertaining chase on the rooftops as Robie unmasks the imposter. Since he's enlisted Francie's help this time, he is forced to admit he may not be the lone wolf he thought he was. There is a terrific conclusion as everyone gets what they want, especially the viewer. Look quick for Hitch on the back seat of the bus Grant uses to evade the police! This is elegant escapist entertainment that you can't help but fall in love with. A marvelous film to get lost in on any weekend.
Beautiful, well-casted and a classic romantic, suspenseful thriller from Alfred Hitchcock.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"TO CATCH A THIEF" looks great for a 1955 film on DVD. One thing that Hitchcock really utilized on this film is color. From the beauty of France, set design, costume design. Everything was well done and vibrant. The film looks beautiful and is featured in Widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TV's.
As for the audio, audio is presented in Dolby Digital English 2.0 Surround/English, French and Spanish Mono.
As for subtitles, subtitles are in English, French and Spanish.
There are a good number of special features on the Centennial Collection of "TO CATCH A THIEF" with a few new featurettes plus the previous features included in the 2007 DVD release. The majority of the special features are included on the second disc (commentary on the first disc). Included are:
* Commentary: - The Centennial Collection forgoes the original commentary featured on the 2007 DVD by Peter Bogdanovich and Laurent Bouzereau and now features commentary by Dr. Drew Casper, Hitchcock Prof. of American Film at USC who definitely knows his Hitchcock (even Hitchcock's family are surprised with his knowledge for the "A Night With the Hitchcock" events). Casper is passionate about the filming and his commentary is just informative and well-done.
* A Night with the Hitchcock's - A new 23-minute featurette filmed on Nov. 2008 at the University of Southern California (USC). The Hitchcock class is one of the most popular classes at the university and the family has come to these events for several years answering questions from students in regards to Alfred Hitchcock as a director and also insight of his family life. Pat Hitchcock (daughter of Alfred Hitchcock), Mary Stone (granddaughter of Alfred Hitchcock) and moderated by Dr. Drew Casper, Hitchcock Prof. of American Film at USC. Very informative and enjoyable to learn about the family life of Alfred Hitchcock.
* Unacceptable Under the Code: Film Censorship in America - A new near 12-minute featurette about the strict restrictions imposed on the film industry, this film shows how Alfred Hitchcock would find ways to work around the censorship code.
* Writing and Casting To Catch a Thief - A nine minute featurette about the film, the screenplay and casting Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. Original featurette from the 2007 DVD release.
* The Making of To Catch a Thief - A near 17-minute featurette about the making of the film, shooting in the US at the Paramount lot and shooting in France. Interview with Hitchcock's daughter Mary Stone who gives insight of the film, especially the challenges of filming the kissing and beach scenes which the censorship code wanted eliminated from the film but how Hitchcock created the film to ensure that the scenes stayed in the film. Interviews with production manager Dock Erickson who provides technical insight and using VistaVision. Interviews with Steven DeRosa, author of "Writing with Hitchcock" who shared his knowledge about Hitchcock and interviews with Pat Hitchcock in regards to Edith Head's fashion designs for the film and much more. An original feature used on the 2007 release.
* Behind the Gates: Cary Grant and Grace Kelly - A new six minute featurette about the film featuring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly and how these two had instant chemistry together on screen.
* Alfred Hitchcock and To Catch a Thief: An Appreciation - This seven minute featurette is about the humor of Alfred Hitchcock and how Grace Kelly and Hitchcock were good friends. Mary Stone (Hitchcock's granddaughter) discussing her personal experiences with her grandfather including working with him on a college paper about a film they both enjoyed and getting a C and more. Originally featured in the 2007 DVD release of "TO CATCH A THIEF".
* Edith Head: The Paramount Years - A 13-minute featurette featuring Edith Head known for her costumes for "Columbia Pictures" and the many memorable films that she took part in.
* Trailers: - Original Theatrical Trailer (2:11)
* If You Love To Catch Thief, You'll Love this Interactive Travelogue - A segment that allows people to see a map of the French Riviera. When you click on one of the nine cities featured on the map, you get to see parts of the film while a narrator talks about the city and its surroundings.
* Galleries - A section to see image galleries for the movie, publicity, visitors to the set and production.
And like previous Centennial Collections from Paramount, a booklet is included with information and tidbits about the film and its stars and also a cardboard slipcase that holds the DVD/case.
There are plenty of Hitchcock films that I would love to see receive a "Centennial Collection" treatment but it'll probably never happen since "TO CATCH A THIEF" is the only Hitchcock film that Paramount still owns (note: the company sold all rights back to Hitchcock in the 1960's which now, the majority of his films are distributed by Universal). But if anything, with this being the sole Hitchcock film owned by Paramount, they really did give an awesome "Centennial Collection" tribute to Alfred Hitchcock with the number of special features included on this DVD. The new features are just great, especially the interviews with his daughter Pat and granddaughter Mary who give us this personal side of Alfred Hitchcock.
"TO CATCH A THIEF" is one of those films that showcase a side of Alfred Hitchcock that doesn't go dark or hardcore into the suspense. In fact, the film is quite beautiful with the amount of cinema work done in France and thus you really get beautiful cinematography during the outdoor scenes.
The chemistry between Cary Grant and Grace Kelly was just well done. Knowing that before Grant took the part, he was set on retirement and felt his career was pretty much done but it was that keen eye of Alfred Hitchcock that wanted these two together and he did what he could to get him to accept the role of John Robie. Grace Kelly, a favorite actress that Hitchcock would have in several of his film (and this film would be her last for him before comitting to her duties as Princess of Monaco) was just absolutely dashing and charming. Both talents just clicked.
Of course, part of the beauty of the film is that it utilized the Technicolor technology, VistaVision for its widescreen shots (Hitchcock's first utilization of the technology in his films) and utilized stereophonic for audio. The film won an Academy Award for "Best Cinematography" and the film is quite deserving. In fact, watching it again, I'm just amazed at the beautiful shots in the film. Well done!
For those who purchased the 2007 DVD, many may wonder if the "Centennial Collection" is worth it? I own the 2007 version but it all depends on the viewer. If the three extra special features and the new commentary are worth it. Personally, I found the added footage and commentary to be well worth it. Dr. Drew Casper's knowledge of Hitchcock is just incredible and his commentary is absolutely well-done and again, "A Night With the Hitchcock's" was just a pleasure to watch. So, yes...this Centennial Collection version is worth it!
Overall, this "Centennial Collection" for "TO CATCH A THIEF" is another solid DVD release for Paramount's collection. Personally, I would love to see these Centennial Collections in Blu-ray but for now, this DVD is just the definitive version to own.
Although, not my favorite Hitchcock film, as I'm more into his more suspenseful and psychological thrillers, I've always enjoyed "TO CATCH A THIEF" for it's overall presentation and the talent involved onscreen but watching this DVD and its special features, it gave me more of an appreciation towards this film.
This film is, to me, is Hitchcock's most passionate and strikingly beautiful looking films that he has ever done so far.
The film is elegant, beautiful and memorable and the many special features included really does give tribute to one of the world's most prolific director's ever.
Alfred Hitchcock fans, "TO CATCH A THIEF - CENTENNIAL COLLECTION" is highly recommended!
"To Catch a Thief" is the 3rd of a quartet of Hitchcock films that starred Cary Grant. This film has just about everything going for it and is a personal favorite of mine, one which I have viewed many times over many years now. I love this movie!
With that said, this review will focus on the actual video and sound quality rather than the film itself so you the reader can decide whether this Blu Ray disc is a good upgrade from your standard VHS or DVD version (of which there are more than a few) .
This film is packaged in an ultra cheapo 'Eco Case' (I HATE them) and mine came with a cardboard slipcover that Paramount defaced with a sticker touting a contest they are running. (thanks Paramount) The disc is a 50Gig with a plain one color/etched surface similar to other Paramount titles.
Simply put, the image quality of "To Catch a Thief" is STUNNING on this Blu Ray transfer. Shot in VistaVision back in 1955 (the year I was born) we are treated here to a visual FEAST. The visuals truly POP with both excellent resolution and vibrant color and much of the time it is so good that a three dimensional effect occurs while watching. I actually experienced depth of field in many scenes to the point where it was almost disorienting at first. Even after reading all the current great reviews for this disc I wasn't fully prepared for what awaited me.
Color timing is spot on. Just GREAT! No encoding artifacts are noticeable and the print itself has been beautifully cleaned and scanned. Yes you will get some grain and softness in the composited shots (rear projection scenes, etc.) but nothing nearly as bad as the effects shots in Ten Commandments on Blu. In motion the transfer shines as well. Things are smooth! I detect no over-usage of sharpening or DNR and there is detail to spare in almost every scene.
Check out the wipsy blonde hair on Grace Kelly's arms, hereto unseen.... The coarse black hair on Cary Grant's knuckles are fully resolved. If only he didn't wear stripes during the first third of the film! (Parallel lines and fog/mist/smoke are the pitfalls of digital and have yet to be properly rendered IMO no matter what player or processor you use to feed your display)
There is one 15 to 20 second moment when the source switches obviously to SD as Cary,Grace and Jessie come down the stairs in their party costumes, blown up and grainy/blurry as heck, then right back to crystal clear. Apparently that one small piece of film was destroyed or badly damaged and they had to substitute this inferior rendering to keep things from becoming choppy and missing a KEY line... otherwise this transfer really doesn't ever drop the ball!
The bit /data transfer rate is VERY high and it shows on screen. My hat is off to the team that prepared this film for Blu Ray. They did a SUPER job!
The best way for me to describe the picture is to say it bests the very best James Bond 'Lowry' restorations from the 60's. Granted by only a few notches, but this transfer bests "From Russia With Love" which is an achievement in itself!
Ok, the picture totally rocks, how about the sound? You get numerous audio options including a good DolbyTruHD Stereo mix which is very good. Also the original MONO is offered in lossless DolbyTruHD as well. I found the MONO to sound very flat and lifeless compared to the reworked Stereo track so I watched using the Stereo option and let my receiver convert it into Dolby ProLogic II for pseudo surround effects. It worked perfectly and sounded great. You can hear everything that is said with ease. With the enhanced resolution you can also notice every time an actor has been dubbed by someone else or by themselves in post production. The music is full of life and more vibrant than I have ever heard it. Lyn Murray's score sounds very much Bernard Herrmann and I had to keep reminding myself it wasn't, but that is a good thing as it fits Hitchcock to a tee!
While not being as noticeably great as the video, the sound on this disc is as good as it could possibly be and I was more than satisfied with it. It is a large step up from the DVD and as good as we will ever get in this lifetime, of that I am sure! Kudos go to the audio engineers for a great job on the soundtrack!
Bonus features abound on this disc and frankly I am surprised they could fit them in with so much space already used by the high bit rate transfer. You get eight documentaries of varying length (some are very short but all are interesting), a commentary by Drew Casper, noted film historian and Hitchcock aficionado, and some great Photo Galleries presented in luscious 1080p which you can capture on your computer for some super wallpapers or prints. Of course the original theatrical trailer has been included as well.
Bottom line, even if this disc contained NONE of the bonus features and shipped in a plain white paper sleeve, I would have gladly paid much more than the current asking price. "To Catch a Thief" on Blu Ray rewards Cary Grant fans for their patience and gives us THE BEST video quality of ANY of his movies currently released. I own them all (Charade, An Affair to Remember, Notorious and North by Northwest) and find it hard to imagine any of his films looking any better than this one does. I would venture to say this is one Blu Ray transfer even Hitchcock would gladly approve of! I know I do! My VERY HIGEST recommendation!
on September 6, 2012
Let me first start off with an Amazon gripe. It's really annoying that Amazon lumps all reviews for the same title together, regardless of the format of the release. Since many high def fans are especially interested in the quality of a blu-ray release vs. the DVD this is pretty terrible practice. Shame Amazon!
OK, now on to the review. While I am not, in general, a big classic movie buff, I do have my favorites and I do love me some Hitchcock. I've had the very poor quality DVD transfer of Hitchcock's classic thriller "To Catch a Thief" for quite a long time and my wife and I had started watching it recently (while I gritted my teeth at the terrible picture quality on my wonderful 65" plasma) when I decided to check to see if it was ever going to be released on Blu-Ray. Of course I discovered it was already OUT on Blu-ray and I ordered it right away (we also turned off the DVD and decided to wait).
So, how good of a job has the studio done with this classic? They have done an outstanding job and I don't say that very often. Color and contrast look remarkable for a film of this age (nearly 60 years!), in fact, this film looks much better than many much much newer blu-ray releases.
I see virtually no dirt or scratches on the print, and while a few shots intentionally have soft focus, I don't see signs of edge enhancement on the numerous shots that have razor sharp focus of the principal actors. You've never seen Cary Grant and Grace Kelly look quite this good before folks. If you want a real visual treat, go straight to the "party scene" near the end of the film... my jaw was literally open for about 10 straight minutes because it looks THAT GOOD on my calibrated television.
So, why did I ding this a star? I don't feel that the audio track got quite the same treatment. While it is evident that some work was done to clean up hiss and improve the audio fidelity, the audio in general sounds flat for a release of this caliber. I would have really liked it, if in addition to the original 2-channel mix, they treated us to a new multi-channel mix to fully exercise our surround sound systems. I think that this film in particular would have benefited here.
All in all though, it's almost impossible to find any fault... this is an absolute MUST HAVE if you are a Hitchcock fan, a Grace Kelly or Cary Grant fan, or if you simply want some amazing reference material to use to show off the picture quality of your TV or projector.
on January 2, 2003
After reading some of the customer reviews here on Amazon.com, I almost didn't purchase this DVD. "To Catch A Thief" is one of my favorite Hitchcock movies of all time (yes, I know it's not "Vertigo", "Rear Window" or "North By Northwest" -- but "To Catch A Thief" wasn't supposed to be serious, it was simply Hitch & some friends having fun!), and I already owned the video. So when I read that the DVD was little improved from the admittedly poor video, I opted not to buy it. Then my video went south, and I was forced to a DVD purchase.
Imagine my happy surprise when the colors leaped off the screen at me, when the crispness of the pictures knocked my socks off!! Wow!! Whoever wrote that this DVD is "washed out" probably needs a new TV. Granted, I'd love to see this movie digitally remastered -- and soon!! -- but until that happens this DVD is a far better version of this movie than any I've ever seen. I am unfortunately too young to have seen the original in the theatres, but I'd have to guess that this DVD comes pretty close. I'm frankly thrilled with it!!
Cary Grant is wonderful, Grace Kelly is divine, the supporting cast (especially John Williams and Jessie Royce Landis) get their chops in, and a good time is had by one and all. And even beyond the stunning visuals, the scintillating dialogue and clever wordplay are easily worth the price of the movie! Don't look for Hitch's usual suspense or intrigue here; there's relatively little of those to be had. Rather, think of "To Catch A Thief" more as a very stylish romantic comedy, filmed in the inimitable Hitchcock fashion.
My vote is four stars -- a very worthy effort, and a happy new purchase, but still a movie that could stand a serious remastering!! If that ever happens, I'll buy that DVD, too!! (That's a hint.)
on March 7, 2012
It's like watching an original print on the Big Screen in a movie theater - it's equal to the Blu-ray quality of "The Searchers"; i.e. *cannot* be any better. What is it about 35mm films of the mid-1950s that lends them to such remarkable transfers?
on April 12, 2003
What a great experience it has been to watch this long-cherished Hitchcock film, on DVD format, thus watching it in full glory, Widescreen (Vistavision), with crisp, sharp images, brilliant colors, etc....after of years of watching faded, full screen prints on TV. On top of this, you get excellent bonuses: excellent documentaries, comments, still galleries,... What more can I say? Paramount is doing its best with their classics!...
Top performances by the very attractive two leads' (Kelly and Grant)....in fact Kelly never looked so ravishing and gorgeous than here, only perhaps in "The Swan" (1956)....being one the most sensual, elegant and beautiful women of all time....a Real Goddess-come-to-earth.....How can someone so perfect did ever exist!And besides talented!Grant his usual man-of-the-world, excellent timing, top actor and comedian.
Great support by the wonderful character actor John Williams and by everybody's favorite sophisticated mother: Jessie Royce Landis (although here she plays a woman of humble origins who became rich because of Oil being found in her Oklahoma Ranch-anyway she looks and behaves like a Queen) and by French grand actor Charles Vanel.
And what about those great landscapes of the South of France (Cannes, Monaco, Côte D'Azûr,...), breathtaking!!
Vintage Hollywood Classic.
on April 20, 2007
This movie is pure entertainment. Hitchcock loved Grace Kelly, Cary Grant, food and the south of France, and it all shows here. They must have had a wonderful time making this terrific film and we are lucky to have this record of it.
Grace Kelly must have been about 25, pristinely lovely as a white gardenia in full bloom. She's more than just a beautiful blond though and brings something of charm and intelligence of the mature woman she is on the verge of becoming. (Too bad she married that playboy prince and ruined it all...but that's another story.) Cary Grant, ultra tan as was the fashion at that time, is still very handsome and, at 50, is almost mesmerizingly charming. The chemistry between the two, despite the age difference, is terrific. At first Grant holds back, being a gentleman, but Kelly pursues and at the end, she catches her thief.
To me this is more of a love story than a mystery and I didn't care in the least who the real cat burglar was...but maybe that's cuz I am a woman.
The censorship of the 50's was much more strict than in our times, which, I think, heightened the charm of the romance. Alone together in her hotel room, with Kelly looking like a goddess from the moon in her white chiffon dress, one wonders how Grant can keep his cool for as long as he does. When they finally kiss (!) we are treated to shots of fireworks through the balcony window. It may sound corny but it is tremendously effective and very sweet. Bring back Romance!
The visuals are splendid--there's plenty of beauty to fill up every screen, whether it's shots of the blue blue sea, French chefs in mile-high hats or a flower market filled with pink and red blooms. The costumes are lavish. In the opening credits, a travel poster brags, "If you love life, you'll love France!" I think that pretty much sums up this picture.