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To Catch a Thief Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Audio Codec: 2.0 Stereo Dolby TrueHD; Mono Dolby TrueHD
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
  • Region: A (B? C?)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1
  • Run Time: 106 Mins.
  • Studio: Paramount Home Media Distribution
  • Blu-ray Release Date: March 6, 2012
  • List Price: $22.99

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Purchase To Catch a Thief on Blu-ray at CD Universe

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4/5]

There are gorgeous films and then there are gorgeous films. Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief certainly belongs in that select group, earning an Oscar for Best Cinematography.  But this movie is much more than another pretty face. The cast is truly blessed. Cary Grant (John Robie) and Grace Kelly (Francie Stevens) provide an ineffably beautiful screen couple but, most importantly, generate great chemistry. Jessie Royce Landis (Jessie Stevens, Francie’s mother), and the ultra-suave English actor John Williams (H. H. Hughston, insurance agent) add lighthearted costar performances. The backdrop of Cannes, France should have gotten supporting role credits since it turns the proceedings into a visual feast.  Not to forget the screenwriters who have crafted a witty script with more double entendres per minute than most films have ever dreamed of. As mysteries go, the story has the usual twists and turns. A reformed jewel thief, Grant becomes involved with American heiress Kelly  in an investigation of, shock and awe, jewel robberies on the French Riviera. There are plenty of exciting car chases along the narrow, twisting, and scenic Riviera roads. Jewelry freaks will be delighted to get an endless display of trinkets. But the real gems of this picture are the copious close ups of Grace Kelly, an unending feast for viewers’ eyes.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

As this is a 1955 film, I was completely caught off guard by the quality of the close ups. This is a somewhat double-edged sword since it highlights Grace Kelly’s flawless complexion and Cary Grant’s unrealistically dark tan (did the makeup artists use shoe polish?). That said, there are not a lot of films of this vintage that replay as well as this one.  Although some of the panoramic scenes are not razor-sharp, as are the often CGI-aided quality of newer films, the image quality is never less than good and, for the most part, outstanding.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3/5]

There is only so much you can do with many soundtracks of this era. The stereo 2.0 Dolby TrueHD offers a boxy, and clearly upfront presentation. However, given the other available soundtrack options, this is as good as it gets.  Dialogue, an essential component to the realization of this film, is crisp and clear. Not to worry, I did not miss the surround effects or throbbing low frequency sound waves. To Catch a Thief does not need any of these elements to get its point across.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4/5]

Can I get an Amen for supplements? Besides commentaries by Dr. Drew Casper, Hitchcock Film Historian, there are nine (count them, nine) other extras:

  1. A Night with the Hitchcocks
  2. Unacceptable Under the Code: Film Censorship in America
  3. 3. Writing and Casting To Catch a Thief
  4. Behind the Gates: Cary Grant and Grace Kelly
  5. 5. Alfred Hitchcock and  To Catch a Thief
  6. Edith Head: The Paramount Years
  7. If You Love  To Catch a Thief, You’ll Love This Interactive Travelogue
  8. Theatrical Trailer
  9. Galleries

Compared to the short shrift of many reissues, these are bonuses galore. Younger viewers who are unfamiliar with the principals and the director,  will benefit from these well-crafted featurettes. The study of censorship during the 1950s was also addressed by Otto Preminger in a supplement to his Anatomy of a Murder.  This was an important constraint on film-making of the era and will be an eye-opener to many in today’s audience. Please take the time to view these extras and, most of all, to enjoy them.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Park any reservations at the door, To Catch a Thief is one great watch. Grace Kelly made very few films and retired a year after shooting this film, following her marriage to Prince Rainier. Monaco’s gain was Hollywood’s loss since Kelly shows an unerring comedic talent and luminous screen presence. Co-star Grant has deft control of the leading man persona and takes to comedy like a duck to water. Considering what passes for comic presentation in today’s cinema, he delivers a performance that should be mandatory viewing for all aspiring actors. There is also something to be said for clever, articulate dialogue without profanity or incoherence as the give-and-take between Grant and Kelly amply demonstrates. Director Hitchcock’s knowing hand makes all aspects of this film come together and exploits the scenic landscape for all that its worth. But first and foremost, this film reminds us that movie-making is a visual art form. In this regard, Paramount’s centennial celebration is well served by the Blu-ray reissue of To Catch a Thief.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B006OKOZGU[/amazon-product]

Purchase To Catch a Thief on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

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