Even in this light, I can tell where your eyes are looking. Look, John. Hold them. Diamonds. The only thing in the world you can’t resist. Then tell me you don’t know what I’m talking about . . .
You know as well as I do: this necklace is imitation.
Well. I’m not.
Got to see this on the big screen at a local theater and I’d never seen it before; there was a little extra charge there for that reason. It’s one thing to get to see a Hitchcock on the big screen; it’s even better to get to see one for the first time on the big screen. This is a lighter Hitchcock in many ways, a bit of a romp at times and a bit frivolous, but it’s also very entertaining and the use of the French Riviera is really beautiful on the big screen. Cary Grant is perfect as the ex-cat burglar suspected in a new rash of burglaries; it’s a great premise, the idea of a wrongly accused thief trying to uncover the true identity of the thief and if the mystery is less mysterious than it might be, well, that’s because Hitchcock is less interested in the mystery and more interested in the psycho-sexual tension of the relationship between Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. And it’s that relationship that really does give the movie it’s real charge and some real depth. I honestly think this is maybe Kelly’s best performance. She’s occasionally too coolly elegant for me to really find a real character in her performance, but in this film, there’s a carefully hidden hunger behind the cool exterior. You really do get the feeling that this young woman is dangerous, cunning and kind of an unstoppable sexual force. It’s another great Hitchcock twist on the sexual adventure; Grant is the ex-French Resistance fighter, a clever, intelligent burglar with a history of ruthless violence – but he’s out of his depth with Kelly. She’s the tiger and he’s the prey and there’s never a thought that he’ll escape. If I sometimes find Kelly to be too cool and collected to really come across as real, I certainly find her too removed quite often to be sexy, but the seduction scenes here are astounding. It would take a man made of stone, if you know what I mean. The supporting players are really wonderful as well. John Williams, fresh from his canny turn as a detective in Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder is an absolute delight as a harried insurance agent. Danielle Auber is quite good as a young woman from Grant’s past, another complicated character that can’t help teasing the Cat. Jessie Royce Landis is best of all the supporting players as the mother of Kelly’s character; it’s a pitch perfect example of breathing real life into a small supporting part. It’s a real triumph of character over plot. Hitchcock was usually adept at making both brilliant, but here it’s the characterizations and the relationships of the characters that elevate the film, entertain the audience and kept me watching spellbound. The story is a bit thin, less than it could be I’d say, given its strong, unique premise. But the psychological tension is gripping and the performances are brilliant. It’s not going to end up at the top of my Hitchcock list or even in the top ten probably, but it’s an incomparable pleasure that seduces the viewer as surely as the lure of jewels, power and sex seduce the characters. 4 stars.
tl;dr – frothy, stylish thriller hides an exploration of the psycho-sexual relationship as only Hitchcock could do it; sharp characterization and great performances elevate a somewhat thin plot. 4 stars.