When the stakes are right, you’ll gamble!
Film number 3 and I'm already surprised at the variety of films I've come across in Hitchcock's portfolio. I guess it was a bit narrow minded of me to assume all his films would be thrillers of the Psycho breed. There's more than one way to skin a cat (cat's feature heavily in this review, I won't lie) and thrillers can manifest themselves in many ways. After all. to thrill means to feel excitement, not terror… terror can be exciting, but it's not exclusive.
There was also an interesting bit of bonus material on this DVD. An interview with Hitchcock's daughter who talked about her father and about how fun he was and how he had a great sense of fun and humour and a child-like curiosity about the world. There was a video of him as a young man riding a bicycle around what looked like a big garden or farm, really enjoying it, and It made me think, I suppose all of us have to balance ourselves. Those who are can delve deep into the darkness of mankind must too be able to bathe in light and goodness to the same extent in order to find harmony.
Okay, is it just me, or does the mother, Jessie, really want her jewels to be stolen? I mean, she may as well throw them off the balcony of that lavish seafront hotel suite because she obviously just want's the insurance claim. So much so that it got to the point where I was absolutely convinced that this film wasn't what it first seemed at all and that the jewels were fake and the real theft here was going to be from the insurance company… that would actually have made a great plot also, but it wasn't the case, her character was just a bit blasé and the lack of sentimental attachment to her jewellery was just very over-egged (Phil Shingler would be proud of me for saying that… and only handful of people on the planet are ever going to get that joke… but it'll be a beautiful moment if and when they do!).
Again, I don't like to overly spoil a plot, as one of my main hopes is to inspire more people to seek out and watch these old films, but it is very much a case that the copy-cat Cat is sort of one of the people that you probably suspect very early on in the film and that the whole charade with the mother not caring about her jewels is put in to look like a plot twist and lead you astray from the more obvious conclusion. Maybe I'm just really bad at guessing who dunnit, in fact, I know I am! This happened with The Mousetrap too (now that I definitely CAN'T spoil! sworn to secrecy as all audience members are at the end of the performance)… I had it at the interval and then spent the second act talking myself out of it!
It's all good though. I like a film to do that to me one way or another, keep me on my toes, and this film certainly did that.
Grace Kelly, as Frances, pulls off a great performance in this film too, playing a slightly older, but not too old, woman only just on the right side of "why isn't she married yet?" (for the time, of course), smart, sophisticated, not so innocent and able to see off a bit of rivalry from Robbie's (Carry Grant's) younger admirer, Danielle (fun fact… Jean Martineli, who plays Danielle, is actually 18 months older than Grace Kelly).
A big highlight for me would have to be Frances' glee when she outs Robbie as the original Cat and enjoys tormenting him (all whilst continuing to serve him a picnic) with his futile attempts to deny it… soon replaced with a cold feeling of betrayal when the jewels do go missing. That's a real rollercoaster moment on the emotional scale and exactly what I was on about above when I was talking about what really makes a thriller.
Yes, another Hitchcok film thoroughly enjoyed with just a hint of bitter-sweet longing to be able to travel back in time and visit the French Riviera as it was back then… It's true that a location can become a character in itself. I've read in many places that San Francisco does that in Vertigo (which I shall find out soon I suppose!) and , for me, the French Riviera does that in To Catch A Thief!