Alfred Hitchcock’s “To Catch a Thief” is one of my favorite movies of all time. It had that classic vibrant color print (VistaVision baby!), the awesome locale (the classic French Riveria, before the high rises), humor, romance, and of course, the dramatic thirller elements. At the risk of sounding like the curmudgeon that I am, they don’t make them like they used to.
Yeah, as noted before, the movie is right up there with “Good Will Hunting” and “Karate Kid Part II” as my favorite movies — Some people try to impress you with their favorites — clearly that’s not the case with me — I speak the truth.
But back to “To Catch a Thief” — it should be remade. Yeah, yeah yeah yeah, I know, the original is really cool, there was the whole Psycho remake fiasco. If it ain’t broke, why fix it, right? I’m not suggesting that one do a shot for shot remake, but rather a redoing and an update. The only way a new generation of moviegoers are going to be exposed to this very different side of Hitchcock is if they remake To Catch A Thief. I know I sound like a Hollywood suit, but something in me would to see another version of this set in the here and now and I think I would enjoy it.
Hollywood has gone through a recent mini-rash of redoing/ripping off Hitchcock. Disturbia is Rear Window. Flightplan with Jodie Foster is a remake of The Lady Vanishes. Both Hitchock remakes were slickly produced by a creatively depleted Hollywood machine. Now there is talk of remaking the Birds. And there are so many others that have redone Hitchcock. So why not with this film?
So bear with me in my little fantasy about how I would remake To Catch a Thief.
George Clooney = Cary Grant
Obvious. The older man good looks and the self-deprecating humor, along with the smirk. Basically he plays the same character that he did in Ocean’s 11, Ocean’s 12, and of course, Ocean’s 13 (they really should have called the last one, Ocean’s Baker’s Dozen). He’s made his mark with Michael Clayton (a great ‘lawyer’ film, right up there with My Cousin Vinny and A Few Good Men — seriously), so he can go back to making light movies where he plays a charismatic scallawag. Perfect as John Robie. If that’s not the new coming of Cary Grant, I dunno what is.
The young French girl, Danielle, played by Brigitte Auber, needs a remake as well. In the movie, I found her character annoying (or maybe it was just because she was overshadowed by Grace Kelly). If one keeps the setting in the south of France (which is one of the reasons the movie worked so well), then the actress playing her has to be French. I’m not in any shape or form up on my French cinema — I only know Sophie Marceau (good non-native English speaking actresses from overseas should never agree to act here in the states in English — it kills their career, and I mean you Gong Li and Aishwarya Rai).
But I think an actress from Mr. Bean’s Holiday (yeah, I watch Mr. Bean) might fit the bill, Emma de Caunes (on the left):
Not a great picture of Brigette Auber (on the right), but if you’ve seen both movies (I’m not recommending anyone go out and watch Mr. Bean’s Holiday, unless you’re on a 12 hour transpacific flight, like I was), you’ll see that both actors can play the “spunky” ingenue Danielle.
But the big question is: Who would play Grace Kelly’s character, Francie?
I dunno. Someone beautiful but classy. Hard to do . . .
This would be the most difficult part of my purely academic excercise.
Hard to find that rare combination of beauty, poise and presence these days. Yes, I do realize that I’m on the verge of heroine worship here. There are great actresses in our era and it’s really unfair to compare them to someone from a different era (you know, Michael Jordan v. Lew Alcindor, Rocky Balboa v. Mike Tyson, Jackie Chan v. Bruce Lee, etcetera). It becomes more unfair when you realize Grace Kelly actually became a PRINCESS. That kinda takes the cake.
I have to actually think about it. (Natalie Portman? Charlize Theron? Rachel McAdams? Anne Hathaway?)
As a matter of fact, I think I have to get back to you on this one.