The master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock keeps things light - but engaging - with To Catch A Thief starring Cary Grant as a cat thief wrongly accused of a series of crimes. It may not be Hitchcock's best effort but it's a fun run and proves the man knew how to structure a film. To Catch A Thief makes its second appearance on Blu-ray thanks to Paramount as an inaugural member of the Paramount Presents label for popular and classic films from their archive. Remastered from a 4K transfer, the film still looks stunning on Blu-ray (see updated video section) with a new Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix that does a decent enough job of opening up the audio. If you missed the 2012 release, put this one on your radar. Worth A Look.
Note: The Video portion of this review has been updated (5/12/20) to reflect a comparison of this new release to the original 2012 release.
Our own David Krauss already did a terrific review for the 2012 Blu-ray
I really don't have anything to add to that review beyond singing more praise on one of Hitchcock's most entertaining thrillers. It's light Hitch for sure, but still entertaining. Cary Grant is still at the top of his game here playing the gentleman criminal while Grace Kelly gets to play clever and cool as she did with Hitchcock's previous Rear Window. While the big reveal at the end may not be a huge surprise if you're paying attention, but the execution of the final chase is the perfect blend of actor performance, direction, editing, cinematography, and production design. Easily Hitchcock's most scenic and beautiful film - it's a stunning travel thriller 65 years later!
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch A Thief gets a second helping of 1080p gold as an inaugural member of Paramount Pictures' new signature Paramount Presents label. The disc is housed in a clear case with a cardboard slipcover with spine number 3 that opens up to reveal the film's original theatrical poster artwork. The disc loads to a static image main menu with traditional navigation options.
As listed in the mission statement printed on the back of each release so far, Paramount Presents promises to provide each release with transfers sourced from 4K remasters or restorations. As far as To Catch A Thief is concerned, it's not entirely clear if this 1080p 1.85:1 transfer was sourced from a new 4K transfer or simply reused the previous 2012 transfer which in of itself could have been a recent 4K restoration. For this title that's a bit of an unclear gray area - regardless - this is a stunning looking film. Easily the most beautiful, vibrant, and colorful film of Hitchcock's catalog, everything in this image maintains an authentic film-like appearance with a natural grain structure and vivid details. Facial features, production design, costuming, and the scenic Riviera appear with near-lifelike details.
Colors are bold and beautiful allowing for amazing primary pop and presence. There are many places to point to as examples here, but one of my favorite examples is the chase sequence through the flower market. Each flower is clearly defined against the actors with true-to-life color saturation. Likewise, black levels and whites are well defined giving the image some welcome three-dimensional depth. There is some slight softness cooked into the image, and the frames surrounding optical scene transitions can lose some clarity, but that's a baked-in aspect of the film itself. The only other issue of note is some slight banding whenever anyone wears some fine-striped shirts. This effect was present in the 2012 release so that gives me a reason to assume that the transfer used for this disc is the same one. But that's hardly a bad thing as this is a truly splendid looking film.
Now that I've had the chance to secure a copy of the original 2012 disc I feel it's very necessary for me to revisit my praise of this new transfer. While not a complete travesty, this new 2020 master isn't nearly as impressive as the 2012 disc. For starters, film grain has been stripped way back compared to the 2012 disc. While this isn't as waxy and featureless as something we've seen with Terminator 2: Judgment Day or Twister - it's certainly not as rich and film-like as the 2012 disc. While fine details remain and there are moments of apparent grain - it hasn't been completely scrubbed away - it's impossible to deny the use of DNR.
Color timing has also been jiggered with pushing blues stronger pulling back solid grays in the process. The most notable difference is the final rooftop sequence has lost a lot of that green pallet in favor of an almost aqua/navy blue tone. Other color changes appear throughout but the difference in shades of blue to green is the most apparent. While still a decent looking image - things could have been left well enough alone and been perfectly satisfactory. Save that old disc. I now hope that Paramount will go back and rework this master without DNR and offer a disc replacement.
To Catch A Thief is gifted a fresh Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track that does a great job of opening up the mix and providing a sense of space and dimension to the show. When some scenic on-location material appears - again look towards the flower market - there is some nice side activity. It's not a showy example because the film was never designed for surround sound but the spacing of the sound effects and placement gives it some extra heft. Rears don't really come alive as most of this mix is a front/center affair with some side work to round things out during the more exciting scenes. Dialog is clean and clear throughout and scoring by Lyn Murray is delightful accompaniment throughout.
With that in mind, I am a little bummed the original mono and/or stereo tracks are not available here. While I would stand that this new 5.1 track is a great mix, I do like to have a stereo or mono track for a more authentic presentation. It's a mild quibble really as this track is great and serves the film nicely.
Like King Creole, To Catch A Thief gets a new very brief interview with Leonard Maltin along with the previously available audio commentary and the "Behind The Gates" archival bonus feature. It's not the world's most thrilling package of features, but the audio commentary remains a highlight. There are a number of featurettes from the previous Blu-ray and DVD that aren't ported over here - so hold onto those discs.
To Catch A Thief may not be Hitchcock's absolute best, but it's an enjoyable thriller shot in the south of France with beautiful scenery - not to mention just a fun watch! Cary Grant and Grace Kelly make the film giving the show some sexual tension to move the story past the cliched wrong man plot. It's a classy feature from the first frame to the last with the right mix of suspense, romance, and a sly touch of Hitchcock's sense of humor.
Paramount delivers To Catch A Thief to Blu-ray for the second time now as an inaugural member of the Paramount Presents signature label. As a celebrated classic, it's a welcome addition to that collection with a beautiful image transfer and a new and effective Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio mix. Sadly the bonus features department is a slip-up as only one small new Leonard Maltin interview is the single new bonus feature and a majority of the previously available archival featurettes were not carried over. If you already have To Catch A Thief - this release may not be worth an upgrade. If you haven't pulled the trigger on this one this is a Recommended release.
As I've updated the video score to reflect new thoughts about this transfer, I am forced to reevaluate my recommendation for this release. While I stand by my thoughts about the film itself and the new 5.1 TrueHD mix, the usage of DNR and the new altered color timing - along with numerous missing bonus features from the 2012 release makes this a somewhat questionable "upgrade." If you haven't bought this film previously and can't locate a copy of the 2012 disc, it's not the worst product out there. However, if you have the 2012 disc, certainly don't trade in that disc for this one. You would be losing a superior video presentation for one of Hitchcock's most beautifully colorful movies in his catalog. At best - Worth A Look.