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When it comes to Hollywood stars, a certain generation is often to be found lamenting that ‘they just don’t make them like that anymore’. And, while much of the time this can be dismissed as misty-eyed nostalgia, in some cases it might well ring true: after all, who quite encapsulates old Hollywood like Cary Grant? In over 50 movies, he was America’s perennial leading man – once told by an interviewer, “everybody would like to be Cary Grant”, he replied, “so would I”.
To Catch a Thief was Grant’s penultimate collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock, a tale of a retired jewel thief (Grant), who must clear his name after a series of crimes are committed in his style. Set amid the sun-drenched climbs of France’s Côte d’Azur, Grant is captivating as the charming ex-con, playing opposite the ultimate Hitchcock heroine Grace Kelly. And, though surprisingly lightweight fare from the lauded director, To Catch a Thief nonetheless runs off the two stars’ eternal charisma and style.
On the latter of those, To Catch a Thief offers plenty of sartorial panache – has there ever been a leading couple quite as well-dressed as these? Such a feat is made all the more impressive by the fact that, while Kelly worked with legendary Hollywood costumer Edith Head, Grant selected his own wardrobe. “Generally I wore simple, tasteful clothes, the same kind of clothes I wear off screen,” he said.
Which somehow feels like an understatement: in To Catch a Thief, Grant provides an exercise in grown-up Riviera style, whether striped nautical sweaters and polka-dot neckerchiefs, his succession of well-cut suits (including one particularly devastating tuxedo), cotton shirts (unbuttoned with a hint of chest), signature Henry Maxwell’s loafers (brown, worn without socks) or – in a sort of proto-Daniel Craig-as-Bond moment, rising forth from the Mediterranean Sea – the perfect pair of swimming shorts, belted, canary yellow, and just brief enough.
“I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be and I finally became that person. Or he became me. Or we met at some point”
– Cary Grant