To Catch A Thief – Paramount Presents (Blu-ray Review)

Paramount is launching into a pretty exciting new endeavor and keeping us home video collecting enthusiasts relieved that some studios are putting some effort behind catalog titles. With the newly minted Paramount Presents line, the brand is promising collectible packaging, new bonus features and new transfers of classic films from all eras of their storied studio’s career. One of the three launch titles is Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief, featuring the fabled classic Hollywood pairing of Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. Originally released on Blu-ray back in 2012, the new release boasts a 4K transfer and a new interview with famed film critic Leonard Maltin about the film. The launch of this line was April 21st, with new titles already announced and prepping for a go in the coming months. You can order To Catch A Thief from Paramount Presents using the Amazon Associate’s link following the review.


Notorious cat burglar John Robie (Cary Grant) has long since retired to tend vineyards on the French Riviera. When a series of robberies is committed in his style, John must clear his name. Armed with a list of people who own the most expensive jewels currently in the area, John begins following the first owner, young Francie (Grace Kelly). When her jewels are stolen, Francie suspects John, destroying their tentative romance. John goes on the lam to catch the thief and clear his own name.

Grace Kelly is gorgeous. Cary Grant is Gorgeous. To Catch a Thief‘s cinematography is gorgeous. Alfred Hitchcock’s direction is gorgeous. “Gorgeous” is likely the perfect word to describe the film in a most loving way. Hitchcock preferred shooting in the studio and on back lots for his films, but here he opts to shoot in France. And boy does he craft the perfect vacation scrapbook of their trip here with some beautiful locations and glamorous sets to dig into the wonderful world of a sneaky cat burglar and their prey.

Said film is captured by celebrated and frequent Hitchcock collaborator, Robert Burkes. This was the first film from Hitchcock to be shot on VistaVision. And the film just relishes in the beautiful colors and details of Cannes and Nice. This was back in the day when films were just in love with showboating color and it really works here. Even the day for night stuff finds itself looking stylish and as an intended part of the brush strokes instead of an awkward distraction. All of the decor and clothing in the film looks dashing and just radiantly flaunts itself off the screen in every frame. While this is on the top end of middle of the road Hitch, there’s no denying its on the high end of his better looking pictures.

Cary Grant was 50 when he shot To Catch A Thief, but as a mega star he could convince you of any age late 30s through his 50s. You want Cary Grant, you get Cary Grant and he’s just a damn treat to see mosey through a film. Grace Kelly doesn’t show up for a bit in the film, but the moment the camera first catches her, she can just easily clear a room (Or beach, in this case). Kelly really drives the film and kicks it into another gear once she enters. Her character adds more pressure and obstacle for Grant’s Robie, but its Kelly’s performance that pushes it beyond the limits and makes this film much stronger than it appears on paper. There’s a power, a mischievousness and a danger Kelly brings that layers in her as a potential suspect in the scheme of things. So much so, that on a first watch one might say “Ha, got this figured out easy” only to distract you from what is really going on.

To Catch A Thief glimpses Alfred Hitchcock in an almost relaxed fashion. Even at that, he’s far and above so much better than any given filmmaker present and past. The film primarily showcases some great onscreen chemistry and powerful chewy and dialogue enhancing from Grace Kelly and Cary Grant. To boot, this one leans on the more romantic side of things with an added element of mystery and suspense. Its Hitchcock in a much more fun and loose sense. Plus, this is the movie where he took a nice vacation with this film and has the absolutely beautiful reels of film to show for it.


For further analysis, I have done a screenshot comparison between this edition and the original 2012 Paramount Blu-ray release that you can find by clicking HERE

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: The Paramount Presents line has debuted with some immediate controversy off the bat. Starting here with the video, we receive a brand new 4K transfer of To Catch A Thief. Its quite surprising how different this new image is from the original Blu-ray release. And mostly not for the better or the improved. The framing maintains the same cropped 1.78:1 sizing (Originally the film was 1.85:1). While the image boast a more brighter and vivid affair, with some improved color saturation there is a cost. There is a clear application of DNR over it which has smoothed out details as well as removed the grain structure from the image. It does present a bit more waxy look to our humans in the film. This was definitely done to give the film as modern and fresh/new look as it could be. There is also an odd decision to change the color timing during the nighttime sequences of the film. Whereas the film once carried a green filter, intended to drown out the blue by the filmmakers, this new Blu-ray has change it all to blue. Which does have a beauty to it, but its not true to the filmmaker’s intention and what we are supposed to be seeing.

Feel free to provide contradiction to me in the comments below, but according to Hitchcock himself from the famed Hitchcock/Truffaut interviews regarding To Catch A Thief, “The only interesting footnote I can add is that since I hate royal-blue skies, I tried to get rid of the Technicolor blue for the night scenes. So we shot with a green filter to get the dark slate blue, the real color of night, but it still didn’t come out as I wanted it.” I guess you could make the argument that one was pulling a George Lucas/Ridley Scott and fulfilling Hitchock’s desires for what he wanted, but that’s not the film that was originally released by him and seen by us for 65 years. And I’m pretty sure he didn’t give the go ahead for that decision.

Depth: There is some decent depth work here, a hint of a step down from the previous version in terms of a looser fluidity. But its nothing harmful and the rear projection moments blend with a little less sense of obviousness. Motion has no issues as it features clean character and camera movements throughout.

Black Levels: Black levels are deep and close to the natural levels. The main difference here is the lack of graininess, but that also means some of the details could be easily missing here. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are quite brilliant in their technicolor glory for this release. Its a lot more vivid picture, so they give a little extra pop compared to the previous transfer. There are some better instances of saturation and fuller looking color schemes, especially when it comes to lawns, flower gardens and buildings.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are a bit natural, smoother and a tad waxy. Consistent from beginning to end of the film. Details and textures are pretty good, regardless and you can really see the sweat and make-up facial coloring of the actors with some ease.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.


Format(s): English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, German 2.0 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Spain) 2.0 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Latin America) 2.0 Dolby Digital, French 2.0 Dolby Digital, Italian 2.0 Dolby Digtial, Japanese 2.0 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English, SDH, Danish, German, Spanish (Spain), Spanish (Latin America), French, Italian, Japanese, Dutch, Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish, English (Commentary), German (Commentary), Spanish (Spain – Commentary), Italian (Commentary)

Dynamics: Another notable change here is that this is using a new 5.1 TrueHD mix and has opted not to include both the lossless stereo and mono tracks from the original release. If these are being made for collectors, many of them are purists and prefer to watch with the original theatrical mixes. That said, this new 5.1 mix is a pretty nice treat. It has a great blending of score, vocals and sound effects. Due to the likely nature of the source it was mixed from, you do probably want to bump your volume up a few notches from the start.

Height: N/A

Low-Frequency Extension: The subwoofer is on the lighter end of work, mainly an accompanying player, never really really boasting much of a boom at any point.

Surround Sound Presentation: Never overdoing it, keeping most of the action toward the front, this one has a lot of ambiance and coloring in a room for its surround purposes first and foremost. Sound travel finds accuracy back and forth, translating the action on screen with lifelike capability.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are quite clear and crisp, impressively stripped of really any analog hamperings in its source.


To Catch A Thief, in first pressing, comes with a slip cover that folds open to reveal the original poster art for the film. There are 7 featurettes and a Photo Gallery that were on the previous release that have not been carried over to this new one.

Audio Commentary

  • By Drew Casper, Hitchcock Film Historian

Filmmaker Focus: Leonard Maltin On To Catch A Thief (HD, 7:19) – The iconic film critic gives some historical background and fruitful anecdotes on the film, the era, the players, the dialogue, preparartions and the photographing techniques used on the film. While all too brief, its far more informative and engaging than some 20-40 min fluffy featurettes I’ve had to sit through.

Behind The Gates (2009): Cary Grant And Grace Kelly (HD, 6:06) – This is the only carry over featurette from the previous Blu-ray release. A few talking heads discuss Cary Grant and Grace Kelly’s careers and their onscreen chemistry.

Original Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:16) 


To Catch A Thief is one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most attractive looking films on both celluloid and its leading duo. In addition its charming, funny, clever and thrilling. Paramount Presents has brought it to Blu-ray for the second time with somewhat underwhelming results. The gutting of the wealth of previous bonus material is a big disappointment. With the new transfer, your appreciation of it is a bit of a “mileage may vary” type of thing. Some DO like cleaner attempts to be modern DNR scrubs and as long as there a now changes to the design, a 5.1 audio mix is fine. Considering the movie is Oscar nominated for Best Cinematography, the change in color timing feels a bit less welcome. My personal preference is the natural look and original color timing of the previous edition as well as the load of terrific bonus features that aren’t present here. The trade off doesn’t feel favorable. I have an assumption that these were prepped for anniversary screenings (Mentioned in the original press release) via Fathom events or the like and were restored up to the standards for those and these Blu-rays are sort of a companion to those or came about as a part of them.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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