To Catch a Thief appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The movie suffered from a disappointing transfer.
Source flaws created the majority of the problems. Throughout the flick, I noticed lots of specks, marks, grit, grain, scratches, streaks and general debris. These varied from moderate to heavy as they offered nearly constant distractions.
Other aspects of the transfer showed concerns as well. Prominent edge enhancement cropped up, and that meant iffy sharpness. Much of the movie offered decent delineation, but a lot of shots came across as iffy and ill-defined. Though I noticed no jagged edges, shimmering was a concern via striped shirts.
Colors served as a relative strong point. Though those elements varied, the movie’s bright palette usually meant that we found reasonably lively hues. I thought they could have been more dynamic, though, as the general drabness of the transfer lessened their impact. Blacks were adequate, but shadows tended to be thick. The green tint given to “day for night” shots looked off, and these scenes were too dense and difficult to discern. Overall, this was a flawed image.
At least the monaural soundtrack of To Catch a Thief seemed fine for its age and scope. Low-end heft failed to appear, as the track usually exhibited a tinny, trebly sound. This mostly affected music and effects, which were clear but without much range. I thought they needed greater vivacity and punch. Speech was a bit thin but remained intelligible and concise. The lines lacked edginess or notable flaws, though some poor looping created distractions. Clearly they revoiced some actors – and they did a terrible job of it. All of this added up to a pretty mediocre soundtrack.
When we move to the extras, we find four featurettes. Writing and Casting To Catch a Thief lasts nine minutes as it involves comments from daughter Pat Hitchcock, granddaughter Mary Stone, and author Steven DeRosa. “Writing and Casting” covers… um, writing and casting. We learn about the adaptation of the original novel as well as how the various actors came onto the project. DeRosa offers most of the information, and he gives us some fine notes about censorship issues and cut sequences. The cast-related aspects are less interesting but throw out a couple of decent tidbits. This is a short but reasonably effective program.
Next we get the 16-minute and 54-second The Making Of To Catch a Thief. It features remarks from Stone, DeRosa, Pat Hitchcock, production manager Doc Erickson, and French continuity person Sylvette Baudrot. We find info about shooting on location in France, problems related to language and actors, the use of VistaVision and cinematography, costumes and period continuity, some notes about Hitchcock and his style, censorship concerns, score, the movie’s release and a few general memories of the production.
The title of “Making” seems a little misleading, as the featurette doesn’t provide a full examination of the movie’s creation. Nonetheless, it spices up the DVD with a nice collection of anecdotes and facts. Though it doesn’t follow a particularly coherent path, the content seems interesting and useful enough to keep us involved.
For the seven-minute and 32-second Alfred Hitchcock and To Catch a Thief - An Appreciation, we hear from Pat Hitchcock, Stone, and Baudrot. “Appreciation” acts more as a love letter to the director than to the film. That’s fine, as we get some sweet anecdotes about Hitchcock and see a few home movies from his life. The end result seems fairly inconsequential but enjoyable. I do like Stone’s comments about taking a class on Hitchcock films in college and how her discussions with him affected that course.
Finally, we get Edith Head – The Paramount Years. It runs 13 minutes, 41 seconds as it offers notes from biographer David Chierichetti, Custom-Made Costume department head Tzetzi Ganey, fashion designer Bob Mackie, and actor Rosemary Clooney. “Years” looks at the famous costume designer and her work over the years. It seems awfully short for a take on someone with such a long and successful career, and it only tells us a little about Thief. Nonetheless, a quick overview is better than nothing, and we find enough useful notes to make the show worthwhile.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we find a poster and photo gallery. This presents a running montage of still images. It lasts seven minutes, three seconds as it displays 83 shots. It mixes candid pictures, movie frames, and various publicity materials to become a good collection.
The duo of Cary Grant and Grace Kelly are as gorgeous as the backdrop of the French Riviera and while To Catch A Thief doesn’t rate as one of Hitchcock’s best efforts, it’s an enjoyable romp nonetheless. The DVD offers decent audio and extras but suffers from a weak transfer. This is a problematic release for an entertaining flick.