To Catch A Thief: The Definitive Location Guide To Alfred Hitchcock’s Classic Film

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Most cyber junkies are probably not aware that bloggers have the ability to track, among other things, the search word or words used to reach a particular blog or blog post.  For example, if someone enters “Tourrettes sur Loup” into the Google toolbar and that, in turn, leads them to my July 28 post on the Auberge de Tourrettes, then I know that the title and tags I’ve used have been effective.  Being aware of “blog stats” can be very helpful in driving traffic to a blog.
The reason for this explanation?
Since my first Le Stuff post on June 10, 2009, one subject has easily trumped all other searches by a country mile.
Here are a few examples:

john robies villa in the hills of nice
where exactly is john robies villa
john robie cours saleya flower market nice
flower market john robie

I think you get the idea.

I’m sure many of you are probably scratching your  heads at this very moment and wondering “Who is John Robie?”
John Robie is the character played by
Cary Grant in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1953 classic film
To Catch A Thief.
I wrote about John Robie, Robie’s villa, and To Catch A Thief in my June 12 post “Three days to kill on the Cote d’Azur” and “Movies to watch before traveling to the south of France” posted on June 20.

A former jewel thief and French Resistance fighter, Robie is forced out of a very comfortable retirement in the south of France by a string of copy cat burglaries.  It seems the copy cat is using all his old tricks and Robie must catch the impostor before the police catch him.  Along the way he becomes romantically entangled with the young and beautiful Frances Stevens played by Grace Kelly (at the time Kelly was 25, Grant 51).

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Filmed in the south of France, the movie is visually stunning.
In fact, if not for the super star power of Grant and Kelly, the French Riviera would have stolen the show.

OK.  It is now time for me to come out of the cinematic closet.

I am a To Catch a Thief expert.

I’m not kidding.

I do not say this boastfully (on the contrary, I feel slightly embarrassed), but simply as a matter of fact.
There can certainly be no more than a handful of people alive today who know more about the movie’s set locations than I do.
How (and why in God’s name) am I such a know-it-all?

1) I own an apartment in a small village in the south of France (the village is featured in the movie).
2) I am a geek.  I have researched the film so thoroughly that if you and I were together in the south of France right now, I could immediately take you to any set location you wished.
3) I am friends with a prominent cast member who has been kind enough to share insider information with me.

I could go on but I think I’ve embarrassed myself enough, thank you very much.

So for all you fellow cinematic geeks who have searched in vain for information on John Robie, you may want to subscribe to Le Stuff right now.
The next several posts are for you.
In the coming weeks I will provide a narrative of the most interesting (French Riviera) set locations used in Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece,
To Catch A Thief.

Stay tuned….

Read the next post in this series here.

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14 Comments

Filed under Films, To Catch A Thief

14 responses to “To Catch A Thief: The Definitive Location Guide To Alfred Hitchcock’s Classic Film

  1. letsjapan

    I’ve seen most of Hitchcock’s films, but I confess to not (yet) having seen “To Catch a Thief”. So now I need to watch the movie, with y’all preferably, *and* get myself to South France. Let me get some “loose ends” tied-up over the next while (a year or two?) and I’m there.

    I know the feeling, by the way. Being a DC native, I’ve seen movies over the years where I’m going, “Oh, I know *exactly* where that is. Sure, everyone knows where the steps to the Lincoln Memorial are, but not everyone knows that several outdoor conversation-over-drinks scenes were filmed at the rooftop restaurant/bar at the Hotel Washington (alas, turned into condos a few years ago); one such scene in “No Way Out” comes to mind.

    With Japan, well, over and over again “castle scenes” (whether from “Shogun” or 75% of every History Channel program on Japan) have been filmed at Himeji Castle, less than 90 minutes away from where I once lived (is on one of *my* group tours of Japan for next spring) and where I’ve visited countless times, taking friends, my mom, a girlfriend, a wife-cum-former-wife, and a group of “study abroad” students from UAB. Anyway, it *is* a cool feeling when one sees that movie or tv show the next time and you say to yourself, or whomever’s in the room, “I’ve been *there*. Right *there*”.

    You’ve inspired me to write a “companion post” about Himeji Castle that I’ll put up on LetsJapan — with an appropriate hat tip and link back to this one, of course. I’ll do that within the next few days.

    All the best –

    R

  2. robert breneman

    I was trying to pinpoint where “Bertani’s Restaurant” would be. Supposedly Monte Carlo? Would it be on that hilly road behind the casino on the way down to the harbor? Is it still a restaurant and what would be its current name?

    • lestuff

      Hi Robert. Thanks for the email.
      At first glance I also thought the scene was shot behind the casino. As Grant walks down to the restaurant the balustrade is very similar to the one behind the casino. If you look a little closer, though, you can see that it was actually shot across the harbor (Port Hercule) from the casino.
      I vaguely remember a conversation I had with Brigitte Auber a few years ago about that particular scene. I think she told me that there was actually a restaurant there at that time (not anymore). I do know that the scene in the wine cave below the restaurant was shot in Hollywood.
      Hope this helps and if I come across any more information I’ll send it your way.

      • Robert Breneman

        Thank you very much..thats fascinating. We just got back from Monte Carlo 3 weeks ago and we spent some time in Cannes, Nice, Ese, etc. touring around and, among other things, visiting the locations of some of those exterior shots..I am a die hard Cary Grant as well as Alfred Hitchcock fan, and well this movie as well as Suspicion and North by Northwest are very special to me for that reason. ANyway now that N by NW is out on blue ray I await anxiously for T. C.A.T. as well as the other classics to start coming out in that format.

        Anyway, next time I am there I will have to check the location you mention. Even if there is no restaurant there, it would be fun to see if anything looks remotely familiar.

        Anyway as we all know, the character Bertani plays a central role in the plot, i.e. is the “McGuffin”..won’t say more in case any reader hasn’t seen the movie.

        Also I am aware that most if not all of the interior shots were done on sets.

        Interesting the only part of the film which I find slightly irritating/weird, is that the french Actor who played Bertani, apparently couldn’t speak English and so there appears to be quite a but of dubbing, so there are quite a few cut aways when he speaks and when there are a few closeups its obvious his lips don’t match the words..Leading to a weird effect..

        Anyway thanks again!

  3. lestuff

    Robert,
    As a die-hard Cary Grant fan I thought you might enjoy a quick story. After the filming in France was finished for TCAT, Brigitte Auber was flown to Hollywood to shoot the interior shots. Her English was very limited and she had never been to the states before so she was a bit nervous. As she stepped off the plane she saw that just one person had come to the airport to meet her – Cary Grant.
    According to her he was a very nice guy.

    • PAT MARSHALL

      A quick view of Cary Grant. ‘ Indiscreet’ was opening in Dublin at the Adelphi cinema (long gone) Yes, I’m that old. Red carpet at entrance, crowd across the road, and a noted Girls Pipe Band playing, as Cary arrived in a limo. He stepped out, was greeted, photographed, and was on his way in, then stopped and came back onto the footpath, to look over at the pipers. He smiled and waved over at them. THEN went in. A small gesture, but a thoughtful one. He was very interested in building a home beside the Shannon river and was in Ireland quite a few times. Sadly, it didn’t happen. A gentle man.

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  5. PAT MARSHALL

    I’m the late boy. Only now, in 2015 am I finding out that there is a ‘TCAT’ gang, and share the strange fascination for this film. A relief to find your blog and realise I’m not ‘strange’ in some way !!

    • Sorry for the delay responding to you, Pat. Thank you for your kind comments about the blog. I have been obsessed with the film for many, many years and have seen it numerous times…..still love it just as much as the first time. Welcome to the club!!

  6. PAT MARSHALL

    Yes it was perfect in so many ways. Jesse Royce Landis and John Williams were superb supports. A question though. Was it set in a previous time-frame? A few years previous to when it was made? Not a bikini in sight. But no complaints. How great that you met Brigitte. Thank you for response.

    • Hi Pat, Interesting question that I have never really thought about. Robie is a veteran of the French Resistance so if it is out of its time-frame it could only be by a few year. I must admit you have stumped me with your question!

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  8. paola zuffinetti

    Just what I’ve been looking for! Thanks a lot!

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