Le Stuff’s Definitive Location Guide to Alfred Hitchcock’s Classic Film
Series Post #14
Room 623: The Carlton in Cannes
There’s a wonderful scene in To Catch A Thief in which Francie Stevens (Grace Kelly’s character) is escorted to her hotel room by John Robie (played by Cary Grant). She opens the door, turns, gives him a long, cool kiss, and then without saying a word, steps inside and closes the door. Robie is left grinning and bemused.
The room, of course, is at The Carlton in Cannes, number 623. The interior is featured later when Francie invites Robie in for a drink, more kissing, a fireworks display in the Golfe de la Napoule, and several clever innuendoes that somehow managed to slip past the censors.
For several years I was certain that Brigitte Auber had told me all the interior scenes in To Catch A Thief were shot on a set in Hollywood, the ones at The Carlton painstakingly recreated to look exactly like the hotel. The last time we had lunch, though, she said the clips from The Carlton were actually filmed at The Carlton. I understand the confusion, Brigitte was not featured in any of the hotel’s interior shots and filming took place more than 60 years ago.
In 2011 I consulted with a German production company for a travel show featuring To Catch A Thief locations. The crew filmed a segment in room 623 and the management at The Carlton, of course, confirmed that the room was indeed used by Hitchcock for the famous fireworks scene, though it is certainly in their best interest to do so.
So what’s the truth?
Obviously it makes sense for a director to shoot interior scenes on a sound stage whenever possible (see photos at left). The difficulties involved with instructing actors, positioning lighting, managing the crew (to say nothing of coordinating a fireworks display), would be substantially exacerbated in a working hotel.
My best guess then, is that room 623 at The Carlton in Cannes, in the film at least, is really a sound stage at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, California.