Category Archives: Misc.

In Search of David Dodge

In August of 2010 I received an email from Jean Buchanan, a writer from England who had been commissioned to dramatize the novel “To Catch A Thief” for BBC Radio and to make an accompanying BBC Radio Arts feature about the writing of the book. American author David Dodge penned the thriller in 1950 while living in a rented villa (Villa Noel Fleuri) in the south of France with his wife and young daughter, Kendal. The idea for the story came to him after the luxurious villa next door was robbed by a daring “cat burglar” during a cocktail party. As guests dined on the terrace overlooking the Mediterranean, the thief climbed in at the back of the house and snatched items from the guest bedrooms. Dodge would later remark that after hearing about the brazen robbery, “To Catch A Thief practically wrote itself!”

Jean had stumbled upon my blog during her research for the BBC projects and asked if I could help locate Villa Noel Fleuri. I agreed to assist in any way possible and the search began, aided in no small part by another of Jean’s recruits, Randal S. Brandt in Berkeley, California. Randal is the creator of A David Dodge Companion, an outstanding website devoted to the works of David Dodge .

Several months prior to hearing from Jean I had actually been in touch with Dodge’s daughter (at that time she was still alive and living in Mexico) in an attempt to find the villa used as John Robie’s house in Alfred Hitchcock’s film adaptation of the book. I asked her about the villa she lived in with her father and her only memory was of a long, winding driveway with lots of trees leading up to the house. She thought it had been somewhere near Juan les Pins.  Continue reading

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2016/10/30 · 3:18 PM

Mr. Dodge, Mr Hitchcock, and the French Riviera

If you’re a To Catch A Thief fan you simply cannot miss Jean Buchanan’s fabulous new book, “Mr Dodge, Mr Hitchcock, and the French Riviera“.

This is the definitive narrative on the complete story, from American author David Dodge’s inspiration for his novel (a daring burglary that took place next door to the villa he was renting in the south of France), to the making of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film.

Trust me…settle in, pour yourself a nice glass of claret, and get ready for a wonderful tale full of glamorous movie stars, daring thieves, and just the right amount of mystery.

You won’t regret it!
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An Evening in St Tropez…

A few years ago I had dinner with two female friends in St Tropez.

The restaurant was very stylish, one of those where you sit outside along a charming, pedestrian-only street, sip wine, watch the ultra-chic stroll by, and pretend you belong there.

It was a wonderful evening except for the fact that my friends kept rambling on about how incredibly handsome our waiter was.  I’m not usually the jealous type, but an entire meal spent talking about an attractive waiter is a bit much don’t you think?

Something else bothered me.

He was apparently so good-looking that they were rendered completely oblivious to his abysmal English.  I’m not just lashing out here.  My Italian was better than his English and I don’t speak Italian.  For the girls, though, the carnage discharged from his mouth that night sounded as smooth and silky as just-served foie gras.

“Oh my god, did you see his eyes?”

“An endless sea of blue!”

“I know!  I know!  And it’s so obvious he works out!”

“And his English is sooooo good!”

“I know!  I know!”

During the first course, thankfully, Mr. Marvelous remained pleasantly absent, resting comfortably, I assumed, in a secret mirrored room reserved exclusively for irritating handsome people.

Then, at just the right moment, he swept in on a cloud of pulchritude to collect our plates. Continue reading

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La Source Parfumee

PnKJOvLa Source Parfumee is a hidden gem.

Stretched out along the edge of a cliff high above the Gorges du Loup and just down the road from the village of Gourdon, it is a quiet, quirky place. A lush garden seemingly untended and running wild. Thyme, jasmine, lavender, orange trees, genista, and alpine flowers dot the hillside.

No one was there when I visited.

Take a chunk of cheese, a baguette, a bottle of wine, and stay a while…

La Source Parfumee provides the flowers, flavors , and scents for many of the soaps, lotions, and perfumes sold in Gourdon. From Gourdon take a right on the D3 heading east. The garden is a few minutes drive down the road on the right. There is a sign on the left hand side and a small gravel patch for parking. Entrance is free.

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The Sunbeam Alpine Roadster, Sex, and Celluloid

To Catch A Thief is a sexy film, though not in the way we view sexuality today.

It is oblique, subtle, suggestive.

There is an allusion to sex that leaves the viewer wanting more.

Grace Kelly, icy cool and devastatingly beautiful, gliding across the room in a perfectly fitted evening gown. Cary Grant, confident, swaggering, and always ready with a clever line.

Even the car driven by Kelly exudes an elegant sexuality.

The powder blue Sunbeam Alpine Roadster is seductive, sophisticated, unattainable…until now.

I recently received an email from Tom Holland, a California man who is parting ways with the ultimate To Catch A Thief souvenir. His Sunbeam Alpine Roadster, an exact replica of the car driven in the movie, is for sale.

It is completely restored and in mint condition. The exterior and interior colors perfectly match the car featured in the film (as do the front and back license plates). The Roadster even has its own agent in Los Angeles and was recently showcased in an InStyle Magazine article featuring Drew Barrymore. Continue reading

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Bière à la pression

I love that the United States is smack in the middle of a craft beer revolution.

I’m a firm believer in supporting small businesses, especially ones that get people drunk. The proliferation throughout the country of these independent entrepreneurs can only add fire to a still sluggish economy and I support their efforts wholeheartedly.

There is something, however, that I like a little more than the current American brew-ha-ha.

I like being able to walk into any bar in France and ordering une pression (a draught beer).

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That’s it.

The server will not ask what type of draught you prefer and he/she will not launch into a wild-eyed, protracted monologue about the latest honey brown pale ale porter blah blah blah they just tapped. At times you might be asked if you would prefer a small or large pression but clearly this is an inside joke flitted about occasionally by native French citizens who enjoy teasing non-natives.

Small?

Funny little server.

As a reward for your basic request you will be issued a tall glass of cold, golden, perfectly respectable beer.

Now, readers may take issue with Continue reading

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Reflections of a Zen Master

This post was originally written in 2011.

Let me start out by saying I realize I have not returned to the States, wiser and more contemplative, from a three year stint living in a remote Tibetan temple.

I have, however, just returned from an extended trip to France, and as usual, feel somewhat reflective.  Listed below are five things that struck me as I stepped off the plane in Philadelphia after my transatlantic flight.

1) Television news media is crap, and I apologize for the insult to all self-respecting crap. I don’t care if you’re right-wing, left-wing, or chicken-wing, if you’re spending any time at all watching CNN, FOX, MSNBC, etc., then you are wasting valuable time.  It is shocking what passes for news these days.

2) We eat way too much bad food.
One thing you have to give the French is their unwavering devotion to good food.  We in the States, unfortunately, don’t share the same passion, though things do seem to be improving a bit.  It’s no wonder Continue reading

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