Category Archives: To Catch A Thief

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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To Catch A Thief: Take 14

Le Stuff’s Definitive Location Guide to Alfred Hitchcock’s Classic Film

Series Post #16

The Picnic Site Revisited

When I started Le Stuff in June of 2009 I had no idea I would come across so many people who shared my quirky fascination with To Catch A Thief

I have been fortunate over the years to gain insight into the film and its locations from numerous devoted readers.

One person, though, stands out above the rest.

The latest research by Luca has been languishing in my email inbox for too long now and, as usual, he has truly done his due diligence.

All of the photos in this post (except for the screenshots) were taken by Luca.

More to follow….

The approach to the picnic site looking west.

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Again, approaching from the west. Luca stood on the roof of the garage that now sits next to the picnic site in order to take this photo. The shot approximately matches Hitchcock’s camera position (though at a different height). Continue reading

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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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To Catch A Thief: Take 13

Le Stuff’s Definitive Location Guide to Alfred Hitchcock’s Classic Film

Series Post #15

Plage de Passable, St Jean Cap Ferrat

One afternoon several years ago I made what turned out to be a fortuitous decision.  I had just paid my tab at a snazzy little joint overlooking Villefranche.  The houses scattered along the steep hillside below the restaurant were bathed in an ethereal, only-in-the-south-of-France, sunlight.  A breeze rose up from the Mediterranean and I heard yet another person remark with absolute certainty that the outline of Corsica can be seen from the coast of France on a clear day.

This is nonsense.

Maybe, just maybe if you are a young Clark Kent, but even then I doubt it.

Normally after a two hour lunch (wine included) I would have made a bee-line to my apartment, careening into the little parking lot on Place Francis Paulet in a semi-conscious state, drool imminent.  Not caring the slightest if I closed the car door or even had pants on, I would hobble zombie-like to La Placette, stumble inside, and head straight to bed for an afternoon nap.

But not on this day.  I bravely pushed aside my self-induced somnolence and decided to pay a visit Continue reading

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To Catch A Thief: Take 12

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.

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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 Continue reading

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To Catch A Thief: Take 11

Le Stuff’s Definitive Location Guide to Alfred Hitchcock’s Classic Film

Series Post #13

“Have you ever seen any place in the world more beautiful?”
Francie Stevens (Grace Kelly’s character) in To Catch A Thief

TCAT Picnic Scene

It would have been impossible for Grace Kelly to predict what the future held for her as she gazed out over the sun-drenched Cote D’Azur, arms stretched wide, and delivered her line.

She was sitting next to Cary Grant in a light blue Alpine Sports Roadster with cameras, crew, and surely, the ever-present Alfred Hitchcock mere steps away. Below them, down the steep, barren slope, past the expensive villas dotting the hillside, the principality of Monaco lay spread out against the blue Mediterranean.

Kelly would soon marry Monaco’s Prince Ranier and help turn the tiny principality into a wildly popular international tourist destination.  She would Continue reading

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