In Search of David Dodge

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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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