26 January 2008
Climaxing with Grace Kelly
I just watched the new transfer of To Catch a Thief and I think the plot of this film is Grace Kelly changing clothes. The DVD cover says “Mystery, Intrigue, Romance” and it refers to Grace’s wardrobe. Of course we wait too long to see her first—even if Cary Grant’s red polka-dot bandanna is a pleasant diversion. But as soon as he pads up to the beach in those tartan-chic swim trunks Grace takes over. We allow the absurd charade of Grant as an Oregon lumberman because we need to see what she will wear next. From the wide white sunglasses to the sky blue gown and scarf (Mystery) to the sun-yellow morning dress to the flowing black and white bathing costume with huge flopping hat to the transcendent coral-pink driving outfit with white gloves (Intrigue: “would you like a leg or a breast?”) to the climactic strapless white dress and cascading fake diamonds (Romance). Her veranda silhouette is painfully beautiful—we curse the rainbow Monte Carlo fireworks for their paparazzi-like distraction. Grace and Cary purr to a crescendo and fade to black. There are some wide light pajama garments for the morning(s) after. The 18th Century costumes are hardly real—shellacked-on falling action. The story-arc has run its course—I don’t need anything else from the film. There is a ripple of black cats clinging to rooftops and ribbons of car-tracking scenery but nothing matters besides the VistaVision endlessness of Grace’s beauty. Something sad in her gold eye shadow in the morning, something lost for all time in the high Riviera curves.