**/**** Image A- Sound B Extras C
starring Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Jessie Royce Landis, John Williams
screenplay by John Michael Hayes, based on the book by David Dodge
directed by Alfred Hitchcock
by Walter Chaw If Rear Window is Hitchcock's "testament" movie to that point in 1954 (post-North by Northwest, the term no longer has much meaning), then To Catch a Thief, appearing just a year later, recovers the only element missing from Hitchcock's black chest in Rear Window's exhausting exhumation: homosexuality. Note the way that Cary Grant's cat burglar John Robie is greeted by a former accomplice in scenic Nice: as Grant descends a staircase to an outdoor café run by all the reformed dregs of society once involved with Robie and now resentful that Robie appears to be back on the prowl, the head waiter pops a champagne cork in the first of several ejaculatory similes. I do wonder whether the entire film could in fact be read as a gay "reclamation"--its most famous sequence, the juxtaposition of the central seduction sequence with fireworks over Cannes, begins with Robie being teased for his asexuality, recalling an earlier flirtation with rival Danielle (Brigitte Auber) that ends with Robie asking her to cover her legs. More blatantly, Robie is approached by a muscle stud on the beach as Grace Kelly lounges in the background; and when offered on a picnic the choice between a "breast or a leg," Robie demurs, "You make the choice." Clever double entendres, no question, but what exactly is the second "understanding" that we come to in this series of innuendos? Moreover, what to make of the mother figure, reappearing at key erotic moments in body or direct reference (indeed, Kelly's Frances accuses Robie of thinking of her mother during their first kiss) and comprising the punchline of the picture as Frances threatens to make them a household of three (a literal "ménage a trios"--particularly given the film's setting). That kind of mother-love doesn't reach its apotheosis until Psycho five years hence, but there's something along the way to Hitch's complex Oedipal materphobia that suggests here a certain Freudian gay arrest.