Walking through the Grace Kelly exhibit at the Lightbox is pretty grim. Kelly is reduced to her handbags and replica lace wedding dress, to generic quotes about hoping to be remembered for being kind and honest, sounding as if they were spewed from the Principality of Monaco’s press agent back in 1956. But if you haven’t had a chance to see the Hitchcock blonde’s Oscar yet, you can at least see her in, you know, one of the films that she acted in.
Arguably one of Hitchcock’s more dull films—except for those terrifying point-of-view shots as Kelly speeds her way along the narrow roads of the French Riveria—To Catch a Thief has a very tanned Cary Grant, a newly minted Oscar winner Kelly and, perfectly in tandem with the aforementioned Kelly exhibit, a gazillion beautiful dresses by the famous Edith Head. Grant plays the mysterious reformed jewel thief John Robie, wooing the playgirl American heiress Frances Stevens (Kelly) with his bronzed visage and impressive grip. When diamonds start to go missing, however, several well-manicured eyebrows are raised and suspicion over Robie begin to surface. Lush, lavish, and complete with a masquerade ball that makes Marie Antoinette look positively demure, visually To Catch a Thief remains, like those aforementioned diamonds, really pretty.
Now the apt reader may point out it is hypocritical to take down the Kelly exhibit for being superficial while lauding To Catch a Thief for its VistaVision splendor and endless wardrobe department. But if we are going to remember Kelly as a fashion icon it may as well be with her body in those gowns, on screen, reminding us that beyond being beautiful, she also could act.