To Catch a Thief (film)

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To Catch a Thief is a 1955 film about a former thief suspected of a new series of crimes who tries to find the real culprit and the woman who romances him.

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Written by John Michael Hayes, based on the novel by David Dodge.
Wanted by the police in all the luxury-spots of Europe!... A catch for any woman! Taglines
Spoiler warning: Plot, ending, or solution details follow.

John Robie

  • What I can't understand is how this thief can imitate me so perfectly. It has to be someone who knew every detail of my technque. Maybe somebody in the police...He picks perfect victims and only the right stones. Goes up walls, over the roofs, down through the skylights. Leaves no clue and then disappears in the night...If somebody caught this imitator, we'd all be off the hook, wouldn't we?...No one believes me, but the police are chasing the wrong man. Someone's got to start chasing the right one...I've got to catch this imitator myself...I can anticipate him, try to figure out his next move, and then get there ahead of him and catch him with his hands right in the jewel case...The biggest problem is time. I've got to hit this copy-cat before he hears I'm after him. To catch him in the act, I need better information than he has, the kind that takes months to dig out.
  • [to Hughson] You don't have to spend every day of your life proving your honesty, but I do.
  • I might even retire here...Quite a few of the roofs need careful examination.
  • Newspapers have their headlines, all the rich tourists can relax, and you Lepic got your publicity and possibly your commendation from the Paris office.
  • [about Foussard's funeral] I'll get to see the real cat - who will certainly be there purring.
  • [at a costume ball] Any man without a lady on his arm can only be a policeman.
  • [after unmasking Danielle] I figured it was you the night your father died. He couldn't climb anything, and you always did his legwork for him even during the war when you were a kid.

Francie Stevens

  • Palaces are for royalty. We're just common people with a bank account.
  • [to Robie] You've got a very strong grip - the kind a burglar needs.

Mrs. Jessie Stevens

  • [about her jewelry] I didn't buy these things for my old age. I bought them to wear.
  • [to Hughson] Put your money away, Hughson. You can cheat a little on your expense account.
  • [to Frances, about Robie] I wouldn't mind buying that for you.
  • [about her late husband] He never realized how valuable the ground was he had his feet on...We had a ranch. It wasn't a very big one. No plumbing. A little thing out back. Poor Jeremiah, he'll never know how close he came to twenty million barrels of oil.
  • And so to bed where I can cuddle up to my rare and wonderful as they are, I think I'd rather have a hundred thousand Jeremiahs.
  • I have no more affection for that jewelry than I have for a train ticket that gets me somewhere.
  • Since when is love a crime?

Danielle Foussard

  • [to Robie] Did I brush your fur the wrong way?
  • [to Robie] It must be true what they say. Cats don't like water.
  • [to Robie, about her father] It's because of you he's dead...Get out of here - killer...Murderer!


Danielle: I was just thinking about you, imagining you in your expensive villa enjoying life, while we work like idiots for a loaf of bread.
Robie: I work for a living too - raising grapes and flowers.
Danielle: And rubies, and diamonds, and pearls...I've always dreamed of going to South America. People say it's a virgin country. I can cook, sew, keep my mouth shut and peddle stolen jewels on the black market...

Robie: What happens to you if I'm caught?
Hughson: I might be embarrassed, even censured officially.
Robie: They could put me away for good.
Hughson: You made a bad choice of professions.
Robie: Then, let's come to an understanding. I'm doing you a favor. I take all the risks. You get all the jewelry back.
Hughson: Mr. Smith. It strikes me that only an honest man would be so foolish.
Robie: Thank you.

Hughson: You are a man of obvious good taste in everything. How did you - I mean, why did you...?
Robie: Why did I take up stealing?...To live better, to own things I couldn't afford, to acquire this good taste which you now enjoy and which I should be very reluctant to give up.
Hughson: Oh, you mean you were frankly dishonest.
Robie: I tried to be.
Hughson: You know, I thought you'd have some defense, some tale of hardship - your mother ran off when you were young, your father beat you, or something.
Robie: Naah, no. I was a member of an American trapeze act in the circus that traveled in Europe. It folded and I was stranded, so I put my agility to a more rewarding purpose.
Hughson: You have no other defense.
Robie: No. For what it's worth, I only stole from people who wouldn't go hungry...
Hughson: I take it you were a sort of modern Robin Hood. I mean, you gave away most of the proceeds of your crimes.
Robie: Kept everything myself. Well, let's face it, I was an out-and-out thief, like you.
Hughson: Steady, old man.
Robie: No, no, wait a minute. Have you ever taken an ashtray from a hotel or a towel?
Hughson: Souvenirs, they expect that.
Robie: You're given an expense allowance to pay for all the meals you eat on the job. Right? But this meal is free. Now, are you going to deduct the price of a lunch from your expense account? Well, of course you're not. It would be stupid. Do you agree?
Hughson: Yes.
Robie: You're a thief. Only an amateur thief, of course, but it will help you to sympathize with us professionals.

Hughson: The pastries are light as air.
Robie: Germaine has very sensitive hands and an exceedingly light touch. She strangled a German general - without a sound.

Francie: Maybe Mr. Houston doesn't care for gambling.
Mrs. Stevens: Everyone likes to gamble in one way or another, even you!
Francie: I have an intense dislike for it.
Mrs. Stevens: [looking at the men in the room] Francie, dear, when the stakes are right, you'll gamble!

Mrs. Stevens: [to Robie] How come you haven't made a pass at my daughter? [to Frances] And don't say, 'Oh, Mother!' to me. Mr. Burns, I asked you a question.
Robie: Very pretty, quietly attractive.
Mrs. Stevens: Yeah, but too nice. Sorry I ever sent her to that finishing school. I think they finished her there.

Danielle: Don't you think it's foolish to remain here without knowing what will happen to you? But if you were in South America with me, you will know exactly what will happen.
Robie: You make it sound dangerous either way.
Danielle: It would be so much nicer to be killed by love, no?
Robie: Ah, pardon me while I get the water out of my ear.
Danielle: John, you know what sort of men they are at Bretani's. Another robbery and they will do something to you.
Robie: Well, I'd better get back.
Danielle: [about Francie] But what has she got more than me - except money, and you are getting plenty of that.
Robie: Danielle, you are just a girl. She is a woman.
Danielle: Why do you want to buy an old car if you can get a new one cheaper? It will run better and last longer.
Robie: Well, it looks as if my old car just drove off.
Francie: No, it hasn't, it's just turned amphibious. I thought I'd come out and see what the big attraction was.
Robie: Yes.
Francie: And possibly even rate an introduction.
Robie: [to Danielle] Oh, uh, you didn't tell me your name.
Danielle: Danielle Foussard.
Robie: Miss Foussard - Miss Stevens.
Francie: How do you do, Miss Foussard. Mr. Burns has told me so little about you.
Robie: Well, we only met a couple of minutes ago.
Danielle: That's right, only a few minutes ago.
Francie: Only a few minutes ago? And you talk like old friends. Ah well, that's warm, friendly France for you.
Robie: [to Frances] I was asking about renting some water-skis. Would you like me to teach you how to water ski?
Francie: Thank you, but I was women's champion at Sarasota, Florida last season.
Robie: Well, it was just an idea.
Francie: Are you sure you were talking about water-skis? From where I sat, it looked as though you were conjugating some irregular verbs.
Robie: Say something nice to her, Danielle.
Danielle: She looks a lot older, up close.
Robie: Ohhh -
Francie: To a mere child, anything over twenty might seem old.
Danielle: A child? Shall we stand in shallower water and discuss that?
Francie: Enjoying yourself, Mr. Burns?
Robie: Oh yes, it's very nice out here, with the sun and all.
Francie: Well, it's too much for me. I'll see you at the hotel.
Robie: [laughing nervously] I'll go with you.
Danielle: But Mr. Burns, you didn't finish telling me why French women are more seductive than American women?
Robie: I know what I'd like to tell you!

Francie: Do you have time for me, now?
Robie: I'm sorry I was so long out there at the float.
Francie: From what I saw of that girl, I thought you'd be a lot longer.

Francie: I've been waiting all day for you to mention that kiss I gave you last night.
Robie: You know, back home in Oregon, we'd call you a headstrong girl.
Francie: Where in Oregon, the Rogue River?
Robie: Where were you born?
Francie: In a taxi halfway between home and the hospital. I've lived in twenty-seven different towns and cities.
Robie: Was somebody chasing you?
Francie: Boys.
Robie: Well, you can stop running now.

Francie: I had the funny feeling that all they wanted was to get their hands on my money.
Robie: Oh, I'm impressed. Well, on second thought, back home in Oregon, we'd have called you a rich, headstrong girl. That would have made it all right.
Francie: Money handles most people.
Robie: Do you honestly believe that?
Francie: I've proved it.
Robie: You're a singular girl.
Francie: Is that good or bad?
Robie: Oh, it's good, it's quite good. You know what you want. You go out after it and nothing stops you from getting it.
Francie: You make it sound corny.
Robie: Oh no, you're a jackpot of admirable character traits.
Francie: I already knew that.
Robie: Yes, I will say you do things with dispatch. No wasted preliminaries. Not only did I enjoy that kiss last night, I was awed by the efficiency behind it.
Francie: Well, I'm a great believer of getting down to essentials.
Robie: What do you expect out of me?
Francie: Probably a lot more than you're willing to offer.

Francie: The man I want doesn't have a price.
Robie: [chuckling] Well, that eliminates me...You're absolutely right. Give me a woman who knows her own mind.
Francie: No one would give you a woman like that. You have to capture her.
Robie: Any particular method?
Francie: Yes, but it's no good unless you discover it yourself.

Francie: [about why she never wears jewelry] I don't like cold things touching my skin.
Robie: Why don't you invent some hot diamonds?
Francie: I'd rather spend my money on more tangible excitement.
Robie: Tell me, what do you get a thrill out of most?
Francie: I'm still looking for that one...
Robie: You are husband-hunting after all.
Francie: That wasn't jealousy you heard working, merely disappointment in your limited imagination. Teenaged French girls yet. Oh, I bet you snowed her under. The big handsome lumberman from America. I'll bet you told her all your trees were Sequoias.
Robie: You know, that certainly sounds like jealousy to me. Don't be ashamed of it - let it out.
Francie: You're somewhat egotistical.
Robie: Fighting fire with fire. Miss Stevens.
Francie: Yes, Mr. Burns.
Robie: You know what I think?
Francie: About what?
Robie: You.
Francie: I don't really care... Tell me.
Robie: You're an insecure, pampered woman accustomed to attracting men. But you're not quite sure whether they're attracted to you or to your money. You may never know.
Francie: Anything else?
Robie: What you need is something I have neither the time nor the inclination to give you.
Francie: Oh, and just what is that?
Robie: Two weeks with a good man at Niagara Falls.

Francie: Do you want a leg or a breast?
Robie: You make the choice.

Francie: I've never caught a jewel thief before. It's stimulating. It's like...
Robie: sitting in a hot tub?

Francie: I think Lady Kenton should be our next job.
Robie: Now listen. [He firmly grabs her wrist]
Francie: Isn't she on your list? She ought to be. Kenton jewels are famous. I know every inch of her villa.
Robie: I can already hear your next line.
Francie: The Cat has a new kitten. When do we start?
Robie: Don't talk like that.
Francie: You're leaving fingerprints on my arm.
Robie: I am not John Robie the Cat.

Robie: I can't come. I'm going to the casino and watch a firework display.
Francie: You'd get a better view from my place.
Robie: Already got another date.
Francie: Everywhere you'll go, I'll have you paged as John Robie the Cat. 8 o'clock, and be on time.
Robie: I haven't got a decent watch.
Francie: Steal one.

Bertani: There will be many women, rich jewels.
Robie: Just the bait I need.
Bertani: Something the Cat can't resist, huh?

Francie: If you really want to see fireworks, it's better with the lights out. [She turns off the lamps in the room one by one] I have a feeling that tonight, you're going to see one of the Riviera's most fascinating sights...I was talking about the fireworks.
Robie: I never doubted it.
Francie: The way you looked at my necklace, I didn't know. You've been dying to say something about it all evening. Go ahead.
Robie: Why, have I been staring at it?
Francie: No, you've been trying to avoid it.
Robie: May I have a brandy?
Francie: Please.
Robie: Do you care for one?
Francie: No. thank you. Some nights a person doesn't need to drink. Doesn't it make you nervous to be in the same room with thousands of dollars' worth of diamonds and unable to touch them?
Robie: No.
Francie: Like an alcoholic outside of a bar on election day.
Robie: [He laughs] Wouldn't know the feeling.
Francie: All right. You've studied the layout, drawn your plans, worked out your timetable, put on your dark clothes with your crepe-soled shoes and your rope. Maybe your face blackened. And you're over the roofs in the darkness, down the side wall to the right apartment, and the window's locked. All that elation turned into frustration. What would you do?
Robie: I'd go home, get a good night's sleep.
Francie: Oh, what would you do? [She steps into the darkness that hides only her face] The thrill is right there in front of you, but you can't quite get it - and the gems glistening on the other side of the window, and someone asleep, breathing heavily.
Robie: I'd go home, get a good night's sleep.
Francie: Wouldn't you use a glass cutter, a brick, your fist - anything to get what you wanted? Knowing it was just there waiting for you?
Robie: [He sips his brandy] Oh, forget it.
Francie: Drinking dulls your senses.
Robie: Yeah, and if I'm lucky, some of my hearing.
Francie: [She fondles her necklace] Blue-white with just hairlike touches of platinum.
Robie: You know, I have about the same interest in jewelry that I have in politics, horseracing, modern poetry, or women who need weird excitement: none.
Francie: Hold this necklace in your hand and tell me you're not John Robie, 'the Cat.' John, tell me something. You're going to rob that villa we cased this afternoon, aren't you? Oh, I suppose 'rob' is archaic. You'd say, 'knock over'?
Robie: Oh -
Francie: Don't worry, I'm very good at secrets.
Robie: Tell me, have you ever been on a psychiatrist's couch?
Francie: Don't change the subject. I know the perfect time to do it: Next week, the Sanfords are holding their annual gala. Everyone who counts will be there. I'll get you an invitation. It's an 18th-century costume affair. There will be thousands upon thousands of dollars' worth of the world's most elegant jewelry. Some of the guests will be staying for the weekend. We'll get all the information, and we'll do it together. What do you say?
Robie: My only comment would be highly censorable.
Francie: [She sits alluringly on the couch, displaying both her necklace and bare decolletage] Give up, John. Admit who you are. Even in this light, I can tell where your eyes are looking. [He sits down] Look, John. Hold them. Diamonds. Only thing in the world you can't resist. Then tell me you don't know what I'm talking about. [She kisses his fingers, one by one, then puts her necklace in the palm of his hand] Ever had a better offer in your whole life? One with everything?
Robie: I've never had a crazier one.
Francie: Just as long as you're satisfied.
Robie: You know as well as I do this necklace is imitation.
Francie: Well, I'm not. [They kiss]

Robie: My name is John Robie. I used to be a jewel thief several years ago.
Mrs. Stevens: Well, what a wonderful surprise!

Francie: I called the police from your room and told them who you are and everything you've been doing tonight.
Robie: Everything? The boys must have really enjoyed that at headquarters!

Mrs. Stevens: [to Francie, about Robie] He's a swindler and a real man. Not one of those milksops you generally take up with. Why do you think we moved so many times, hmm? Your father was a swindler, dear, but a loveable one. If you ask me, this one's a bigger operator on every level.
Robie: Thank you, madam.
Francie: Mother, this is why I've had to spend half my life traveling around the world after you, to keep men like this away from you.
Mrs. Stevens: Well, after this, let me run my own interference. Looks like the blockers are having all the fun.
Francie: If she doesn't have any common sense, I do.
Mrs. Stevens: Oh, shut up! They were my baubles that were stolen. If I don't care, why should you? They're insured.

Mrs. Stevens: You ought to be spanked with a hairbrush and sent back to school - public school, where they could pound some sense into you during recess.
Francie: He's a low worthless thief.
Mrs. Stevens: Just what did he steal from you?

Francie: Let me do something to help you.
Robie: Oh, no thanks. Now you've just made your apologies. Let's just go back to our mutual disregard of each other, hmm?
Francie: Mr. Robie. I was wrong about you, I think. You might possibly be wrong about me.
Robie: Well now, that's another thing that I may never know. If you'll pardon me...[He turns to leave - and she grabs his arm]
Francie: I won't pardon you. I'm in love with you!
Robie: That's a ridiculous thing to say.
Francie: Is it?
Robie: To you, words are just playthings.
Francie: [pouting] Word playthings.
Robie: I'll make you a sporting, exciting offer.
Francie: I don't know if I'm up to it now.

Francie: Oh, John, you left in such a hurry you almost ran.
Robie: I had work to do up here.
Francie: Were you afraid to admit that you just can't do everything by yourself and that you needed the help of a good woman? And you just aren't the lone wolf you think you are.
Robie: All right. Without you, I couldn't have done. I needed the help of a woman. I guess I'm not the lone wolf I thought I was, Francie.
Francie: Well, I just wanted to hear you say that. Thank you. [She extends her hand] Goodbye.
Robie: Goodbye. [He pulls her arm toward him for an embrace and kiss]
Francie: [opening her eyes] So this is where you live. Oh, Mother will love it up here!


  • Wanted by the police in all the luxury-spots of Europe!... A catch for any woman!
  • For a moment he forgets he's a thief -- and she forgets she's a lady!


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