A retired cat burglar works to clear his name when a series of jewel robberies are carried out in his style.
In addition to being one of my favorite Hitchcock films (there are quite a few), To Catch a Thief (1955), is a film filled with many food moments, making it a sure-fire selection for food & a film.
The first noteable food moment in To Catch a Thief is an early scene where John Robie visits Bertani’s Restaurant. Having evaded the police at the start of the film, John catches a bus to Monaco to pay a visit to his old comrade Bertani. The camera pans across the outdoor dining area as John makes his way inside to the office. There are many patrons dining al fresco along the waterfront, and although there is plenty of food being enjoyed, we do not really see any of it close-up (aside from a thrown egg and a saucer of milk in the kitchen, both meant for John Robie, “The Cat”).
A scene where we do see what the characters are eating, is when John hosts Hughson at his home for lunch. The pair enjoy some wine before sitting down to a meal of soup and Quiche Lorraine, accompanied by a basket of French bread rolls.
There are also a couple of food & drink moments at the hotel where Frances and Jessie Stevens are staying. First, there is the scene where we are introduced to Frances and Jessie who have just concluded a dinner with Hughson at their hotel. Their evening ends with the trio, joined by John, enjoying some cocktails (bourbon for Jessie) after a bit of gambling in the hotel casino. Additionally, there is the breathtaking fireworks scene between Frances and John in Frances’ hotel suite. The scene opens with the room service cart being wheeled out of the suite following dinner, which has occurred off-screen, with John then heading to the room’s bar to fix himself a drink. In each of these scenes, food and/or drink is referenced, but not blatanly featured, with the exception of Jessie’s bourbon.
Furthermore, at the end of the film there is the grand costume ball that Bertani’s Restaurant caters with plenty of champagne and festive food being served, but not greatly featured on-screen.
However, the standout food scene in To Catch a Thief, as well as the moment I wanted to recreate for food & a film, is the cliff-side picnic of chicken and beer that Frances and John share following a car chase.
When retrieving the chicken from the picnic basket, Frances asks John whether he would like “a leg or a breast?” While I was unable to find a vegan version of a whole chicken leg or breast, I was able to find vegan drumsticks at the same market I found the vegan lobster for Rear Window. Also, unlike the chicken in To Catch a Thief, these drumsticks are nicely seasoned and do not need to be salted prior to eating.
Even though Frances and John only enjoy chicken and beer during their picnic, I decided to round out the meal with a petite salade verte and a demi baguette.
Although the vintage French beer bottle has long been empty, the beer glass does contain a vegan friendly beer. And as for the “picnic blanket,” I went with a French fabric that contains colors heavily employed throughout the film, particularly in the picnic scene.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s installment of food & a film. Until next week!