David Dodge and Alfred Hitchcock had differing views about John Robie, the Cat, the protagonist of To Catch a Thief. Dodge’s character is thirty-four years old and plump. Hitchcock’s Robie is Cary Grant, and his love interest Francis Stevens is Grace Kelly.
There isn’t a picnic in David Dodge’s novel, but Hitchcock thought it was necessary for action and local color. It’s a remarkable picnic that begins as a reckless motorcar ride and ends when Francis Stevens attempts to seduce Robie. Joh Michael Hayes’ sparkling dialog of sexual innuendos sets the tone perfectly. So once Robie, who has nerves of steel, regains control of his equilibrium, Stevens unpacks a wicker and offers Robie some chicken: “Do you want a leg or a breast?” she asks. Delicately sensing the innuendo, Robie answers, “You make the choice.” And when Francis gives him a leg, Robie eats so daintily that it might as well be made of nitroglycerine.
Featured Image: Never has a chicken picnic been the subject of such erotic banter. Alfred Hitchcock. To Catch a Thief (1955). Screenplay by John Michael Hayes and Alec Coppel based on David Dodge’s novel (1952). Paramount Pictures.
See David Dodge. To Catch a Thief. New York: Random House, 1952; Hilary Radner. “To Catch a Thief: Light Reading on a Dark Topic,” in Hitchcock at the Source: The Auteur as Adapter, edited by R. Barton Palmer and David Boyd. Albany, New York: SUNY Press, 2013
*Tragically, actress Grace Kelly died when her motorcar missed a turn and drove off a cliff in the same locale as her fictional drive in the film.