THE KIDS ASKED: “Who are some other great directors?”
Hitchcock is a really great director.
Should I lie, and tell you I didn’t consider going right to PSYCHO? Back to back with JAWS? Mommy would’ve pulled the plug on Daddy Film School before it even got rolling.
This one was on Netflix, though.
THE WORRIES: Too boring? Too dated? Too much talking? Cary Grant too tan? Would they get the dated references?
To up the tension, I prepped the kids with the excellent “The Man from the North Country” episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents as a primer. The kids loved Peter Lorre. They walked around exclaiming “Cahhhhllllos!” And…it turns out, Steve McQueen is cool, even when you don’t know who Steve McQueen is. But then just as life seems perfect…
FINN (9) ASKS: “Is this guy named after Lightning McQueen?” Sigh.
To Catch a Thief is a classically-paced Hitch films. That means, if you’re like me, you’ll appreciate the tense meandering and deadpan tone. If you’re my family, including my wife, you’ll say it feels “long” and “not enough happens.”
Thank God Mom is only auditing the course.
Still, this is a long swim from JAWS.
And there are some communication breakdowns. The kids are stunned (absolutely flabbergasted) when Grant threatens to put Kelly “over his knee.” And I am truly proud of social progress when they cannot even wrap their brains around this language, or even such a notion, being socially acceptable.
FINN SAYS: “Wait, is like, he really going to spank her? Spank her? Like he’s her dad or something? Is she a baby? She should sue him.” All valid points.
We also spend a good amount of time on the term “cat thief.”
FINN: “So, he steals cats?”
ME: “No. It’s more like, he steals like a cat.”
FINN: “But cats don’t steal.”
ME: “Yeah, but, like, they’re…you know…sneaky-like.”
FINN: “Cats are sneaky?”
CHARLIE (11): “So he’s not going to steal cats?”
THE LESSONS WE LEARN:
- The movie teaches the kids how to watch a mystery. How it unfolds. Why it’s suspenseful. I realize that watching this movie tips them off to the old Hitchcockian “tweest” ending. This will come in handy, later.
- They appreciate the beautiful technicolor scenery. We discuss the innovation of color in film & television.
- Princess Kelly is a local, Ocean City, NJ, celebrity, so we learn about her at the historical society beforehand.
CHARLIE SAY: “It was complex. I didn’t know what to think. I liked that. Cary Grant, I liked him. I thought he was like funny and a lovable guy. He was really clever. I liked what daddy told us about Alfred Hitchcock. I liked seeing him on the bus. I want to know more about him. Where he started. 4 stars.”
Next Up: “Ok, so what about something suspenseful, but also scary?”