"To Catch a Thief" 1955

I don't know how many of us have been sucked into the Sunbeam Talbot Alpine thing by this movie. I know I was. I had never actually seen one of these cars in the flesh until I found the one I bought, and I had been looking for five years since I had identified it in the movie! (Like most of us, you will justify buying it because it's "for my wife", or "for my girlfriend".)

This is a quite entertaining film, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and the car does not have just a cameo role as with most car star turns, so you won't be wasting your time checking it out. Edith Head does the costuming, and it's a real morale boost for those of us in Northern climates and who pine for the "good old days" of sophisticated, charming young women, exotic cars and warm climates.

The Alpine is perfectly cast for it's part here, a very sophisticated car for the rich American debutante played by Grace Kelly. Something in which to tour around the French Riviera: elegant and proper but with a definite sporting flair. It's hard to fit another contemporary car into the part after you see it. An XK120 would have the looks but would have been too macho. I often feel as if I would like to hire a couple of dumpy looking French guys in a Citroen "Traction Avant" to chase me around a winding mountain road once in a while just for drill. In the photo here, Grace is giving Cary Grant (the reformed cat burglar, Jean Robie, or is it John Roby?) just such a hair raising ride in what appears to be the Maritime Alps. Grant does a great job of just barely maintaining his cool, savoir faire as he glances repeatedly over to the speedometer.

I don't know either how many STA restorations have foundered on trying to match the "Alpine Mist" color using the movie as a guide. The Technicolor is not very stable, and it looks different every time I see it. The last time I saw the movie the body color looked a lot darker, so, what I am thinking is that the color is really "Sapphire Blue" which did come with "Fawn" leather seats. Alpine mist is actually a very silvery blue. Speaking of those seats, you will note a picnic scene in the movie. I guess Cary didn't know that those big luxurious leather seats are designed to be taken out of the car just for such occasions so that ladies and gentlemen won't have to sit around on the ground like animals! Guess Robie didn't really have as much savoir faire as we thought, not knowing that detail. Well, what can you expect from a Delahaye driver ?


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