Bright Lights Film Journal

VistaVision Makes Sense now: TO CATCH A THIEF (1955) on Blu-Ray

Say goodbye to this kind of blurry color.. with VistaVision you can reach out and touch the couch!

All but the most obsessive Hitchcock fan will tend towards moderation when it comes to praising TO CATCH A THIEF. Sure it’s got Cary Grant in some awesome gray and dark red ensembles, and the bronzed loveliness of Grace Kelly’s bare shoulders, but until this new blu-ray DVD, the allegedly intoxicating French Riviera scenery was just a grayish brown blur. On washed-out TV pan and scans all those ariel shots and great views just seemed like stock doc travelogue stuff; even on DVD it was little better than scintillating. Now that it just came out on blu-ray, VistaVision suddenly make sense.

VistaVision, it’s also what Hitch shot VERTIGO on… and VERTIGO also seemed far too traveloguey for a supposed top ten of all time classic… at least to me. San Francisco… I been there. So what? Nice bridge. Lots of driving shots. Now, if it was on Blu-Ray I’d get it even though the DVD version I have is pretty damned good. When that wave comes crashing up, I’m sure on blu-ray you could smell the brine and feel the salty sting the image will be so deep and clear.

What I mean is… the CATCH A THIEF blu-ray is awesome, and Netflix doesn’t carry it, because they figure their crap old versions of any film they have are all they ever need. They never upgrade! So if you go to rent a public domain title like HIS GIRL FRIDAY you’re liable to wind up with an Alpha DVD version… that’s just how they are. I love Netflix but man, that is one serious issue they refuse to address, thus hinting they really don’t know shit about cinema’. but whatever, TCAT is only $14 on Amazon, the Blu-ray, I mean…and you should get it, just for the VistaVision!

As Paramount’s press release in 1954 states: In introducing VistaVision, Paramount has introduced the technique of optical reduction from a large negative image to the standard release print image. This is the most important and distinctive feature of VistaVision. It is VistaVision. It is the feature that others must follow if they are to reduce grain, eliminate fuzziness and gain bigger, brighter and better pictures.

What that means is that rather than blowing the negative up to fit a big screen, it’s blown down to blow your mind on a small screen, and f you have a nice big HD flatscreen then good lord are lucky to be a Hitchcock fan in this here post-modern age, now at last you can finally understand why Hitch spends so much time on scenery and sightseeing and sweeping panoramas…it was all for VistaVision!