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Location trip to the French Riviera, June 2006

 

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By Alain Kerzoncuf and Nándor Bokor

The pictures on the left are frames from Alfred Hitchcock's "To Catch a Thief" (1955). The corresponding photos on the right were taken by us in June 2006.

Promenade des Anglais, Nice

Nice, the Promenade des Anglais. The big dome on top of the prestigious Hotel Negresco is seen in the background:

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Avenue Foch, Nice

Nice, the central police station on Avenue Foch. As seen on the last two photos, there is still a pharmacy on the corner opposite the police station:

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Saint-Jeannet

Robie's villa in the village of Saint-Jeannet. Although we found the villa itself, we couldn't find a spot to match this frame of the film, with the villa in the foreground and the "Baou de Saint-Jeannet" (the huge cliff) in the background:

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Robie's villa in Saint-Jeannet, on Road D18. We talked to the lady who owns the villa now. She doesn't let visitors enter the villa, but she kindly allowed us to take pictures outside. The plane tree at the driveway is still standing (see the first two photos of the set):

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Le Bar sur Loup

The village of Le Bar sur Loup, shown in the famous chase scene, one of the earliest helicopter shots in cinema history. We couldn't match the camera angles, of course, but the buildings were easily identifyable:

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Tourrettes sur Loup

The chase then continues to the nearby village of Tourrettes sur Loup:

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Saint-Jeannet

We are back to Robie's villa in Saint-Jeannet. Looking out from the bus Robie sees, in front of the police car, the same plane tree (last photos) that we saw before:

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Hotel Carlton, Cannes

The beach of Hotel Carlton in Cannes:

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Boulevard Jean Jaurès, Nice

This scene is supposed to take place in the flower market in Nice. The scene, however, had NOT been shot in the traditional location of the flower market itself (which still IS the location of the flower market), but in the much more spacious Boulevard Jean Jaurès, a few hundred meters away:

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Hotel Carlton, Cannes

The interior of Hotel Carlton in Cannes. The restaurant (first photos) with its Corinthian columns is still clearly identifyable, but the lobby has changed significantly. Room 623 (last photos) is in reality a corner room, and its door makes a 45-degree angle with the two intersecting corridors (not shown on our photo):

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Outside Hotel Carlton in Cannes. As seen, the car park in front of the hotel has become a garden:

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Cap Ferrat

The contour of beautiful Cap Ferrat in the background:

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La Croix des Gardes, Cannes

An important scene takes place at the "Sanford villa" in the film. First we found the location of the villa itself: it is in a luxurious district of Cannes called La Croix des Gardes. The address is 145 Boulevard Leader, Cannes. We could not enter the property, but the mountains behind Cary Grant and Grace Kelly are easily identifyable, as is the semi-circular stone wall, shown from the outside and below on our photo. (This villa and the garden that belongs to it are doubly significant for any film buff: they are shown not only in "To Catch A Thief", but in Alain Resnais's "L'année dernière à Marienbad" (1961) as well.)

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Grasse Saint François

The entrance at 145 Boulevard Leader, however, does not match what is shown in the film, and it took us a few more days to solve this mystery. In the village of Saint-Cézaire a man recognized the gate on our printouts, and sent us to the nearby town of Grasse, to a quarter called Saint François, where we indeed found the entrance! The entrance in Grasse Saint François belongs to a large property called "Le Château". It seems that at the time of the filming "Le Château" belonged to a rich family called Shley, who had connections to the "jet set" (such as the Onassis family and several movie people), and whom Hitchcock knew personally. This may be the reason that he chose to use this entrance instead of the "proper" one in La Croix des Gardes.

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Èze

Cary Grant and Grace Kelly are followed by the police on this picturesque bridge at the beautiful village of Èze:

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After several shots showing winding mountains roads, Hitchcock's camera goes back to Èze again, to show Grace Kelly's car speeding past some buildings (and a plane tree, see the last photo) in the village:

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La Turbie

The scene with the old lady with the laundry (who is almost run over by Grace Kelly's car) takes place in the village of La Turbie, on Avenue de la Victoire:

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The Picnic Scene

We tried very hard (unsuccessfully) to find the exact location of the picnic scene. This is the closest that we could get, showing a hairpin bend (first photo), Monaco in the background on one side (second photo), and Cap Martin on the other side (third photo):

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Cannes

Lighttower in Cannes. At the extreme left on the last photo (with the two towers) is Le Suquet, a famous district of Cannes:

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Cannes. Again, Le Suquet is seen in the background. The present location of the Cannes Festival Palace is just out of frame, to the left:

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Cagnes sur Mer

The old cemetery in Cagnes sur Mer, where the funeral of Foussard takes place in the film. The spiral stairs in the background, as well as individual tombstones are clearly identifyable. See, for example, the characteristically shaped tombstone of the Russo Family, which only had one name written on it in the film (Nathalie Russo, died in 1945), but there are two more names on it now (François Fangoso, died in 1971, and Blaise Russo, died in 1984). Note, also, that the background behind Cary Grant in the last frame (obviously back projection) is entirely different from the actual view that matches the camera angle in front of the cemetery. Hitchcock – or his second unit crew – might have looked at the actual place and might have decided in favour of a more picturesque background for Cary Grant.

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Saint-Jeannet

The village of Saint-Jeannet, seen behind Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in the final scene.

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Sylvette Baudrot's Photographs

The following unique black-and-white photos (some of them with our matching photos) are from the private collection of Sylvette Baudrot, who worked as the French script supervisor during the filming.

Hitchcock sitting under a tree at the entrance of Tourrettes sur Loup. Also seen are second unit director Herbert Coleman, and the film's American script supervisor, Claire Behnke Mason:


Hitchcock in Tourrettes sur Loup (note the house in the background, clearly identifyable on our photo):


Hitchcock and crew in Tourrettes sur Loup:


Claire Behnke Mason next to a milestone in Tourrettes sur Loup. The milestone (which is now broken, as Alain Kerzoncuf points out on our photo) is shown in the film too.


Sylvette Baudrot (left) and Claire Behnke Mason (right) in Tourrettes sur Loup. The houses in the background are shown in the film, too.


Hitchcock with Claire Behnke Mason and a flock of sheep in Tourrettes sur Loup:


Hitchcock in Grasse Saint François:


Hitchcock with Herbert Coleman, location unknown:


We express our deep gratitude to Sylvette Baudrot for her kind assistance.

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