Paramount’s DVD release of “To Catch a Thief” is filled with extras that may not enlighten Alfred Hitchcock scholars but are sure to please his fans. Interestingly, though, the best of the add-ons is a tribute not to the director, stars or writer, but to costume designer Edith Head.
Head, who won eight Oscars in a 60-year career, said that of all the films she worked on, “Thief” was her favorite. The 14-minute docu here, produced by Light Source & Imagery, covers her work habits, aesthetics and gives an overview of her place in Hollywood history.
Included are interviews with her biographer, David Chierichetti; fellow designer Bob Mackie, who says she was probably not the greatest designer in films but was “brilliant” at packaging herself; and Rosemary Clooney, whom Head dressed for “White Christmas.” The short film is enlightening and entertaining as it covers Head’s relationships with stars, directors, producers, production designers — and the public.
As for the rest, it’s fun, if familiar. There are three mini-docus, varying from seven to 17 minutes in length, all written, directed and produced by Laurent Bauzereau (who also serves as Steven Spielberg’s DVD producer).
The three films focus on the making of “Thief,” the writing and casting, and an appreciation of the film. The comments of the director’s daughter Pat Hitchcock and granddaughter Mary Stone are affectionate, but don’t reveal anything new (the helmer planned everything so meticulously that the actual lensing was almost boring to him; he was fascinated with such themes as an unjustly accused man, etc.). But along the way are some amusing anecdotes by French continuity man Sylvette Baudret and production manager Doc Erickson.
In the days when six hours of extra material is becoming common, the one hour for “Thief,” making its DVD debut, seems chintzy. But, in truth, how much time do viewers want to invest in one film? While the extra material is slight, it’s appropriate to the film, which was designed as frothy fun.