Dear Hollywood: If You Must Remake To Catch a Thief, Consider These 5 Guidelines

tocatchathief300.jpgMaybe it's a sign of the times. When I first read the headline about the To Catch a Thief remake, my first thought wasn't, "You bastards!" but instead, "At least it's not Vertigo!" This reaction may have less to do with supporting the remake, and more to do with selectively choosing which completely futile mental battles I wage against remake announcements, but still! Since this movie is probably still several rewrites away from production, I'd like to suggest a few simple guidelines to follow in order to avoid completely ruining everything that made the original work.

1. Keep the international setting

One of the more heartening things -- actually the only heartening thing -- in Josh Stolberg's interview about the script was the fact that he and Bobby Florsheim chose to set it on the Greek island of Santorini. It's an inspired, exotic location for the update -- which was originally set on the French Riveria -- and Greece is a beautiful country that few Hollywood productions explore. Seriously, if the setting changes back to Miami, I'm giving up. The original worked less because of its plot and more because watching beautiful people play cat and mouse in an exotic and beautiful place is fun! On that note...

2. Cast beautiful people

I'm not so worried about this one. Hollywood generally makes sure that everybody is beautiful in heist thrillers. But here's the trickier part: Both actors should also have style, class and sophistication. I've been trying to think of a modern day equivalent to Grace Kelly and I'm coming up short... any suggestions?

3. About those gadgets you mentioned...

I'm all for modernizing the story -- after all, a totally faithful remake wouldn't just be insulting, but also totally pointless (see: Gus Van Sant's Psycho). That said, if the heist involves any computers or online fraud whatsoever, just know that this movie will be much more boring than the original. I'd also suggest not letting the gadgets overwhelm things like character and plot, but given than Stolberg has already invented the word "gadgety" to describe the movie, I suspect it's too late.

4. About those action scenes you mentioned...

OK, fine. Just don't let the action scenes overwhelm the character and plot! Suspenseful and even convoluted heist scenes are great, but I'd rather see one scene that even comes close to capturing the chemistry between Kelly and Grant in the original than a dozen more explosions.

5. Consider hiring Brian De Palma to direct

He's already unofficially remade several Hitchcock films with Obsession, Body Double and Dressed to Kill, and those movies are amazing! In fact, hire De Palma and I'll be there opening day whether any of these other suggestions are taken or not. You can even set it in Miami!


  • Tom says:

    Brian De Palma would be a great idea for a director. I could kiss you on the mouth for saying that, Movieline. Make it happen!

  • Vince says:

    Only one problem some idiot(s) will want Matt Damon or Johnny Depp
    for the Grant role, the only man around today who comes close to Grant and is still not too old is Pierce Brosnan or maybe this Henry Calvine who's going to play Superman

  • snideproject says:

    Hugh Laurie/Freida Pinto ... Javier Bardem/Penelope Cruz ... Vincent Cassel/Angelina Jolie ... Clive Owen/Noomi Rapace

  • a movie fan says:

    Cary Grant was a comedian with a great flair for comedy and drama. I would use Ryan Reynolds and Mila Kunis

  • Remy says:

    6th guideline: Don't do it.
    But if you absolutely have to, hire Jon Hamm and Gwyneth Paltrow, and get Joe Wright to direct it. And you better make sure the plot is airtight because the critics won't let you get away with anything less, no matter how well you manage to recreate Hitchcockian charm and glamour.

  • Brad says:

    My suggestion for Grace Kelley's role would be Charlize Theron. Beauty and class all the way, in my opinion.

  • Cribbster says:

    January Jones is definitely a Grace Kelly equivalent in the looks department. She's not a great actor though. Clive Owen is a good suggestion. He's darker than Grant, but he definitely exudes sophistication. Also, Mila Kunis isn't a bad suggestion either. Gwyneth Paltrow looks the part, but she lacks Kelly's sharpness and wit that made the role so memorable. I would also suggest Soderbergh for obvious reasons. Or someone who's good with characters and could probably also pull off action like Stephen Frears. This is sort of off-the-wall, but I'd be interested in Spike Lee's take on it. I would bet he's a fan of the original, and he did a fantastic job on "Inside Man." His passion projects haven't exactly been striking gold–save for the docs–but with that movie he proved himself a very good genre practitioner capable of bringing his own flair to a story. And if he wanted a black guy in the role, Chiwetel Ejiofor could probably be very good, though I don't know whether he could successfully open a movie.

  • Chasmosaur says:

    I would almost say Cate Blanchett, or even Tilda Swinton. Both of them - when properly costumed - are luminous and intelligent.

  • Manny says:

    Obvious would be George Clooney and January Jones; but that would be trying to remake the actors, not the film. I'd still watch it!

  • Brian Clark says:

    I like this Bardem/Cruz idea a lot. Clive Owen is a good choice too!

  • Brian Clark says:

    I too would see Spike Lee's To Catch a Thief

  • Bobby Florsheim says:

    Hi Brian,
    Josh and I read your article today and wanted to let you and your readers know our take on things with the script. First off, you should know we LOVE the orignal film and the last thing we want to do is desecrate a classic. When I was in 9th grade in 1984, I saw a re-release of Rear Window and it remains my favorite film of all time. On my way home from school for the next 2 weeks, I rented a different Hitchcock film each night and had 2 of the best weeks of my life. To Catch A Thief remains in my top 3 Hitch movies.
    Addressing your notes, I don't know how much we're allowed to talk about the script, so I'll err on the side of discretion.
    1) Locations. Santorini is one of the bigger set pieces, but we're all over the coolest most romantic places in Europe. Including Monte Carlo and the Riviera from the original. No Miami in sight.
    2) Casting. Obviously, we have little say here. But rest assured the studio isn't going to make it with two unknowns. Like the orignal, the leads need to be dashing and cool -- but it's also the closest movie Hitch made to a romantic (almost screwball) comedy, with razor fast witty banter. This is definately a film for actors with a handle on both angles.
    3) Josh mispoke somewhat when he called the film "gagety" -- it came off the cuff in an hour+ phone interview. What he meant to say is: We've tried to update the setpieces to make them cool and modern. If you look at the original, it's people tiptoeing on rooftops with no alarms in sight. While John Robie is still "The Cat" -- and one hell of an acrobat -- he's up against much more formidable defenses in 2011. So, yes, there's some very cool tech in it. But no, it's never at the expense of very cool, physically intense heists.
    4) Action vs. Banter. As I said above, this movie is very much a two-hander. Our approach of script is always characters first. If you make the coolest action movie in the world and don't care about the characters, what's the point? The movie fails. Doubly so in TCAT, which is equal parts romantic comedy.
    5. Again, not my department. However, if we could get Brian De Palma at 26 years old, I'd be with you in a heart beat. He was one of my favorite directors growing up. Scarface? Done. That said, he hasn't made a great movie in 15-20 years in my opinion (Black Dahlia Fun Club, flame away). Not that he doesn't have it in him to do a killer job, I just don't know if the studios give directors a chance after a certain time. For better or worse, the hottest kid on the block gets to pick first. And so on.
    I hope this was helpful.
    We loved writing the script, and we're very proud of how it turned out. Fingers crossed we'll get to see it made soon!
    Bobby Florsheim

  • snideproject says:

    Thanks. I also think Robert Downey Jr could pull off playing a sophisticated cat-burgler with a past. But these are just my dream choices. We all know they'll end up casting their boring, white, go-to "charmers" like freaking Jude Law and Anne Hathaway. Pass.

  • Brian Clark says:

    Hi Bobby, thanks for reading and taking the time to respond. That all sounds great - Though I think the first 45 minutes of Femme Fatale alone still make De Palma more qualified than most working directors... but I see what you're saying.