A Picnic of Chicken, Beer, and Innuendo in To Catch a Thief

updated May 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

In Hitchcock’s lush thriller, To Catch a Thief (1955), a cliff-side picnic lunch gets served up with equal measures of innuendo, elegance, and cheek. Have you seen this film? If not, you must.

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Now retired in style to the French Riviera, John Robie (Cary Grant), a.k.a. “the Cat,” is a reformed jewel thief and former French Resistance hero wrongfully under suspicion for a series of burglaries done by an imitator of his distinctive techniques.

An investigation brings Robie to the thief’s next probable target: Frances “Francie” Stevens (Grace Kelly), an icy-hot American heiress who coyly invites Robie to a picnic in the hills overlooking the sea. Wicker hamper stashed in the trunk, the two take off through the sun-drenched landscape in her sleek convertible, police trailing closely behind. But Francie is unfazed. White-gloved hands on the steering wheel, she swerves past buses, pedestrians, poultry, and narrow cliff-side passes, and leaves the French cops in the dust.

She soon pulls into a quiet, secluded spot overlooking tiled rooftops, bougainvilleas, and blue water. After smoothing her hair with a comb from her purse, she serves lunch.

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

It is a simple meal of cold chicken and beer served from the wicker hamper and eaten sitting in the open-topped car. Robie stretches his legs out the door and drinks his beer directly from the bottle, while Francie stays tucked in her seat, pouring hers into a glass.

She coolly offers him a piece of chicken. There is only the tiniest measure of slyness in her voice: “Do you want a leg or a breast?”

“You make the choice,” Robie says.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

The Celluloid Pantry is a classic column that ran on The Kitchn from 2006 through 2007 that revisited many iconic moments of food and drink in films. We’re taking a trip back through some of our favorites this month, in anticipation of this year’s crop of Oscars. Enjoy!