I love classic movies. One of the biggest things I miss about home while living abroad is TCM – Turner Classic Movies. The toasty feeling of curling up in bed under a duvet on a winter’s night and watching a wonderful old movie is truly missed while living in a tropical Southeast Asian country.
My Top 5 Jewel Thief Classic Movie Picks (in no particular order):
1. A Fine Pair (1968) – Starring the hunky dreamy Rock Hudson as a bored middle-aged police chief who reconnects with a much younger woman (the daughter of an old friend) who has grown up to be a jewel thief. This movie has one particularly risque scene in which Italian beauty and co-star Claudia Cardinale, writhes on the floor of an Austrian castle in a wet white button-down shirt with no bottoms drenched in sweat and moaning from the immense heat in the room (as the pair had to quite literally “turn up the heat” in the castle to fool the alarm system from going off). Like most Rock Hudson movies, the plot line is ridiculous, but you won’t give a damn because let’s be honest, you’re not watching for the plot, are you?
2. To Catch A Thief (1955) – A Hitchcock movie starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly set on the French Riviera (hello, you got me at Cary Grant.) Cary Grant is an ex-jewel thief who needs to prove his innocence while on the lam by catching a copycat who’s been stealing jewels in his signature style.
Although a Hitchcock film, I wouldn’t say it’s his best work. The movie has a fairly predictable ending and a rather prosaic plot twist but you’ll love the costumes (the movie ends in a masquerade ball), the amusing dialogue between Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, the breathtaking scenery in the south of France and of course, the mere casting of Grace Kelly as she prematurely ended her movie career at the age of 26 to marry King Rainier of Monaco.
I have a personal weakness for old James Bond movies starring Roger Moore. He was cheeky, debonair and smooth (yes I know, chauvinistic and piggish too) – all the qualities required to make a fantastically watchable male lead.
The jewel thefts in this movie are red herrings carried out by Octopussy and her gang of trained femme fatales. The plot thickens as she becomes double-crossed by her partner. Hey, if a bunch of jewel-thieving gorgeous women living on an island-harem doesn’t make you want to watch this movie, I don’t know what will.
*Just another James Bond and jewelry tidbit, in Die Another Day (2002), starring Halle Berry and Pierce Brosnan, diamonds were permanently embedded into the face of Zao, a North Korean henchmen during a run-in with Bond. Ouch.
4. Dishonored Lady (1947) – Hedy Lamarr stars as an Art Director at a glamorous Manhattan magazine where she meets a jaded (excuse the pun) super rich jeweler. You get the feeling this movie serves as a cautionary tale for wanton females in the conservative 1940’s. Although the jewel theft isn’t the central plot, there are plenty of other intrigues (murder, attempted suicide, greed, true love, and redemption) to keep you glued to the screen.
5. The Pink Panther (1963) – Everything about this film is fantastic down to the sound track by Henry Mancini. It’s playful, whimsical, and witty. The plot twists are entertaining and surprising. Peter Sellers plays the clueless detective while his wife secretly carries on with the real jewel thief – The Phantom. The Pink Panther is in reality a large pink diamond that has an unusual flaw – when looking deeply into the stone, one sees a tiny image resembling a leaping panther. Clever!