Grace Kelly & Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief (1955, Alfred Hitchcock)
Francois Truffaut: In other words, what intrigues you is the paradox between the inner fire and the cool surface.
Alfred Hitchcock: Definitely. I think the most interesting women, sexually, are the English women. I feel the Swedes, the northern Germans, and Scandinavians are a great deal more exciting than the French, the Latin, and the Italian women. Sex should not be advertised. An English girl, looking like a schoolteacher, is apt to get into a cab with you and, to your surprise, she’ll probably pull a man’s pants open.
Truffaut: I appreciate your viewpoint, but I doubt whether the majority of the public shares your tastes in this matter. I think the male audience prefers a highly carnal woman. The very fact that Jane Russell, Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, and Brigitte Bardot became stars, despite the many flops in which they appeared, seems to bear this out. The majority of the public, it seems to me, prefers the kind of sensuality that is blatant.
Hitchcock: That may well be true, but you yourself admit that those actresses generally make bad films. Do you know why? Because without the element of surprise the scenes become meaningless. Look at the opening of To Catch a Thief. I deliberately photographed Grace Kelly ice-cold and I kept cutting to her profile, looking classical, beautiful, very distant. And then, when Cary Grant accompanies her to the door of her hotel room, what does she do? She thrusts her lips right up to his mouth.
Truffaut: I’m willing to grant that you manage to impose that concept of icy sexuality on the screen, but I still feel the audience prefers the kind of sex that’s obvious and tangible.
Hitchcock: Maybe so. Anyway, when the picture is over, the public’s pretty satisfied with it.
-excerpted from Hitchcock by Francois Truffaut & Helen G. Scott