Cannes, Movie Star

That's starlet Simone Sylva and American bad boy Robert Mitchum posing for photographers at Cannes in the 1950s.

Ah, Cannes. Sun, surf, skin -- the perfect antidote to all those films in dark screening rooms. The 63rd annual cinema conclave opens tomorrow night with Ridley Scott's Robin Hood starring Russell Crowe. Another film about robber barons, Oliver Stone's Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, starring Michael Douglas and Shia LaBeouf, likewise will screen out of competition.

Speaking of which, only 19 (rather than the typical 22) films are in the official competition this year. Festival leadership says that there were fewer quality titles to choose from. (Might this be due to the diminishing number of foreign films being produced, a topic Flickgrrl addressed in this Sunday piece?) Still, there's a new Mike Leigh (Another Year), a freshly-minted Takeshi Kitano (The Outrage) and the latest from Alejandro Gonzalez Inarittu (Biutiful -- that's not a typo). Doug Liman's Fair Game (based on Valerie Plame's memoir and starring Naomi Watts as Herself and Sean Penn as her husband, Joseph Wilson) is the Hollywood film in competition. (Yes, this is the second Plame movie, following Rod Lurie's Nothing But the Truth).

Those of us who can't travel to the Cote d'Azur can get their Cannes on by watching one of the movies set in the fishing village repurposed as a convention center. The best among them have diamond thieves at their centers. Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief  (1955), with Cary Grant as a diamond thief and Grace Kelly as the jewel, showcases Cannes before it was built up like Atlantic City. Also excellent is Brian De Palma's Femme Fatale (1991) with Rebecca Romijn as a diamond thief who steals a priceless bijou during the festival in a knockout opening scene. Frothier is Lawrence Kasdan's French Kiss (1995) with Kevin Kline as the thief and Meg Ryan as his unwitting accomplice. Mr. Bean's Holiday (2007) and Festival in Cannes (2002) are set during the festival.

Widening the net to nearby Nice and Monte Carlo, Jacques Demy's  Bay of Angels (1963), Neil Jordan's The Good Thief (2003), Jean-Luc Godard's Pierrot le fou (1965), John Frankenheimer's Ronin (1998), Stanley Donen's Two for the Road (1967) and Prince's Under the Cherry Moon (1986) capture the flavor and luscious landscape of the region.

What am I missing? Your favorite Cannes or Riviera film? Alternatively, your favorite Cannes winner?