Posted three times previously: 20 years ago I went on a grand and glorious two-wheeled Steve McQueen journey during the Cannes Film Festival. On a scooter, I mean. In the hills above Cannes, Juan Les Pins, Antibes and Nice.
Some would say that the word “scooter” automatically disqualifies my adventure as McQueen-level. This is how Elvis Mitchell (at the time the chief N.Y. Times critic) responded when I told him about it later that night. “No, no…you don’t get it,” I replied. “I’m not saying I did the Steve McQueen motorcycle thing by classic Great Escape standards. I was buzzing around winding curves and taking in the scenic grandeur and kinda feeling like McQueen…okay? Because I was playing Elmer Bernstein‘s score in my head. It was rapture.”
I rented a decent-sized scooter around 10 am that morning. (It was a Sunday.) I drove into the hills above St. Paul de Vence and headed east, tooling along serpentine roads in the high craggy hills. I went from village to village, stopping for photos or just to stop and stare.
I had lunch in St. Paul and ordered a steaming lobster bisque with a submerged folded white tortilla filled with lobster meat. I visited a tiny little village that I forget the name of but which you can see for a few seconds in in To Catch A Thief. Then I made my way down to the coast west of Nice and headed back to Cannes, tooling along the beach roads, stopping now and then to bask in the warm sun. I returned the bike around 6 pm.
I haven’t solo’ed like that since. You generally can’t do this kind of adventure with a lady. Some are cool enough to savor this kind of roam-around but most girls aren’t. Too security-minded. They’ll explore but only in a car.
Posted on 5.10.11: For nearly my entire life I’ve been on extremely familiar terms with John Robie’s (i.e., Cary Grant‘s) mountaintop home in To Catch A Thief. Yesterday Sasha Stone and her daughter Emma and I actually visited the place. It’s located on the main road leading up to the medieval village of Saint Jeannet, and it’s absolutely dead real — relatively unchanged from when Alfred Hitchcock shot his classic 1955 film — with only the addition of a driveway gate and a tall thick hedge in front.