I was eleven when I fell in love with romance. Audrey Hepburn wasn’t the first actress who helped that happen. Probably. The order of movies and books is a bit confused in my memory. I already loved to read and had connected The Moonspinners movie with the book by Mary Stewart, but the movie was pretty meh compared to the book.
When I saw How To Steal a Million—dubbed an “elegant caper movie”—starring Audrey Hepburn and Petter O’Toole, the mix of humor, suspense and romance struck my eleven-year-old heart and mind like lightning. I didn’t just fall in love with the story. I fell in love WITH the mix of romance, action, suspense and humor. I fell in love with the way they used these elements to tell the story.
I think I saw the movie at the drive-in. I think we saw more movies in the summer because we were a small, unruly mob (four brothers, one sister). My mom would pop a large, grocery bag’s worth of popcorn and sometimes she made home-made root beer. Or mixed up some Kool-aid. We were expensive to entertain, even during days of 10 cent hot dogs.
We had to wait for the sun to set so we could see the movie. And back then, the speakers hung on a slightly rolled down window. That let in the mosquitos. I think I spent my summers covered in bites and scabs (from biffing it on my bike).
We’d get a bit restless waiting for the cartoon to start. The screen faced West and the sun set very late. Some years later, they turned the screen’s back to the sun, but back then we waited. And waited.
Pauline Baird Jones
Perilously romantic fiction for armchair adventurers
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