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07.20.11

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Phaedra
LA PIAZZA: Audrey Hepburn gives it a spin in 'Roman Holiday.'

Vrooom!

Scooters in film

By Emily Hunt


A sexy scooter? Not such a paradox after all. Whether we realize it or not, a number of movies also offer picturesque shots of characters living out lives atop the ultimate accessories in scooter luxury.

'Roman Holiday' (1952) Would adolescent girls everywhere still be quite as obsessed with this classic if not for the movie's press shot featuring dapper Gregory Peck and elfin Audrey Hepburn laughing atop a European Vespa? Doubtful. This movie is one of the first and smartest romantic comedies, with astounding views of Rome as seen from the seat of a glamorous scooter. Not so surprisingly, the 1952 film resulted in over 100,000 Vespa sales.

'Quadrophenia' (1979) The ultimate scooter movie. A weekend in Brighton offers the punks and the mods a chance to settle their score to a soundtrack by the Who, and there are vintage scooters everywhere. The final scene, where Jimmy drives Sting's scooter off a cliff, is a heartbreaker.

'Empire Records' (1995) This 1995 cult classic features signature punk Debra (Robbin Tunney), who shows up for work on her Vespa early in the film and continues about her day in a socially unconventional vein. Although the film no longer receives much buzz, it did feature notable actresses Renee Zellweger and Liv Tyler at the early stages of their careers.

'American Graffiti' (1973) George Lucas' film didn't show off only retro hot rods and convertibles; one of the film's main protagonists, Terry Fields (Charles Martin), shows up on a white Vespa early in the film. Director George Lucas allegedly used Terry to represent himself as a teen in all his nerdy, academic and Vespa-riding glory.

'Repo Man' (1984) This wacked-out sci-fi has gained notoriety for its gritty dialogue, ludicrously dated special effects, kooky plotline and oddly honest portrayal of Los Angeles; however, it also puts the violence in Vespa. At one point in the film, rock group the Untouchables make cameos as a sinister "scooter gang" and end up beating the shit out of Emilio Estevez. See it.

'Larry Crowne' (2011) The newest addition to the scooter movie microgenre, Larry Crowne is all about self-worth and adventure . . . and it opens with a gas-station scene pitting SUV against scooter. When Larry (Tom Hanks) joins a scooter club and takes to courting Mercedes (Julia Roberts) on his new ride, scooters become a symbol for self-discovery. Not so surprisingly, this year's scooter sales have gone up considerably.

'Dumb and Dumber' (1994) "Just when I think you couldn't possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this . . . and totally redeem yourself!" exclaims Dumb and Dumber's Harry to his best friend Lloyd regarding the latter's recent decision to sell their car and travel to Aspen on a motor scooter. Needless to say, the rest is a scooter-heavy comedy of errors.

Don't miss these others: Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Alfie (2004), Run Lola Run (1998), La Dolce Vita (1960), La Haine (1995) and Il Bidon (1955).


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