“There were only twelve playboys—not more—in the world. They were charming, and spoke languages, and behaved well with women. This generation can do anything, but it’s less fun.” —Gunter Sachs
I’m a fan of the three-year love affair between Gunter Sachs and Brigitte Bardot because it was just so classically romantic: the rich, well-bred man about town falls for the beautiful blonde movie star. The Jaqueline Susann part of my brain adores this.
Both Gunter and Brigitte had been married before by the time they found each other. They met—“When we first spoke, it was as though lightning had struck; I knew the minute I saw her that I was going to marry her,” Gunter said—and he quickly wooed her by flying his helicopter over her home and dropping a hundred roses before diving into the Mediterranean and emerging from the sea.
If a guy had done this to me, I’d probably get annoyed (“Who’s going to pick up all these roses?!”) and I might even roll my eyes at him dramatically diving into the sea. Still, you gotta admire the dramatic quality of old Gunter’s efforts. And clearly, it worked. That Brigitte must have really liked a spectacle.
They did get married, in a quickie Las Vegas ceremony, and then of course divorced a few years later. But I still love the trapped-in-amber feel of their marriage. Together, they represented a true “glamour” couple, helping to make the French Riviera of the 1960s a playground for the rich and beautiful. They were the face of cool European decadence—making movies, collecting art, and having business meetings under the sun and on the beaches of St. Tropez. They deserved each other, both refusing to be boring: Gunter once encouraged Salvador Dalí to shoot a gun in his penthouse, and Brigitte once jumped naked into a snowdrift.
I guess I wish there were still couples like this. Highbrow couples like Brad and Angelina tend to be painfully dull and stiff, and the other extreme seems to center around reality TV tripe or courtships arranged by publicists.
Long live cinematic romance set in the real world.