Audrey Hepburn

Robin Barnes - Railway Art and History

Robin Barnes, Railway Art and History
Yes, actress and locomotive did indeed meet at the Gare du Nord, Paris, in the 1956 film 'Funny Face'. Ms Hepburn played a dowdy New York antiquarian bookshop assistant transformed into a glamorous model by ace fashion photographer Fred Astaire, a man of mature years who had the somewhat alarming habit of dancing at night in deserted streets, wearing an overcoat and pork-pie hat, and wielding his umbrella like a deranged matador his sword. In the scene at the station, outfitted by de Givenchy, she was supposed to be saying a sad farewell to her lover: the problem of how to make her appear suitably distressed was neatly solved by having Fred kiss her. The locomotive? The final, great flowering of the French four-cylinder compound, designed by Marc de Caso and built by Corpet Louvet in 1949 as SNCF 232.U.1. It was late in the day for French steam, and remained the only one of its kind, but it is significant that despite the fact French railways were rapidly electrifying, the authorities selected it for the film role. Certainly, its performance in service was outstanding, and without doubt also it had a presence that no other form of traction could match. Withdrawn in March 1962, it survives today in France's national railway museum at Mulhouse. Before you rivet counters write in; the number 232.U.1 indeed normally was carried on a large painted panel on the framing between the head-lamps, but, as any film star will be, the locomotive was made up specially for its part. The number was moved to the bufferbeam, and the stylish SNCF macaron from the smokebox door to the framing (and with a black instead of red background), done to permit the famous 'Fleche d'Or' headboard (a train it probably never hauled) to be mounted in its place.
Robin Barnes, Railway Art and History  Robin Barnes, Railway Art and History
All railway art is for viewing only and is copyrighted to Robin Barnes 2002.
The railway art may not be reproduced in any way without written permission from the artist.