Obituary: Dany Robin

Dany Robin was one of the first post-war French ingenues - very pretty, fragile, chic but elfin, shy but assured and with an ardent naivety which so well reflected the country's then optimistic view of itself.

Marc Allegret gave Robin a small role in Lunegarde (1945), which starred Gaby Morlay; and another leading director, Marcel Carne, offered a part in Les Portes de la nuit (1946). But she was first really noticed in Le Silence est d'or (1947), Rene Clair's first film after returning from Hollywood. It was a comedy about making silent movies, with Maurice Chevalier as a director, Francois Perier as his apprentice and Robin as the latter's petite amie, deserting him for a wealthy, older man who is one of Chevalier's backers.

In 1948 she co-starred with Georges Marchal in La Passagere, the first of several teamings; they were married in 1951. Marchal was probably France's most popular movie idol after Jean Marais - and she co-starred with Marais in Roger Richebe's Les Amants de minuit (1952), a modern Cinderella tale of charm and humour. She played a lonely girl who, on Christmas Eve, attracts the attention of a rich young man who buys her a dress from the shop where she works; this leads to complications when her boss sees them at a night- club.

It was the first of her films to be seen widely outside France; along with Julien Duvivier's La Fete a Henriette, a comedy about a screenwriter (Michel Auclair), a dressmaker (Robin) and a circus performer - played by Hildegarde Neff, who had earlier starred in Film Ohne Titel, from which this movie borrowed several of its freewheeling ideas.

Robin acted in English for the first time on screen in Act of Love (1953), a Franco-American co-production directed by the Russian Anatole Litvak. His earlier attempt to examine some of the problems in post-war Europe, Decision before Dawn, was not particularly liked, and nor was this, as written by Irwin Shaw from a well-regarded novel by Alfred Hayes, The Girl on the Via Flaminia. Kirk Douglas played the lead, a GI whose romance with a country girl, Robin, becomes fraught for both of them. Karel Reisz said that Robin ''plays Lisa with a certain wan charm'', a verdict unlikely to lead to international stardom - not, anyway, with the advent of Brigitte Bardot, who had had a small role in Litvak's film.

Robin had a few moments as Desiree Clary in Sacha Guitry's Napoleon, and remained popular in France. She appeared in two rather risque films directed by Jacqueline Audrey, L'Ecole des cocottes (1958) and Le Secret du Chevalier d'Eon (1959), and in two of the proliferating ''sketch'' films, both in episodes with the leading actor of the nouvelle vague, Jean-Paul Belmondo. Henri Verneuil directed the cynical ''adultery'' section of La Francaise et l'amour (1960), with Robin as a bored wife and Belmondo as the man who consoles her; and in Les Amours celebres (1961) he was the courtier and soldier the Duc du Lauzan and she one of the mistresses of Louis XIV.

She returned to Britain to co-star with Peter Sellers in Waltz of the Toreadors (1962), as the Frenchwoman who expects to extricate him from his horrible marriage. Robin was a mysterious figure in Follow the Boys (1963), a Connie Francis vehicle set on the Riviera, and, now married to the British producer Michael Sullivan, she was Sid James's light o' love in one of the lesser ''Carry Ons'', Don't Lose Your Head (1966). She was the mistress of both father and son - George Sanders and David Hemmings - in the Norden-Muir cornucopia of Victoriana, The Best House in London (1969), and in Hitchcock's Topaz (1969), although married to Frederick Stafford (who had the leading role), she was having an affair with a fellow secret agent, Michel Piccoli. It was her last film.

David Shipman

Dany Robin, actress: born Clamart, France 14 April 1927; twice married; died Paris 25 May 1995.

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