The temptation of Mr Cusack

The Times We Lived In. Published: August 23rd 1961. Photograph by Gordon Standing

A cool car, a pretty girl, fabulous headgear: the sunshine streaming from this picture would really put you in the mood for spring. It features Cyril Cusack and Dany Robin during filming for The Waltz of the Toreadors, directed by John Guillermin.

So far, so straightforward. Guillermin took Jean Anouilh’s bitter French farce, relocated it to England and softened the comedic tale of an elderly womaniser, General Leo Fitzjohn – played by Peter Sellers at his bumbling best. Cusack played Dr Grogan and Dany Robin the luminous (or should that be murderous?) French mistress, Ghislaine.

There is, however, no sign that any of the film was shot in Ireland. So why this photograph is in our archive, credited to Gordon Standing, is a mystery.

According to the caption Cusack was "working to a tight schedule in order to be free for rehearsals of his own play, The Temptation of Mr O". Inspired by Kafka's The Trial, this large-scale musical piece had a cast of 46 plus numerous extras, and was due to have its first production at the Olympia Theatre during that year's Dublin Theatre Festival.


So maybe the lovely Ms Robin came to Ireland to rehearse what a critic described as her “delightful synthetic breeziness” with Cusack – who, said the same critic, “as the sceptical physician to the old general and his wife, adds some nice Irish humour to the posturings of these two in their gaunt manor home”.

Or maybe our photographer went to Wales, where some of the film was shot, on his holidays. We’ll probably never know. But that doesn’t stop us from enjoying the picture. Cusack is doing his best to look sceptical. Robin is simply delicious. And spring – surely – is on its way.

These and other Irish Times images can be purchased from: A book, 'The Times We Lived In', with more than 100 photographs and commentary by Arminta Wallace, published by Irish Times Books, is available from and from bookshops, priced at €19.99.