There is a problem with the old car that is the literal plot vehicle in the movie, “Midnight In Paris“.
Anybody know what it is?
The old car, I mean. Not the problem.
It is not, as the movie makers and even the vehicle’s manufacturer insist, a 1920 Peugeot.
It is, in fact, a 1928 Peugeot, Type 184 Landaulet. Some also designate it as a 22 CV.
According to Woody Allen‘s production notes, the car “met the production’s requirement for a car boasting ‘a driver’s compartment with convertible roof and a covered passenger compartment’.” It was loaned to the production company, which filmed in Paris, from Peugeot’s museum collection, along with a slew of other Peugeot models from mish-mash of model years.
I only know all this because the actual movie car showed up at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, in a display of famous movie cars (i.e., the Bullitt Mustang, the Gen’l Lee, and the self-driving half of the Renault 11 in the James Bond movie, “A View To A Kill”*.)
The second problem? The car was too new for the movie, as well as too old for its time.
Confused? I explain:
The fictional movie depicts a real time in Paris, in the early 1920s, if not 1920 itself, when the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, Luis Bunuel, F. Scott Fitzgerald and others were all in residence and all hung out together (look up “The Lost Generation“).
It was a heady time. But it was well past its peak when Peugeot came out in 1928 with its new models.
In fact, Hemingway had decamped for Key West by early 1928. And even if this was about the year 1920, Hemingway was mostly in Chicago that year.
So, whatever. The movie is a fantasy. And none of this happened, anyway, except in the dreams of Gil (Owen Wilson), the main character.
But the 1928 Peugeot Type 184 Landaulet was a dream of a car – albeit a flop in real life. The six-cylinder Type 184 was essentially obsolete the day it debuted – the last really big limousine type car Peugeot produced. It was in, and out, of production in less than two years. Only 31 Type 184s were made.
But it was, for the Midnight In Paris movie, an apropos if slightly incongruous relic of a bygone era.
[Editor’s Note: How weird is it that I am in Paris, as a writer for the International New York Times (nee Herald Tribune), writing about former Herald Tribune correspondent Ernest Hemingway, the Lost Generation and F. Scott Fitzgerald, with whom I share a birthday? Now that’s a fantasy.]
October 2, 2016