One of the pleasures of forties cinema is watching Jean Kent mature from a pretty bit of decoration feeding lines to Askey and Hanley into a sexy femme fatale. There's also a great deal of pleasure to be had from watching her cope with the flighty foreign floozy parts she got lumbered with in the process.
She was born into show business with her parents working the Music Halls. She was put into the business from an early age and when times got tough in the depression joined the chorus at the infamous Windmill Theatre (at the age of fifteen).
Though she made a couple of film appearances in the thirties it took her success in the stage review Apple Sauce in which she was stooge to Max Miller to get her noticed. She got a contract at Gainsborough and did a bit more stooging. The turning point in her career came when she was given a part in Fanny by Gaslight and was allowed to "go dramatic".
Fanny by Gaslight was the first of her Gainsborough melodramas. She was probably in more of them than any other actor, but though she now seems an integral part of the cycle, at the time she was less appreciated. Thus, although she gets fifth billing in Fanny, she moves down to eighth for both Madonna of the Seven Moons and The Wicked Lady.
Gradually the studio got the message that audiences liked her and improved her billing and her contract. The late forties were her golden period with a series of starring roles. This came to an end with The Browning Version. Though the film was a success, and she was excellent in it, she now blames her decision to play a woman ten years older than herself for the premature end to her career.
She turned to theatre and television and kept busy. Notable performances were as Queen Elizabeth in the Francis Drake series, and an appearance in Steptoe and Son as love interest for both Albert and Harold. She died at the age of 92 following a fall at home.
|1935||The Rocks of Valpré|
|1935||Who's Your Father|
|1943||It's That Man Again|
|1943||Miss London Ltd.|
|1943||Warn That Man|
|1944||Bees in Paradise|
|1944||Fanny by Gaslight|
|1944||Two Thousand Women|
|1944||Madonna of the Seven Moons|
|1945||The Rake's Progress|
|1945||The Wicked Lady|
|1946||The Magic Bow|
|1947||The Man Within|
|1947||The Loves of Joanna Godden|
|1948||Good Time Girl|
|1948||Sleeping Car to Trieste|
|1950||The Reluctant Widow|
|1950||The Woman in Question|
|1950||Her Favourite Husband|
|1951||The Browning Version|
|1952||The Lost Hours|
|1955||Before I Wake|
|1957||The Prince and the Showgirl|
|1958||The Grip of the Strangler|
|1959||Beyond This Place|
|1959||Please Turn Over|
|1960||Bluebeard's Ten Honeymoons|
|1976||Shout at the Devil|
Jean Kent at Amazon UK
Jean Kent at Amazon UK