Pen Tennyson's career is one of the great "what ifs" of British cinema. He died in uniform in a plane crash aged less than thirty leaving a film star wife and three promising films.
Penrose Tennyson was the great grandson of the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson and was educated at Eton. He went to Oxford but left after two terms. Michael Balcon, then head of Gaumont-British, was a family friend and Tennyson got a job in the scenario department. He switched to direction, working as assistant on films such as The Good Companions and The 39 Steps.
Tennyson followed Balcon first to MGM and then to Ealing where he finally got a chance to direct his own features. There Ain't No Justice was an attempt to bring a bit of social realism to British cinema. The Proud Valley continued the theme, benefiting from more location shooting and the star power of Paul Robeson. Neither film was entirely successful, but it was clear where Tennyson's interests lay.
In 1938 he married Nova Pilbeam whom he had met on the set of The Man Who Knew Too Much. With the war on, he joined the Navy to make training films and got special leave to make Convoy, a patriotic flag waver. He died when his plane went down between Shetland and Rosyth before he could take up a job in charge of the Admiralty's Educational Film Unit.
|1939||There Ain't No Justice|
|1940||The Proud Valley|
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