Film tribute to star echoes real life story

Jean Kent in 2011  ENGANL00120110921151141
Jean Kent in 2011 ENGANL00120110921151141
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A week after film star Jean Kent’s inquest, the British Film Institute paid tribute to her by showing her controversial film Good-Time Girl at the National Film Theatre.

Ms Kent, whose real name was Joan Hurst, died after being found collapsed in her bedroom in Westhorpe on November 30.

Jean Kent in the 1950s  ENGANL00120130212140535

Jean Kent in the 1950s ENGANL00120130212140535

The choice of the 1948 film had ‘considerable irony’, according to her executor former film critic Michael Thornton, who introduced the film on stage last night.

Mr Thornton said: “In Good-Time Girl, Jean plays a 16-year-old delinquent who is sent to a remand home after being accused of stealing jewellery.

“In real life, the administration of Jean’s estate has been bedevilled by allegations of theft after a valuable diamond ring and pair of ruby earrings, left by her to a distant cousin, were found to be missing.”

Her home was thoroughly searched but it was only after the house was emptied that the woman organising the clearance found a tin of deicer that rattled.

She discovered it had a false bottom, which opened to reveal the missing jewels.

Mr Thornton added: “Jean would have been horrified that her caution in secreting this valuable jewellery has led to wholly innocent people, whom she trusted implicitly, being suspected of theft.”

Good-Time Girl was so controversial in its day that many UK cities banned it in spite of a rape scene being removed at the insistence of the British Board of Film Censors.

It also stars Dennis Price, Diana Dors, Flora Robson and Jill Bacon.

Jo Botting, BFI’s curator of fiction films described it as the film that propelled Jean Kent to stardom.

“Her passing deprives us of one of the last links to the golden age of British cinema,” she said.

Ms Kent was a film star in the 1940s and early 1950s starring opposite leading men such as James Mason and Stuart Grainger, who was best man when she married Jusef Hurst in 1946. She was widowed in 1989. She last appeared on television in 1991 in Shrinks and Lovejoy.

In 2011 Jean Kent was given a standing ovation at the National Film Theatre when she went there for an event to mark her 90th birthday.

Last week an inquest in Bury St Edmunds heard that Ms Kent, 92, was found on the bedroom floor with a flatscreen television beside her and its metal stand across her body. Police had found no sign of criminal activity at the house.

She died at West Suffolk Hospital the following day.

Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Deans concluded: “She died from accidental injury from a fall occurring against a background of significant pre-existing cardiac disease which may have precipitated it.”