Tuesday, 31 December 2013


Caravan
 

Another of Gainsborough Studios wonderfully melodramatic Gothic romances, Caravan has everything that the viewer might expect:

It’s a tale of thwarted love between childhood sweethearts Richard Darrell and Oriana Camperdene (Stewart Granger & Anne Crawford) ...
 
... who are separated by the fiendish Sir Francis Castleton (Dennis Price) ...
 
... who marries Oriana after his assistant Wycroft (Robert Helpmann) organises Richard’s murder whilst on a trip to Spain. After Wycroft botches the killing ...
 
... Richard is nursed back to health by Rosal (Jean Kent) a gypsy dancer.
 

This being Gainsborough we have: a woman prepared to sacrifice herself for the man she loves …

 
… a heavy emphasis on sex …

 


… an evily manipulative villain …

 
… and death by quicksand.

 


Not forgetting a hero who could have set the standard for every Mills & Boon man that followed. Let’s face it, we all know someone for whom a blood-drenched Stewart Granger - shirt open to the waist, clad in figure-hugging trousers and wielding a whip - is the epitome of male sexuality.

 

Yet it’s not Granger who steals the show. There is only one star shining at their brightest in Caravan: the late, great Jean Kent.

 

She may never have been the greatest actress (although she certainly proved herself to be a very good actress) but she was unrivalled when it came to being a sex symbol in a supporting role. As she later said 'If producers opened a script and read, ‘A girl appears in cami-knickers,’ they sent for me.”
For the uninitiated, only familiar with modern actresses, don’t think Kiera Knightly – think Gemma Arterton: an actress happy to play (and capable of playing) a complete sauce-pot. In taking the role of Rosal, the gypsy dancer, Kent propelled herself into serious sex-symbol territory. After all, this was the role turned down by Britain’s greatest-ever sex symbol Margaret Lockwood, as being a step too far.

So in celebration of her recent passing at the age of 92, here’s Jean as we knew and loved her:





 
Goodbye Jean: Not that I believe in heaven, but if there is one, I'm sure you are up there (as your 1940s self) brightening up a celestial film-set.
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Also to note:
The future BBC Radio Disc Jockey Pete Murray appears as a waiter:


This poster from the film's US release is currently available from the 'Rare Film Posters from Greg Edwards' website. (It's a long-established company. I've bought a number of posters from him over the years and the service is very good):

3 comments:

  1. You already knew the quote then. :)

    Great film - even better viewed at the BFI for Jean's 90th in 2011 introduced by the lady herself!

    Didn't know Margaret turned it down but it's not really a part for someone who was at that point the country's biggest film star. It's more of a show-stealing supporting role IMO.

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  2. I saw it as part of a Stewart Granger boxset: http://www.moviemail.com/film/dvd/The-Stewart-Granger-Collection-Box-Set

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