Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The Woman in Question (1950)
Jean Kent
If you have read other entries on this blog, you'll be aware that I am something of a Jean Kent fan. So it gives me great pleasure to be reviewing what many people consider her finest performance. Unlike most of her films, where she takes a supporting role (usually as someone's less than respectable girlfriend) here Kent takes centre stage - as a murder victim.
The story is told in a series of flashbacks as the police, led by Superintendent Lodge (Duncan Macrae) ...
Superintendent Lodge (Duncan Macrae) interviews a witness
... interviews witnesses and potential suspects, each of whom reveal a different version of the Agnes (Jean Kent).
First comes neighbour Mrs Finch (Hermione Baddeley) and her son Alfie (Robert Scroggins):
Hermione Baddeley

Robert Scroggins
In the version told by Mrs Finch, Agnes is a lovely lady ...
Jean Kent
... whose life has been turned upside down by the wartime injuries to her husband which have left him confined to hospital and her struggling to support herself.
That version isn't supported by the next witness, Catherine Taylor (Susan Shaw) who is the sister of the victim:
Susan Shaw
Catherine paints a very different picture of her sister ...
Jean Kent

Jean Kent

Jean Kent
... rather than the sweet lady recognised by Mrs Finch, Catherine sees Agnes as a disreputable drunk: the slattern who wakes up in torn underwear after a night of god knows what. A woman who can't be bothered to make time to see her sick husband and only married him to get her hands on his wages as a Petty Officer in the Merchant Navy.
Next up is Bob Baker (Dirk Bogarde) ...
Dirk Bogarde
... a struggling music hall performer who tried to get Agnes to appear as his sidekick in his stage act. He is frustrated by her constant failure to learn her routine which prevents him honing his act.
Jean Kent
He sees her as a timewasting temptress, who thinks she can around him in the same way she gets around other men. 
Irish sailor Michael Murray (John McCallum) sees another version of Agnes:
Jean Kent & John McCallum
To him, Agnes is great fun and, as he admits to the investigating officers, she was the love he had always been looking for. Yet their relationship had also been tempestuous.
Then there's pet shop owner Arthur Pollard (Charles Victor) ...
Charles Victor
... a neighbour who Agnes uses to do odd jobs around the house. Charles, a widower, was in love with her and hoped to marry her. In his eyes, Agnes was a beautiful and respectable lady:
Jean Kent
 But which portrayal of Agnes is the truth? And, more to the point, who killed her? The prime suspects are Bob Baker and Michael Murray, but what about the others.
If you want to find out, you'll just have to watch the film.
Elsewhere, look out for:
Vida Hope (left) & Lana Morris
Joe Linnane & John Boxer
Anthony Dawson
As a final point, I must say that Susan Shaw has never looked lovelier than in this film, so here she is again:
Susan Shaw

Susan Shaw

It's also worth noting that Dirk Bogarde wears the same jacket as her wore in The Blue Lamp:
Jean Kent & Dirk Bogarde
Dirk Bogarde in The Blue Lamp
P.S. Apart from playing the same character five times, Jean Kent also provided the voice for her pet parrot!

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