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  • Good Time Girl (1948)

    This movie has so many turns and developments it's hard to remember everything by the time you get to the sensational terrible end. A girl leaves home to escape her father's beatings and one thing leads to another down the line. It's post-war England, and there are fun echoes of similar post-war American movies, complete with thugs and nightclubs and G.I.s on the lam.

    This leading actress Jean Kent starts off seeming a little strained, and you should make sure you give the movie a chance. It only gets better as it goes. It never quite strains credibility even though the events gets pretty unsavory. The photography, much of it at night, is vivid and fluid, the acting generally excellent, and the strength of ideas is wonderful.

    This really is a harrowing tale of social mis-steps all along. It's meant to be a cautionary tale, too. Literally. It's all told in a flashback to another young woman who is about to repeat the fate of the main character. Kent turns out to be pretty amazing in this film, ranging through several phases of her young life on camera--from innocent girl to hardened juvenile to a kind of moll without a gang.

    I liked it a lot.
  • "Imagine - they say I'm aged 25-30!" scoffs 28 year old Jean Kent in the role of 16 year old Gwen Rawlings. Without knowing her real age, you'd scoff too. If a 30 year old Patricia Roc can play an 18 year old ingenue, all sweetness and honey, then an almost 30 year old Jean Kent is the ideal for a teenage runaway. A young Diana Dors also features in the film, as the recipient of Flora Robson's warning tale. Though ten years younger than Ms. Kent, they easily both pass for being the same age, without any stretch of the imagination.

    I'd watch Ms. Kent read the phone book so I am openly admitting that I am terribly biased towards her, but I do believe that she sure gave one of her best performances in Good Time Girl. The character is almost an extension of some of her bit parts - what might happen to them if Phyllis Calvert or Margaret Lockwood were out of the picture, and she was given the film.

    Poor Gwen is a victim of circumstance if ever there was one. First she borrows a brooch from work and is caught returning it. Since she won't sleep with the manager to keep him quiet, and he won't believe the truth, she is fired and in turn beaten by her father when he discovers this. She leaves home to stay at a boarding house and gets a new job through another man there, who also has designs on her. At this point, Gwen is still a sensible young lady and she pushes him away until he beats her up in a fit of rage - and it's her black eye that gets him fired. Vowing revenge, he leaves for a time but then returns briefly enough to frame her for a petty crime, and Gwen is sent to a reform school for three years. You really have to feel sorry for her because she's not at all a bad seed, just rebellious and headstrong. She doesn't get on the wrong side of the tracks until nearly the end of the movie, when all the bad types she's been hanging around with finally rub off on her and she joins a small crime ring. Alas, it is this one change of heart that ultimately ends in tragedy for Gwen.

    Good Time Girl is an absolutely harrowing story and certainly one of the most gripping movies I've ever seen. 10/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    What is film noir? The genre has been described by a number of eminent critics as a movie, predominantly photographed in low-key lighting, and set in the "unstable universe" of the crime underworld in which "frightened, fugitive characters struggle to survive."

    Film noir has a cohesive visual style. Dark, brooding images reinforce the noir movie's overall downbeat mood. The other consistent aspect of the genre can be found in its protagonists. They are usually ordinary people—good people at heart. Often alienated from society, they yet find themselves hopelessly entrapped (either through no fault of their own at all or a very minor failing) in the very milieu from which they are desperately trying to escape. The more they struggle against their fate, the deeper they sink into the swamp.

    A masterpiece of the genre, Good-Time Girl is one hundred per cent film noir. The movie outraged censors in its day and it still packs a tremendous wallop. A scathing indictment of the British justice system, the movie presents us with an ill-fated heroine (most expressively acted by Jean Kent).

    The nightmarish film noir quality of the story is abetted by the unique device of having it narrated in a perfectly straight fashion by the very same hideous person who sent our innocent heroine to the Dickensian reformatory. What is even more horrifying is that the brutal, brainless, totally insensitive and remarkably evil Flora Robson character uses the harrowing story neither to accuse herself nor to deny her own prime involvement in this shattering and totally inexcusable miscarriage of justice. Instead, she regards it as her "duty" to use it to point an unacceptable moral to all young girls to stay at home – even though they may be independent and earning a good wage – and put up with all the filth and squalor and brutality of the slums. It's impossible to reconcile Robson's "moral" with good sense, let alone justice and equity. No wonder the Australian censor banned the film!

    The filmmakers themselves admitted in a synopsis provided to the Library of Congress that their movie was an exposé of British "justice" in which the innocent victim is brutalized at every turn until finally she is put away for a fifteen-year stretch for a crime in which she was a most unwilling accomplice.

    These disturbing elements are driven home by a series of brilliant performances: Jean Kent as the beleaguered heroine; Peter Glenville as her spivvy accuser; Jill Balcon as "king" of the reform school; Flora Robson as the vicious magistrate; Beatrice Varley as the heroine's mother; Elwyn Brook-Jones as her lecherous employer; Griffith Jones as the vengeful Danny; and Danny Green (we see only his back, but what an expressive back it is)!

    David MacDonald is not normally a director that I would go out of my way to salute, but in this case he has directed with force, pace and imaginative flair, aided by superbly noirish black and white camera-work and some marvelously atmospheric sets.
  • The 27-year-old Jean Kent plays 16-year-old Gwen in this excellent and harrowing British film that looks at the downfall of a good-time girl.

    Told as a cautionary tell by Flora Robson (a court officer) to Diana Dors (a possible delinquent), the story of Gwen combines parts of all those Hollywood movies starring Lana Turner or Susan Hayward in which the good girl goes bad---and PAYS for it.

    Gwen is a well-meaning girl who comes from a violent home and likes nice things. After a final beating from her father on being fired from a job in a pawn shop, she runs away and gets an apartment in London. There she meets a man who gets her a job in a nightclub. From then on she's on a descent into a world of booze and sleazy men. She never really does anything wrong but she crosses the wrong guy and he gets even by framing her in a jewel heist. She's sent to a reform school, learns to be really tough, and escapes to live an even wilder life of men and booze. The final sequence of events is mesmerizingly horrible as Gwen gets framed one last time.

    Jean Kent is terrific and totally believable as the willful teenager and party girl. She's as good as any tough girl in any Hollywood film. Supporting cast offers a few great roles here: Griffith Jones, usually a nice guy, plays a sadistic thug; Jill Balcon (mother of Daniel Day-Lewis) is great as the vicious Roberta; Herbert Lom is subdued as Maxie the nightclub owner; Beatrice Varley is good as the hapless mother; Dennis Price is memorable as Red; and Flora Robson scores again as the court official.

    Just a terrific little film.....
  • Good-Time Girl is directed by David MacDonald and collectively adapted to screenplay by Muriel Box, Sydney Box and Ted Willis from the novel Night Darkens the Street written by Arthur La Bern. It stars Jean Kent, Dennis Price, Herbert Lom, Bonar Collleano, Peter Glenville, Flora Robson and Jill Balcon. Music is by Lambert Williamson and Clifton Parker, and cinematography is by Stephen Dade.

    This is the story of Gwen Rawlings (Kent), a 16 year old British girl who ran away from home and met trouble around every corner she turned...

    The under represented genre of film dealing with juvenile female delinquency has always been a tricky subject for film makers to tackle, even more so back in the day as it were. Here in 1948 is one of the best of its kind, and this even after the BBFC enforced some tone downs of violent scenes and requested that a moral message framing device open and close the story. It's even thought that the Government of the time got involved, such is the wariness of how authority dealt with a troubled female teenager.

    The whole film is relentlessly bleak, even as young Gwen strides out with determination and stoic strength, her ebullience infectious, there's sadness or tragedy about to enter the fray. Her whole life spins out of control the moment she is caught returning a brooch she borrowed from the Pawn Shop where she works. She had been out dancing the night before and wanted to look smart, so she took the brooch thinking nobody would mind as long as it was put back the next day, but her boss catches her returning it and isn't as understanding as she had hoped. In fact he is prepared to turn the other cheek in return for sexual favours! To which she promptly says no and slaps him one. From this point on Gwen's life slips into a vortex of misery and disaster.

    After a savage beating by her father, who is incensed about her "theft" and sacking from the Pawn Shop; which is filmed skillfully by MacDonald who fades the scene to black, she runs away to start a new life, a 16 year old girl alone in the big city. She seems savvy enough, but she is quickly duped by a fellow lodger at her boardings (Glenville on wonderfully spiv oily form) and even though she lands a hat-check job at Max Vine's (Lom) nightclub, things quickly turn sour. Either by bad luck, bad judgement or just being around bad people, Gwen is on course to be wrongly sent to an Approved School, which is basically a euphemism for Girls Borstal it seems! The only bright spot in her life is Michael "Red" Farrell (Price), a genuinely kind man but one who is also married.

    While there at the "school" Gwen goes through metamorphism and turns into a warrior bad girl, a plot line that John Cromwell's 1950 film Caged would follow. She befriends the tough cookie "mommy" inmate, played by Daniel Day-Lewis' mom, Jill Balcon, and before you know it she is the hard nut who thinks of nothing to bullying other girls and escaping at the first chance she gets. Now she's a fully fledge escapee, a hardened hard drinker and smoker, sexually matured and venturing still further down life's dark alleyways. And worse is to come, because fate dictates that she again will fall in with the wrong people, but willingly so this time, until finally fate deals its fatal blow, a coup de grace that stuns with the bitterest of ironies.

    Cast are excellent, with Kent a revelation playing a girl ten years younger than her actual age. Direction is smart and brisk, while Dade's photography is always in the realm of film noir, with perpetual shadows and darkened streets, smoky clubs and depressingly foreboding institutions lighted accordingly. The message of the movie is a bit hazy, is Gwen's downfall the product of her torrid home life? A failure of the authorities to get her the help she needed? Or is it that Post War British Society had changed its outlook and was now looking after number one? Either way, Good-Time Girl is a biting bit of British noir, thrusting the female lead into a world where she is abused and used by those around her, harassed at regular intervals, and of course guided by that old devil of film noir, the vagaries of fate. 8.5/10
  • Jean Kent plays Gwen--a poor girl from a screwed up family. Her sense of right and wrong are sadly diminished and her father is abusive. So, she leaves home at 16 and tries to make her way in the world. But, she always seems to hang out with low-lifes--the sort of jerks that are constantly preying on society. Eventually, she's caught for one of their crimes but she runs away from prison. At this point, she's a mess but she's not necessarily evil. But, soon after escaping, she begins to hit the bottle and becomes a very active and willing participant in a life of crime. And, in the process, she becomes a total mess.

    All in all, an entertaining film. And, while it could have been made as a purely sensationalistic movie, this one is able to tell a gritty story and yet not revel in it. Enjoyable and entertaining.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Warning: spoilers. Gwen, a teenage girl leaves a brutal home and falls into bad company. Sent to reform school she gets wised up quickly, and embarks on a criminal career.

    The British *do* do sordid nicely! From the heroine's slum home through to the gangland nightclubs she comes to inhabit I was given the clear impression that her world was nasty, corrupt and dangerous. Jean Kent, the actress who played Gwen, brought the part off well too. She was convincingly innocent and rebellious in the beginning; convincingly hard and amoral at the end.

    The plot was fast paced and the script tight. The movie never bogged down at any point, possibly because it was tightly focused on the main character. The peripheral characters were neatly sketched in. Some verged on the edge of cliche, but since they were only there to move Gwen's story along, they never quite tipped over the edge.

    That being said, there are parts of the movie which are hokey. The first instance which struck me was the scene where Gwen's father thrashes her with his belt - it was quite plain to me that the actor was doing his best to miss Jean Kent. The framing story which surrounds the main plot seemed unnecessary and begged the question how the narrator of Gwen's story knew all the details of her career. I suspect it was put there to point out the moral to "Good Time Girl"'s original audience. I also suspect that the movie was originally promoted with slogans such as "From Today's Headlines!"
  • AAdaSC21 February 2011
    Warning: Spoilers
    The Juvenile Court chairman (Flora Robson) recounts a story to Lyla (Diana Dors) to put her off a life of crime. We follow the story of Gwen (Jean Kent) as she runs away from home and gets mixed up with shady characters. Each situation that she finds herself in leads to new tragedies until the end where she accidentally meets up with Red (Dennis Price) again, the only man that she has ever loved. However, she is now part of a ruthless gang - she tries to save Red from his fate at the hands of this gang but things have now gone too far out of control. At the end of the film, Lyla decides she doesn't want a life like Gwen's and agrees to go home to her parents....

    This is a fast-moving film. We have at least four separate sections which involve Gwen and a different set of friends as she drifts through life. The cast are good and we are taken through a world of nightclubs, street gangs, playboys, borstal, soldiers on the run and we also have a doomed love interest. No-one does well in this film and I mean NO-ONE. It's a downbeat film but enjoyable.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I note that one poster here has already noted the glaring holes in the plot though he or she might have added the fact that when, after a few months at most in Reform School Jean Kent escapes and attempts to reconnect with night-club owner Herbert Lom the doorman tells her that Lom is long gone and now has a club in Brighton. Cut to that same club in Brighton, up and running and clearly long-established. This is not only highly improbably but also essentially meaningless give that there was no reason plot-wise for this migration. On the other hand we have to be aware that audiences in the forties were far less demanding than we are today and as ample evidence suggests would swallow almost anything if the packaging was pretty enough. This is our old friend the Morality Tale writ large. Asked to 'have a word' with a confused young runaway (Diana Dors) before she is fully committed to a downward spiral, lady magistrate Flora Robson tells Dors what happened to good-time girl Jean Kent. This was, remember, the late forties and to paraphrase Raymond Chandler's remark that Alan Ladd was a small boy's idea of a tough guy Dors here is a virginal schoolgirl's idea of a tart. Jean Kent was a fine actress and only three or four years away from the best role of her career in the Terence Rattigan-Puffin Asquith The Browning Version and though all she had to do here was phone it in she did so via one of those white telephones beloved of Italian cinema. They wheeled out all the stalwarts of British cinema support groups and it was a fairly innocuous entry that did little harm and left no trace.
  • When this film had been completed an official from the Home Office viewed it and as a result the Labour government tries to stop the film being released.The reason for this was the poor light in which the approved school system was shown.So the producers had to shoot the framing device with Flora Robson.It is clear that the authorities did not know what to do about teenagers.In fact this film shows Jean Kent's character in a favourable light and authority less so.After all because Kent has been beaten by her father and cant go home she is given 3 years in an approved school.So rather typical of the period Kent has a whale of a time till the last reel when she must pay for misdeeds.The last part of the film is based on real events which were portrayed in a later film with Emily Lloyd Pack.
  • bkoganbing3 November 2014
    In one of her earliest roles young teen Diana Dors is being given a lecture by social worker Flora Robson on the evils of wilful disobedience to her parents. Flora decides to best make her point by example and she chooses to tell Diana the story of Jean Kent and her downward spiral from when she started out as a teen delinquent just like Dors.

    It begins innocently enough, Kent has a job in a pawnshop and she borrows some of the jewelry to wear on a date. The owner catches her and threatens to report her to the police. But he'll forget it with a quick roll in the hay. She goes home and dad whales the tar out of her. After that it's a lot of poor choices combined with being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people.

    Kent does a fine job even though she's 27 years old as the troubled young post war British girl. Along the way she meets up with playboy Dennis Price, club owner Herbert Lom, hood Peter Glenville, and finally deserter American soldier Bonar Colleano who puts the final touch to a short but violent criminal career.

    A good ensemble cast backs Kent. But the story is about her and she's memorable in her part.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Girls running wild must have been a post war problem and films of that period were at pains to point out the sticky situations they faced when they found themselves in company with usually older experienced criminals. Jean Kent scored the role of a lifetime as Gwen Rawlings who seems destined for a fast race to the devil!! You never doubt that she is 16 or the pride she feels when mistaken for 24!!

    Initial scenes show a young Diana Dors as an underage runaway, too frightened to return home to her brute of a father - Flora Robson as a sympathetic matron tells her the story of Gwen Rawlings, hoping to bring the girl to her senses. Jean Kent, interviewed for the book "60 Voices" felt that the character in the original book was more believable for being not quite the wide eyed innocent portrayed in the movie. I still thought Kent was terrific - she had the deck stacked against her from the start but still wanted to be where all the bad action was!! Firstly, trying to put back a necklace she had borrowed from a dance the night before, she rebuffs the slimy jeweller's advances, is quickly fired and then has to face her father's violence. It's all downhill from there!! Thrown out of home, she is quickly drawn into the underworld of London where a spiv at her lodging house gets her a job as a club hostess.

    There are a couple of decent people - Herbert Lom as the tough club manager realises she is out of her depth and Dennis Price as Mike Farrell who wants to help her but can't offer her long term happiness as his separation from his wife is only temporary. For every nice person she meets there are any number of thugs and petty criminals ready to give her the excitement she wants and aiding in her degradation. For the first one, she ends up in a woman's prison, the next, Danny Martin (Griffith Jones, one time Jessie Matthews co-star, who found his true calling with a string of psychopath roles) leaves her for dead in a railway carriage. She is found by two G.Is who seem innocuous enough but they are AWOLs and she then finds herself as part of a crime gang - she the lure, while they provide the thuggery!! The film comes to an electrifying climax as one of the cars who stop to help an "hysterical" woman, turns out to be the only person who ever looked out for her - Farrell. Too late, her hysterics are soon for real as she urges him not to stop!!

    First class movie - Jean Kent is the whole show, Dennis Price does his usual gentlemanly turn and Bonar Colleano is super as the dark hearted G.I.

    Very Recommended.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Would have liked Diana Dors to ask Flora Robson if she thought she was right to send Jean Kent to approved school.I'm certain this film was based on the real life Karl Hulton and Elizabeth Jones one of 1944.