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The Times (22/Jul/1941) - Personal tributes - Seb-Lieutenant F. Penrose Tennyson

The Times (22/Jul/1941)



Mr. Michael Balcon writes:-

By the death of Penrose Tennyson, British films have lost a craftsman whose achievements were already great and whose promise was greater. To the sense of personal loss which all of us feel who were his colleagues and his friends must be added the loss sustained by an industry to which he was devoted and to which he contributed so generously. He was educated at Eton, and after a short time at Balliol came to me at Gaumont British in 1931. He was then aged 19, and was given a job as a junior assistant. When he had been with us for three years he was already established as a first assistant who commanded the respect of such senior technicians as Mr. Alfred Hitchcock, with whose films be was to be associated for the next two or three years, and of the studio personnel as a whole. It was apparent then that he was absorbing a craft at which he would soon overtake his mentors. Among the films on which he worked as first assistant to the director were: A Yank at Oxford (Jack Conway) and The Citadel (King Vidor).

His first chance to direct came when he moved with me to Ealing Studios. His first film there was There Ain't No Justice, and his second The Proud Valley. War broke out when the latter film was in production, but before he was called up Tennyson was able also to direct Convoy; a film about the Navy, which has been regarded by many as this country's most valuable film contribution in this war. There was a poetic quality inherent in Tennyson which sought expression in the new medium of films. He was preoccupied "with social problems and this preoccupation is apparent in his first two films. Knowing him as I did, I have no doubt that it was the use of the film medium in presenting these problems which most interested him, and I am sure that it was on these lines that his work would have developed.