A movie poster for the film, “Portrait of Jennie.”
“Portrait of Jennie”
By Richard Mabey Jr.
“Portrait of Jennie” is an incredible film. It is a fantasy film. It was released in 1948. Simply put, it is an outstanding film. It stars Jennifer Jones as Jennie Appleton and Joseph Cotten as Eben Adams. Both of these actors give spell binding performances in this ground breaking, fantasy film. The film costars Ethel Barrymore as Miss Spinney and Cecil Kellaway as Mr. Matthews.
Joseph Cotten and Jennifer Jones in a scene from “Portrait of Jennie.”
Eben Adams is a struggling artist. Not only is Eben struggling with making a buck at his art, he is also struggling with his own personal self esteem. He is constantly questioning his talent as an artist. Eben lives in Manhattan. This motion picture was filmed in Manhattan. It was filmed in black and white, so there is that eerie use of lighting and shadows which adds a fuller dimension to the fantasy aspect of this film.
Ethel Barrymore in a scene from “Portrait of Jennie.”
Eben first meets Jennie, while he is sitting on a bench in Central Park. He is flat broke. And, he just got another rejection in an attempt to sell one of his paintings to an art dealer. He is despondent, deeply depressed.
Eben’s first meeting with Jennie. She appears to be about 12 years old.
When Eben first meets Jennie, she appears to be a young girl of about 12 years old. Strangely enough, and done with good taste, Eben is rather enchanted with the young girl. He shows her his paintings. In a flash, Jennie disappears. It is all so eerie. When Eban gets back to his sparsely furnished apartment, he begins to paint a portrait of Jennie. All based on his enchanted memory of her.
Joseph Cotten and Cecil Kellaway in a scene from “Portrait of Jennie.”
In a nutshell, every time Eben sees Jennie, she appears to be a little bit older. This is a great tribute to the costume designers and the makeup artists of this film. And it cannot be forgotten, a credit to Jennifer Jones’ acting talent.
Jennifer Jones in a scene from “Portrait of Jennie.” You can see in this picture how the use of lighting in the black and white format contributed to the eerie feeling of this film.
There is something very eerie about this film. It is a combination of the mysterious music, the strange lighting, the narration throughout the film by Joseph Cotten and the interior scene of Eben’s poorly furnished apartment. This film is truly a forerunner of “The Twilight Zone.”
Joseph Cotten and Jennifer Jones in a touching and heart warming moment.
There are more twists and turns in this film than can be found on the Blue Ridge Parkway. And, there’s an edge-of-your-seat ending that might just cause you to bite your fingernails down to nothing. The ending is just that good!
Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotten looking out to the New Jersey shore line, from Eben’s apartment’s balcony.
If you like love stories, if you like fantasy films, then this film is a must-see! It’s worth purchasing the DVD to see it. This is one great motion picture! I highly recommend it!