Romantic Fantasy (spoiler).
- Portrait of Jennie review by Steve Mason
A whimsical ghost story produced by David Selznick to star his soon-to-be wife Jennifer Jones. It's a hyper-romance about how some people are meant to be together, no matter what, even if it breaks the laws that bind the universe.
Eben Adams (Joseph Cotten) is a struggling artist who meets Jennie as a child in Central Park, New York and sketches her. This provides him with a rare sale and enough money to eat and pay the rent. He begins a portrait... Adams occasionally meets her again but makes the unsettling discovery that she seems to come back to him from the past, and always a few years older. Eben and Jennie fall in love even though it appears she died in an accident at sea many years ago.
Portrait of Jennie is sweet, crazy hokum with the kind of lush orchestral score (Dimitri Tiomkin) typical of Hollywood romantic fantasies. We even hear a choir of angels. It is all atmospherics. Jennie's theme (composed by Bernard Herrmann) is haunting. Cotten and Jones are glamorous as the lovers who find each other across time.
It is also pretty spooky. The b&w photography is lovely, particularly the location work in Central Park. Dieterle sometimes places gauze over his lens which makes the shot itself look like a canvas. The film concludes with a tsunami off the coast of Massachusetts which is extremely powerfully done, and finally a shot of the sad/beautiful Jennie in colour hung on the wall of a gallery, a mysterious painting which enchants those who stand before it.
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