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Portrait of Jennie Film Review

Updated on October 4, 2017
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Louise is a film enthusiast and enjoys films particularly from the 40's and 50's era & enjoys writing about films she has seen.


Film Details

Producer: David O. Selznick, David Hempstead

Director: William Dieterle

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Drama

Running time: 1 hr 26 mins

Budget: $4,041,000 (approx)

Distributed by: Selznick Releasing Organisation

Jennifer Jones
Jennie Appleton
Ethel Barrymore
Mrs Spinney
Joseph Cotten
Eben Adams
Cecil Kellaway
Lillian Gish
Mother Mary of Mercy

About the film

Eben Adams is a painter that in recent times has been struggling with his work. On one occasion when he is in Central Park he meets the young Jennie Appleton. She has come to retrieve a scarf which she has left in a newspaper. What is strange from this first encounter is the way she is dressed. The young Jennie is dressed in such a style of clothing which is old fashioned for the time. The film is set in 1938, but the newspaper the scarf is in is dated from the 1910's. What is also strange in this first instance is when she has finished talking to him, she dashes off. But when he turns to see where she has gone, she has disappeared.

This is a hauntingly beautifully made film where we find that Jennie isn't all she seems to be. She seems to grow up very quickly, much quicker than we normally do. But this doesn't stop Eben from having a fondness for her. He notices her beauty, and from that first encounter with her in Central Park, he sketches her. As she grows into a woman she does, indeed, become more beautiful and radiant. He asks if he can paint her, to which she accepts. As we see throughout this movie, the pair fall in love and seem to fill a void in both of their empty lives. But, things aren't all what they seem with Jennie, as we shall see towards the end of the film. Jennie agrees to sit for a portrait for Eben. This portrait, ultimately, is Ebens saving grace, but it does come at a cost. Throughout the film we see a lot of how Jennie enters Eben life and disappears as quickly as she appears.

When Jennie spots one of Ebens paintings, she tells him that it makes her sad. The painting is of a lighthouse on Cape Cod. She doesn't tell him why it makes her sad though. But he quickly moves the painting from her view without question. As Eben grows ever more attracted to Jennie, he decided to dig a little deeper into the life of Jennie, which takes him to a convent where Jennie was educated. He meets Mother Mary of Mercy, where he finds out some unexpected news about her.


In Summary

I found this film to be a truly magnificent masterpiece. It has a slight gothic, haunting feel to it. But on the other side, it is ultimately a love story which includes hope, love and sadness. I love how they portrayed Jennie at the beginning of the film as a young girl, and we swiftly see her growing up in the film. Jennie isn't all what she seems, but one thing I do know, is that she ends up helping Eben in the end and making his life effectively better. The story was excellently well written and thought of. The film is based on the book by Robert Nathan that was published in 1940. The acting I found to be just perfect, especially from the 2 main people in the show, Joseph Cotten and Jennifer Jones. Would I recommend this film? Most definitely! This is a film I'm not going to forget in a hurry. Yes, it did make me cry, but also left me feeling I could really connect with the character of Eben Adams.

Academy Awards
Best Effects, Special Effects
Best Cinematography, Black-and-White
Venice Film Festival
Best Actor, Joseph Cotten
Best Actor, William Dieterle

Portrait of Jennie Trailer

© 2017 Louise Powles


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    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 4 months ago from Norfolk, England

      Thankyou Robin for the lovely comment. Yes, I love these old films. They don't make films like that these days, do they?

    • RobinReenters profile image

      Robin Carretti 4 months ago from Hightstown

      I immensely enjoyed this writing I love the classic the movies they were so delightful than the time of today your pictures took me into another time truly awesome

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 5 months ago from SW England

      Sounds like a great story and film; I'll look out for it.


    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 6 months ago from Oklahoma

      Looks interesting.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 6 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for the review. You make me want to meet Jennie and follow her journey.

    • littlebluefeather profile image

      JL Reyes 6 months ago from The Edge of Saturns Rings

      Hey! Haha love your review!! there's no spoilers haha I wonder what he finds out about her past....

    • shprd74 profile image

      Hari Prasad S 6 months ago from Bangalore

      Fantastic review. Can't wait to watch. :-) Hope I can get it on play store.

      - hari

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 6 months ago from USA

      I’ve never heard of this one. I don’t know how you find all these old movies to review. I enjoyed reading about Jennie and Eben.