"Haunting, exquisite, dreamlike film, which brought out my hidden-deep-inside emotions, myself not being a very emotional or demonstrative person, making it a definitely one-of-a-kind experience for me, just like "I'll Never Forget You" (1951), a remake of Leslie Howard's "Berkeley Square" (1933), starring Tyrone Power and Ann Blyth, made a likewise impression when I was just a child. Although, it must be said, "Portrait of Jennie" is a superior film.There's something with these people-meeting-from-different-times-theme-based films, that have this special, strange & weird effect on me, being this movie (in my opinion) the definite masterpiece of its kind. For those who are interested, besides the mentioned above, you can try both versions of "Smilin' Through" (1932 & 1941), "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" (1947), "Somewhere in Time" (1980), and although not strictly of the kind, "Peter Ibbetson" (1935).Jennifer Jones does a very fine job in the difficult part of the ethereal Jennie, giving credibility at the character's different stages of her life. Joseph Cotten, a very fine actor, is absolutely believable as the obsessed artist, who learns (unknowingly) that until one really loves somebody, one hasn't really lived.Ethel Barrymore, grand dame of the American Theater and an occasional character film actress, gives a great performance in a part worthy of her talent, as the owner of an Art Gallery who befriends Cotten, becoming sort of her mentor. Others in the exceptional supporting cast: Cecil Kellaway (as Barrymore's partner), sweet grand lady of the silent screen, the legendary Lillian Gish (as a Nun) and funny and very human David Wayne (as Cotten's pal).Trust me, if you're a sensitive person, this movie will linger in your mind for several days after watching it, and it won't end there, you will want to "experience" it again and again. Since I bought this dvd, and I've got a big video and dvd collection, I have watched it at least four times, not counting all the times I had previously seen it on TV's late night showings.The dvd edition quality is very good and it gives one the special opportunity of watching the film in the original way it was intended to be seen, most of it in black and white, then switching to green shading (for the storm sequence), then to sepia tone and the final shot in full Technicolor, a special treat.The dvd has no bonuses, except for the film's original trailer and, believe me, this picture does not need anything else!!Jennifer Jones & Joseph Cotten starred in three other excellent pictures prior to this final pairing: "Since You Went Away" (1944), "Love Letters" (1945) and "Duel in the Sun", all of them produced by David O. Selznick, Jones' second husband."
HAUNTED MASTERPIECE AN UNDERRATED CLASSIC
Nix Pix | Windsor, Ontario, Canada | 10/15/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Portrait of Jennie" is the embodiment of ethereal supernatural melodrama at its very best. The film stars Joseph Cotton as disgruntled artist, Eben Adams. Disgusted at his inability to make inroads into the artistic community, Adams artistic sensibilities are castrated by gallery owner, Miss Spinney (Ethel Barrymore) who points out that there is no passion in his work. Disillusioned once more, Adams is all set to toss his fledgling career in the ash can when he suddenly comes in contact with the sprite, Jennie (Jennifer Jones). Though she too doesn't have much to say about Adams work, he suddenly becomes inspired by her and begins to sketch her portrait in Central Park. However, before he can finish, Jennie vanishes into thin air. Taken with the experience, Adams persists to draw Jennie from memory and consequently finds his muse. Throughout the film, Adams will repeatedly come in contact with the ghostly Jennie; each time she grows older than during their previous meetings. Not until Adams confronts an old nun, Mother Mary of Mercy (Lillian Gish) is the secret of Jennie finally revealed. By 1948 David O. Selznick was fighting a losing war on a double front. His dreams of transforming his wife, Jennifer Jones into an actress, the stature of Garbo, had been met with increasing critical disdain. He was also by this point in his professional career well into a period of economic decline from which he and his studio would never recover. That "Portrait of Jennie" failed to find its audience at the box office suggests more of a post war cynicism for films with embellished romantic subplots - all of which had been highly successful and in great demand during Selznick's 30s tenure. However, at the time of its release it did nothing to alleviate Selznick's fiscal crisis. MGM's DVD is rather impressive. The B&W picture exhibits a very nicely balanced gray scale with smooth, solid blacks and very clean whites. Age related artifacts are present throughout but do not distract. Some minor edge enhancement crops up but pixelization is kept to a minimum. Overall the picture will surely not disappoint. The audio is mono but more than adequate for a film of this vintage. There are no extras. "
A Painting Come To Life
James L. | 09/01/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Joseph Cotten stars as a struggling artist trying to find the passion and inspiration to bring his art to life. A chance encounter in a park with a young girl named Jennie begins to spark his work, and their infrequent meetings afterwards fuel his creativity and feelings. Oddly, she seems to come from an earlier time and each occasion he meets her, she ages more than the time that has passed. He slowly pieces together the mystery of who she really is.Cotten gives one of his best performances in this ethereal story. He's very convincing as the artist whose muse and love may very well be some sort of ghost. Jennifer Jones stars as the title character, and despite being given some heavy-handed dialogue, makes the character of Jennie quite believable at all stages of her life. The supporting cast is excellent, with particular praise going to a well cast Ethel Barrymore as the gallery owner who takes Cotten under her wing. She brings a weary, sad quality that matches the film perfectly.The photography of the film is remarkable, having the quality of a painting throughout, with the last ten minutes very effectively filmed in Technicolor. The music also adds the other-worldly quality that permeates the movie.The opening "lecture" of the film, however, is awkwardly done, hurt by some of the overbaked writing that occasionally plagues the dialogue. But the rest of the film succeeds admirably, creating a mood and romantic feeling that sustains the unusual story. It's unlike any other film you will see from that era."
James L. | 10/05/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A wonderful, haunting film that can be seen many times. Jennifer Jones is fantastic as Jennie, a mysterious young lady who inspires artist Eben Adams, excellently played by Joseph Cotton. The score, comprised of music of DeBussy, perfectly fits the drama on the screen. A great cast of supporting players are also at their best here: Lillian Gish, Ethel Barrymore, David Wayne, and Cecil Kellaway. Jennifer Jones is delightful as Jennie, aging from a child to young woman. Joseph Cotton and Jennifer Jones were a wonderful screen team and were at their best in this film and also in Love Letters. Viewers of this film glimpse New York City of decades past and see Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in glorious black and white. The most haunting and dramatic sequence is the hurricane sequence at the Lighthouse. Another memorable image is the portrait itself, shown in brilliant technicolor.This is one of Selznick's best and is a truly classic movie. It convincingly conveys the message that love is eternal."
A Haunting, Timeless Romance.
J. Kara Russell | Hollywood - the cinderblock Industrial cubicle | 10/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is a magical gem. Despite the heavy-handed opening titles which were in vogue in the 40s, this story is one of a timeless love, and artistic inspiration. Set in New York in the 1940s, Joseph Cotton is a struggling painter who finds artistic inspiration in a chance encounter with an engaging little girl. But the girl becomes a mystery, as everything she talks about is from a past generation, and she asks him to wait for her to grow up. Their chance meetings increase, and the threads of the mystery start piecing together, as each time they meet, she is significantly older. She in this world, but not of this world, and the entire film is as enchanting to the viewer as Jennie (Jennifer Jones) is to Eben (Cotton). Ethyl Barrimore, another actress who always had an "other world" quality becomes Eben's mentor in the art world, and his mother-figure confidant. Through her caring eyes we see both how his friends love him and fear for how the world would think he is insane. Beautifully shot in ways that are still astounding, to make the film look like a painter's canvas, and also to make Jennie look somehow far away, even when she is in Eben's arms, the film is mainly in black and white, but as we reach the stormy climax, color comes into the frame, until the final shot in full color is the full realization of the promise of the film. Rarely has any film so successfully had the filming itself be as magical as the story. This is the ultimate romantic fantasy, a story and film that love can not only transcend time, it is beyond time. Beautiful in every respect.