No credits at all are shown at the beginning except for the studio logo, not even the title of the film. Instead, we hear a narrator speaking the prologue, and then announcing, "And now, 'Portrait of Jennie'". The credits are saved for the end of the picture. See more »
It's the middle of the Depression, 1934, and struggling artist Joseph Cotten can't seem to find his muse. But one day he meets a strange, but enchanting girl while in Central Park. He resolves right then and there to paint a Portrait of Jennie.
Allowing for the fact that this is a fantasy, a whole lot of the story makes absolutely no sense. But you really don't care because Joseph Cotten and Jennifer Jones have an almost spiritual like chemistry. As Cotten investigates he finds there's real good reason for the girl's spirituality. Every time he meets her she seems to take some quantum leaps in her maturity.
The stars of Finian's Rainbow, Albert Sharpe and David Wayne, both appear in this film. This was David Wayne's big screen debut and I certainly did love the scene where he bamboozles Sharpe into commissioning Cotten to paint a mural of Michael Collins for his Irish pub. Cotten catches on and kind of goes with the flow.
Being this is a Jennifer Jones film by her husband David O. Selznick, this is still another vehicle for Selznick to exhibit the beauty that was Jennifer Jones. Every film she did, because Selznick interfered with all of them even if he wasn't directly producing, is a testament to his vision of her. Even when she's playing bad girls like Pearl Chavez or Ruby Gentry, you get a good idea what stirred David O. Selznick to devote the rest of his life to her career.
Ethel Barrymore as the society dowager and Lillian Gish as a Mother Superior are also well cast. Too bad those two had no scenes together, that would have been something.
Portrait of Jennie is an enchanting film about an enchanting girl played by one enchanting actress. What else can you say, but enchanting.
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