115 user 44 critic

Portrait of Jennie (1948)

Approved | | Drama, Romance, Fantasy | 22 April 1949 (USA)
A mysterious girl inspires a struggling artist.



(novel), (adaptation) | 2 more credits »

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Miss Spinney
Mother Mary of Mercy
Gus O'Toole
Albert Sharpe ...
Mrs. Jekes (landlady)
Capt. Cobb
Maude Simmons ...
Clara Morgan


Eben Adams is a talented but struggling artist in Depression era New York who has never been able to find inspiration for a painting. One day, after he finally finds someone to buy a painting from him, a pretty but odd young girl named Jennie Appleton appears and strikes up an unusual friendship with Eben. Written by Albert Sanchez Moreno (a.moreno@mindspring.com) with correction by John Knoderer (GodLovesEveryone.org@mazes.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


ARE YOU IN LOVE THIS WEEK? If you are - you'll get a double thrill from this most romantic of all love stories about a man who was in love with a girl who lived twenty years before his time. If you aren't - it may change your ideas on the subject for the rest of your life.


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

22 April 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tidal Wave  »

Box Office


$4,041,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(1956) (5.0) (L-R)| (Western Electric Recording)


(green tint and sepia tone for final reel, excluding last shot)| (Technicolor) (final shot)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Joan Fontaine starred in a Dec. 4, 1946 radio adaptation of the Robert Nathan novella on "Academy Award." See more »


During the scene where Eben first meets Jennie in the park, the snow on the front of her coat comes and goes. See more »


Jennie Appleton: I wish that you would wait for me to grow up so that we could always be together.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »


Referenced in Small Town Girl (1953) See more »


Arabesque No. 1 in E
Music by Claude Debussy
Adapted by Dimitri Tiomkin
Heard as background music and during closing credits
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

1940's Classic
2 November 2003 | by (Overland Park, KS) – See all my reviews

Although it is a story that no doubt stands on its own as a cinema classic, this film for sure reminded me of Somewhere In Time, which came along a generation later. Both stories dealt with men of artistic temperament with perhaps too vivid imagination, (Was it imagination, or something more?), that met extraordinary women out of their respective places and time. But, Portrait of Jennie is unique for several reasons. Joseph Cotten has never been given his due as one of the excellent actors of his generation and it is truly a pity that he and female lead Jennifer Jones as Jennie are not well known as one of screendoms great male/female screen teams. As always, it is not only the enchanting story that makes this film a classic, but just as important are the presence of the capable players. Players such as Ethel Barrymore, Cecil Kellaway and Lillian Gish are only a few of the many who appeared and made this a very unique and excellent film. In 1934 New York City, starving artist Eben Adams (Cotten) is having trouble selling his paintings. It seems there just isn't enough emotion in them. However, all of this changes when befriended by a pair of sympathetic art dealers (Kellaway and Barrymore), but more importantly, when he meets Jennie for the first time. Jennie appears to him first as a young girl, but promises to `grow up quickly.' Each succeeding time that Adams encounters her, she is older and the relationship deepens. Adams is disturbed by her comments and realizess that, if statements concerning her past and family are true, she should be perhaps 20 years older. In the meantime, Adams is inspired to begin a portrait of her, the `Portrait of Jennie.'

By film's end we have the final encounter between Adams, who has gone to great lengths to determine if Jennie's past is as she says it is, and Jennie on a rocky seashore during a violent storm. I will not divulge the ending. I'll say Adams survives the storm and, with new found emotion and compassion, becomes a highly successful artist. The very last scene shows the portrait, classified a masterpeiece, hanging in a museum. There are excellent location shots of 1940's New York City and it's various areas of interest. The Portait of Jennie, which we see in all it's glory at film's end, could well be a masterpiece in itself as a painting of the beautiful Jennifer Jones. As the saying goes, they don't make ‘em like this anymore but, in this case, `they' don't have to. We have our Portrait of Jennie, a film which transcends time and has withstood the test of time very, very well.

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