Portrait of Jennie (1948)

“I know we were meant to be together. The strands of our lives are woven together and neither the world nor time can tear them apart.” Based on a 1940 novel by Robert Nathan, who also wrote The Bishop’s Wife, this romantic fantasy did poorly at the box office when it was released on Christmas Day 1948 but has developed quite a cult following over the years. Directed by William Dieterle (The Devil and Daniel Webster) and produced by David O. Selznick, Portrait of Jennie stars Joseph Cotten as struggling artist “Eben Adams,” who meets the mysterious “Jennie Appleton” (Jennifer Jones, who married Selznick in 1949) in Central Park one day. Adams decides to paint Jennie’s portrait from memory and discover the mystery of this haunting beauty’s true identity (she seems to age dramatically every time Adams encounters her). Film’s climax takes place at an abandoned lighthouse during a ferocious storm. Not a bad way to spend 86 minutes. Cast includes legendary actresses Ethel Barrymore (as an art dealer) and Lillian Gish (as a nun). Also look for Nancy Davis (Reagan) as one of the teenagers in the art gallery. Portrait of Jennie, which was filmed in black and white, features outstanding cinematography by Joseph H. August, who passed away before the film was released. Cotten and Jones had appeared together two years earlier in the Western Duel in the Sun (1946). The portrait itself was painted by artist Robert Brackman (1898-1980). Both Vivien Leigh and Shirley Temple were reportedly considered for the role of Jennie.

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