Portrait of Jennie Screen 4 articles

Portrait of Jennie


Portrait of Jennie Poster
  • This delirious 1948 romance is usually written off as the folly of producer David O. Selznick, though director William Dieterle (known as “Wilhelm” when he was an actor for Murnau) handled a number of similar projects in the late 40s, drawing on his experiences in the German expressionist cinema of the 1920s.

  • It's a haunting evocation of one man’s pained artistic process, and the genius of the film is how Dieterle delicately equates the creative impulse to an ever-evolving spiritual crisis... Not since Murnau’s Sunrise had a film so fascinatingly and tirelessly concerned itself with the nature of obsession as Portrait of Jennie.

  • Portrait is an astonishingly rich and atmospheric film that slips over the viewer like a shroud. As he proved with The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) and The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), especially, Hollywood workhorse Dieterle was a master of sustained mood, of making watching a film feel like entering a fugue state. From what I’ve seen of his work, Portrait of Jennie is his greatest accomplishment in this regard.

  • ...The differences were intensely palpable—from the way the Matthews and Spinney sign glittered outside the art gallery as Joseph Cotten's Eben Adams stepped inside, to the haunting depth that the filters on shots of Central Park allowed. More impressive, however, was how the images worked hand in hand with the disparate audio, often seeming to be slightly out of sync or to be coming from a different source than the image suggested, to form a cinematic world completely on its own jarring terms.

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