“Portrait of Jennie” (1949)

The opening of the film- WOW!
The opening of the film- WOW!

This is one of the MOST beautifully lighted movies I’ve ever seen!  It also has an unusual, engaging, and (unapologetically) romantic storyline.  If you liked The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, you should check out Portrait of Jennie.  Eben Adams (Joseph Cotton) is a struggling artist in NYC, hoping and waiting for a spark of inspiration.  He paints for a living, earns some money, BUT wants to create a great piece. 

"I wish you were older."
"I wish you were older," Eben tells Jennie.

One day in Central Park, Eben meets an unusually pretty, cheerful young girl named Jennie Appleton (Jennifer Jones).  They chat as she skates across the pond.  Eben is captivated by Jennie’s face, and wants to paint her portrait.  But Jennie has to leave.


Eben tells his friends, art dealer, and gallery owner (played by Ethel Barrymore) about Jennie; she has become his inspiration.  He looks for her in the park for several days.  When he sees Jennie again, she has grown a bit older!  How can that be?  Eben asks to meet her parents, so he can get permission to paint her.  Jennie says that her parents died in a high-wire accident.  She doesn’t give her address.  Eben does some research to find out more about this mysterious girl.        

The third time Jennie appears, she’s in Eben’s studio.  She’s a full-grown woman, ready to attend convent school (college).   Eben, overjoyed and in love, can finally work on her portrait.
We always want what we can't have!
We always want what we can't have!
Before the portrait is finished, Jennie has to go away again.  She’s gone for some time, and Eben despairs of ever seeing her again.  He waits by a park bench as night.  When she does come again, Jennie (a sophomore in college) admits that she’s in love with Eben.  They walk through the streets of NYC all night, talking and wishing they could stay together for longer.
The finished portrait
The finished portrait

This film has an aura of mystery, suspense, and sweetness.  Is Jennie a ghost?  And is there any way for these lovers to be together?

3 thoughts on ““Portrait of Jennie” (1949)

  1. I’m glad to learn of this movie – Portrait of Jennie – I’ve never seen it or heard of it. I will definitely make a point of seeing it now. Thanks!


  2. I love this movie, and the FAITH and HOPE it exhibits. THE PORTRAIT still exists; Ive seen it on FLICKER photos, a bit gaudy in its display. I wish the people who own it now in CALIF would realize what they have and how much it means to so many people. These things should be exhibited, not hoarded in some gaudy corner of a California hacienda.


  3. Arrrgh! When I started reading this post, I had no intention, whatsoever of seeing this movie.

    But the way you have your readers hanging their at the end, makes me actually want to see it!

    Darn you and your good marketing techniques!!!

    BTW, that first shot you have provided does have some amazing lighting.


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