Portrait of Jennie (1948)

dir. William Dieterle. During a snowy winter’s night in Central Park, struggling artist Eben Adams (Joseph Cotton) meets Jennie (Jennifer Jones), a young girl playing in the snow. They become friends, with Jennie as his muse, and Eben as her hope for a more promising future. A strange, surrealistic, and very sentimental romance, best watched without advance knowledge of the plot. The visual effects are very subtle, using some traditional camera techniques that would be used again 53 years later by Peter Jackson in his Lord of the Rings trilogy. The omnipresent Debussy soundtrack, and the tendency of dialogue to blend naturalistic speech with pure poetry create a dreamlike atmosphere that could be cloying but is mercifully broken up by some wonderful supporting characters. My favourite is Eben’s generous mechanic pal, Gus O’Tool who convinces his Irish compatriot and publican Mr Moore, to hire Eben to paint a mural of Michael Collins by playing on his sense of patriotism. “Up the rebels! Up the rebels!

By Nicholas Hudson-Ellis

Co-Founder & Film Programs Manager of Bangkok Screening Room.