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Fascinating Films: Portrait of Jennie

Classic cinema has always played a big role in my life; no pun intended! I consumed silent movie marathons at the age of 13 and had no trouble committing to memory the names and films of stars from the 1930’s, '40’s and '50’s. All this may have seemed rather incongruous for a kid growing up in the 1970s and '80s. I have no doubt that I’ve lived past lives working in and around Hollywood production lots. It’s just a world that seems so familiar to me. You’ll notice that I’ll often reference movies as subjects for my blog posts. For many of us, movies can be powerful purveyors of meaning and messages; sometimes even beyond their creators initial intentions. I love to share what I consider to be these gems of classic cinema. So many movies are timeless, or even better, can transport us back to simpler, less complicated times. When I first saw the 1948 movie ‘Portrait of Jennie’, a few years ago, I was captivated not only by the story, but by the unique way in which it was told. This movie, with its touches of cinematic magic and its hauntingly beautiful soundtrack, is a work of art in itself. I watched it again just the other night. As the story begins, we meet Eben Adams (Joseph Cotten); a struggling artist in Depression-era New York. One day, while walking in Central Park and despairing at his lack of success, he meets a singular little girl: Jennie Appleton (Jennifer Jones). Jennie’s ethereal, old-fashioned quality yet familiar manner captivate Adams. Although she is but a young girl, Jennie asks Adams to wait for her to grow up so that they can be together forever. Adams comes to realize, after several chance encounters with Jennie, that she has come to him from the past and that they share a special destiny. It’s a beautiful story and a story that has been told through the medium of film many times over: two people coming together from different times, yet sharing a bond and a love so strong that it transcends all Earthly boundaries. It’s a theme offered in movies like The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), Somewhere In Time (1980), Outlander (2014) and The Lake House (2006), to name but a few. The stuff of fantasy? Perhaps, but as Shakespeare once so eloquently said, “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

You can watch ‘Portrait of Jennie’ on YouTube: https://youtu.be/qmF3rL2HadU


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