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Portrait of Jennie

Portrait of Jennie(1949)

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The working title of this film was Tidal Wave. The picture opens with an offscreen narrator (uncredited), who introduces the story. The narration is then taken over by Joseph Cotten as "Eben Adams," who periodically provides a voice-over that bridges the various appearances of "Jennie." A number of scenes open with shots resembling the texture of an oil on canvas painting. Two quotations are also included in the opening title cards: "Who knoweth if to die be but to live...And that called life by mortals but be death," from Phrixus, fragment 830, by Euripides and "Beauty is Truth, truth beauty that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know," from the poem "Ode to Melancholy," by John Keats. All of the film's cast and crew credits are presented at the end of the film, along with a written acknowledgment to Bernard Herrmann, Robert Brackman and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Among the themes heard in the film are some from Claude Debussy's "Afternoon of a Faun."
       The picture was shot on location in New York City, Boston and parts of New England. News items reported that Portrait of Jennie was the first feature to be shot at RKO's newly constructed New York studios. According to a March 9, 1949 Hollywood Reporter news item, New York and Los Angeles screenings of the film featured a "Cycloramic screen together with Multi-sound" during the storm sequences. Daily Variety commented that the screen "opens up to thrice normal size for a magnificently lensed hurricane; a spellbinding score by Dimitri Tiomkin; four tints for various sequences-black-and-white during early footage, green for the storm, sepiatone for the lull that follows, and a Technicolor finale." The film's special effects crew received an Academy Award for their efforts on the film, and Joseph August, who died during the film's production, was nominated for Best Cinematographer (b&w). The Hollywood Reporter production chart published October 3, 1947 indicates that cinematographer Paul Eagler completed the photography; however, modern sources credit Lee Garmes with photographing the few remaining scenes. Joseph Cotten was awarded the Venice Film Festival Best Actor of the Year Award for his portrayal of "Eben Adams."
       Modern sources add the following production credits: Ed asst Barbara Keon; 2d asst dir Harry Anderson; Scr clerk Charlsie Bryant; Research Ann Harris; Cast dir Ruth Burch; Camera Operator Curt Fetters; Stills John Miehle; Ward supv Frank Beetson; Assistant Ann Peck; Construction Supervisor Harold Fenton; Chief elec Ed Harman; Head grip Morris Rosen; Props Arden Cripe; Draperies Harry Apperson; Eff projection Robert Hansard; Spec eff cam Harry Wolf; Assistant Camera Joe Kelley; Skating supv Skippy Baxter; Stills John Miehle. As indicated by Hollywood Reporter production charts, filming on Portrait of Jennie was halted in mid-April 1947. Modern sources attribute the five-week delay in production to David O. Selznick's dissatisfaction with "the script, the cost, the location sites and the way Jennifer Jones photographed." He then hired a new writer to rework the script while production was shut down. A radio adaptation of the film was broadcasted on Lux Radio Theatre on October 31, 1949 and featured Joseph Cotten and Anne Baxter in the title role. According to a Variety news item, the film was acquired for redistribution in December 1973. Nat King Cole's 1949 hit, "Portrait of Jennie," music by J. Russell Robinson and lyrics by Gordon Burdge, was not heard in the film. According to modern sources, Gregory Peck and Laurence Olivier were considered for the role of Eben Adams.