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344 Ratings

Portrait of Jennie

Directed by William Dieterle
United States, 1948
Drama, Fantasy, Romance


Eben Adams is a talented but struggling artist in Depression era New York. One day, after he finally finds someone to buy a painting from him, a pretty but odd young girl named Jennie Appleton appears and strikes up an unusual friendship with Eben.

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Portrait of Jennie Directed by William Dieterle

Awards & Festivals

Venice Film Festival

1949 | 2 wins including: Best Actor

Academy Awards

1949 | Winner: Best Effects, Special Effects

1949 | Nominee: Best Cinematography, Black-and-White

…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.
September 22, 2015
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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.
May 21, 2012
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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.
June 27, 2001
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