Portrait of Jennie

Synopsis: Eben Adams is a talented but struggling artist in Depression era New York who has never been able to find inspiration for a painting. 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.
Director(s): William Dieterle
Production: Selznick International
  Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 2 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
86 min

Since the beginning,

Man has looked into

the awesome reaches of infinity

and asked the eternal questions :

"What is time ?

What is space ?

"What is life ?

What is death ?"

Through a hundred civilisations,

philosophers and scientists

have come with answers.

But will doubt remains,

for each human soul

must find the secret of its own faith.

The tender and haunting legend

of a portrait of Jennie

is based on the

two ingredient of faith :

truth and hope.

There is such a portrait hung in

the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

And there was such a girl

named Jennie who sat for it.

So much is true.

For the rest, science tells

us that nothing ever dies,

but only changes.

But time itself does not pass,

but curves along us.

And the past and the future are

together on our side forever.

Out of the shadows of knowledge

and out of a painting hung on

a museum wall comes our story.

The truth of which lies

not on our screen,

but in your heart.

And now,

Portrait of Jennie.

New York is a cold place.

It was no warmer in

the winter of 1934.

Yet there is a type of

suffering for the artist,

which is worse than any

winter or part of it can do.

It is more like a

winter of the mind.

Dreadful feeling of the worlds indifference.

My courage had all run out.

Yes Sir, What can I do for you?

Well you can buy one of

my pictures perhaps

Yes, but we buy very very little,

almost nothing.

Times being what they are.

However, let me see what you have.

- Hmm, Hmm, landscapes.

Most like here, too bad.

These are the things

I did in Cape Cod.

These are the fisheries in North Truro.

Land's End.

Hmm, landscapes.

Theres some sketches of the city.

Thats the bridge.

There is a good bridge, but I

just don't happen to like bridges

They come everyday by a dozen

Miss Spinney, you stuffled me.

This is my partmer, Miss Spinney.

I don't think I caught your name.

I didn't say it.

My name is Eben Adams.

- What are you so dfensive about ?

- I'm not.

"I am Eben Adams."

Has to be better if you weren't.

You eat more.

Don't be in such a hurry.

Lets see what you got here.

Nothing that can interest

you and your partner.

You are probably right.

I like to see what interests you.

Sit down, Adams.

Maybe you do not sell anything,

but be sure rest.

I would advise you to sit.

- You paint nice flowers.

- Thank you.

- Have you read Robert Browning ?

- Long time ago.

Do you remember his poem

about Andrea del Sarto, the perfect painter ?

Proportion, anatomy, colour,

it had everything and nothing.

He painted a perfect hand

A Raphal

drew a famous claw.

Raphal loved his work.

Poor Andy del Sarto.

I think I get your point.

There isn't a proper

love in any of these.

- Come on Miss Spinney.

- Don't be soft, Matthews.

I am an old maid, nobody knows

more about love than an old maid.

Whats the matter with you, Adams ?

You have to learn to care

deeply to do something.

Now take the flower.

I have a weakness for flowers.

He doesn't do them too badly.

If its done 12,50 $ for.

Any arguement, there is no sales.

No arguements.

You pay him, Mr. Matthews.

Do you have a change for 1 $ ?

I haven't got a dime.

You lose 50 cents.

If you want more flowers,

I can't cower than a home.

I was afraid of that.

Good Day.

Thank you very much.

Good Day, Miss Spinney.

I don't think you really

wanted the picture.

If I hadn't wanted it,

I wouldn't have taken it.

You have beautiful eyes.

Good Bye.

Dear, I am afraid that the picture isn't

worth more than a couple of dollars.

I know, but Adams is.

Yes, but we are supposed to do

business for profit, Miss Spinney.

I thought.

I bought this for myself.

Its wonderful what a little

compliment can do.

My first in 20 years, Mr. Matthews.

At last I had a little money in my pocket.

But I think I was a little light headed,

for not having enough to eat.

Suddenly, I had the awareness

of something extraordinary.

The city sounds were mutated far away.

They seem to come from another time,

like the sound of summer

in a meadow long age.

Its mine.

Isn't anybody there with you ?

No, why should there be ?

Getting pretty dark,

won't you go home?

I don't have to go home yet,

nobody is ready for me.

Anyway, you are with me.

I am Jennie.

- Jennie, Jennie what ?

- Jennie Appleton.

Father and mother actor and actresses.

They are working on a

Hammerstein tutorial.

- They do juggling on a rope.

- What did you say, Hammerstein ?

Hmm, why?

Because it was stolen dry

years ago when I was a boy

You must be thinking of some other

place because I was there yesterday

- Oh now really...

- Now let me see your pictures Mister.


-How do you know that they are pictures ?

- I just know.

There are often little

windows in such a big church.

There have to be little, there

is so much wind in Cape Cod.

I don't like it, it scares me.

- The wind ?

- No, the black water.

There should be a lighthouse

at the end of the ocean.

Yes there should be.

How did you know ?

I don't exactly remember.

Someday I'll show it to you.

How are they on the rock

The Land's End light.

You said you didn't remember

I don't, I just know.

Wish I like your pictures,

but I don't.

Thats what everybody says.

Thats why I can't sell them.

Maybe you shouldn't paint places.

Why don't you paint people instead ?

Cecily Browns too much

full of pictures of people.

- Who's Cecily Brown ?

- She is my best friend.

I go to school everyday now,

but only in the mornings.

What do you learn ?

Well, yesterday we learnt about Kaiser.

He is the king of Germany.

He was a long time ago.

You are wrong.

Cecily Brown's father is in Germany

now, he sees him all the time.

He says the Kaiser rides around in a white horse

and he likes to fight.

I can fight too.

I can fight Cecily.

She is bigger but I'm stronger.

I can fight a girl.

But you said Cecily Brown

is your best friend.

She is.

Its funny to have someone to play with.

Don't you know anybody to play with ?


Well, I'm afraid I have to go now.

Well its little lot I told you about myself.

So I will walk away with you,

if you don't mind.

I know a song.

Would you like to hear it ?

I love to.

Where I come from



And where I am going

everything nows

When wind blows

when it snows

Nobody knows

And where I am going



- Who taught you that ?

- Nobody, Its just a song.

- Do you know the game I like to play best ?

- Whatta?

Its a wishing game.

- I'll tell you what I wish most.

- What do you wish ?

You first have to close your eyes

and turn around three times.

I wish that you will wait for me to grow up

so that we can always be together.

Did you know what I guessed.

Well...I can't talk anymore. Good bye.

- I'll get your parcel.

- Oh! Thank you.

Funny kind of a kid.


- Is that you, Mr. Adams ?

- Yes Mrs. Jekes.

You are always coming so extremely quiet,

I can hardly hear you Mr. Adams.

- So thoughtful of my other tenants.

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Paul Osborn

Paul Osborn (September 4, 1901 – May 12, 1988) was an American playwright and screenwriter. Osborn's notable original plays are The Vinegar Tree, Oliver Oliver, and Morning's at Seven and among his several successful adaptations, On Borrowed Time has proved particularly popular. Counted among his best-known screenplays would be the adaptation of John Steinbeck's East of Eden and Wild River for his friend Elia Kazan, South Pacific and Sayonara directed by Joshua Logan, as well as Madame Curie, The Yearling, and Portrait of Jennie. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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