Flick Review < Portrait of Jennie | William Dieterle, 1948

Portrait of Jennie | William Dieterle, 1948
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The portrait of Jennie supposedly painted by Joseph Cotten’s character, Eben Adams, was in reality created by noted portrait artist Robert Brackman. Jennifer Jones came in for more than a dozen sittings in Brackman’s Connecticut studio. Actually, Robert Brackman was obliged to paint, not only one, but two versions as the first one, described as “lush” and “opulent” by the artist, was scrapped after script changes necessitated a completely new and more simple one.  A black-and-white photo of the first version can be seen in one of the books on Brackman. The painting was a prized possession of producer Selznick and  hung in his home from 1946 until his death.
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Portrait of Jennie (1948)
Director: William Dieterle
Writers: Robert Nathan (book), Paul Osborn, Peter Berneis (screen play)
Cinematography:Joseph H. August
Stars: Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, Ethel Barrymore, Lillian Gish
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William Dieterle, Portrait of Jennie, 1948
The quotation from Euripides during the opening narration – “Who knoweth if to die be but to live … and that called life by mortals be but death ?” (also translated elsewhere as “Who knows but life be that which men call death and death what men call life?”) – is from fragment 830 of Phrixus, a lost play.
Aristophanes also used a similar statement in “The Frogs”: “Who knows if death be life,
and life be death, And breath be mutton broth, and sleep a sheepskin?”
“Where I come from, nobody knows
And where I am going, everything goes
The wind blows, the sea flows
Nobody knows
And where I am going
Nobody knows.”
Poem by Robert Nathan, Portrait of Jennie, 1940
The Damned – The Portrait, 1986
The extended version of “The Portrait” contained a sample of the Bernard  Herrmann-penned untitled theme song from the film Portrait of Jennie (1948)

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