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Review Requested: Portrait of Jennie (1948)

Old 11-25-00, 12:15 PM
  #1  
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Has anyone received this Anchor Bay release yet? Until Tuesday, it is available on preorder from Buy for $9.45. Any details on the quality of the transfer would be greatly appreciated.

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"The important thing for a star is to have an interesting face. He doesn't have to move it very much. Editing and camerawork can always produce the desired illusion that a performance is being given." --George Sanders.
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Old 11-25-00, 10:00 PM
  #2  
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Here you go Sykes, courtesy of DVDSavant:

Anchor Bay's DVD presentation is terrific. In the 1980s a laserdisc was announced and abruptly cancelled, for a lack of decent source materials. Savant's VHS from the old Z Channel indeed had an annoying soundtrack buzz through an entire three reels. The picture here really pops. In the spirit of its original presentation, Anchor Bay has retained the tinting of the final reel, which plays in a ghostly green, and a breathtaking ending color view of the eponymous portrait in a museum being admired by a pre-teen Anne Francis (now there's a bit of romance out-of-time to ponder). What nobody can replicate is the wonder of Magnavision, a special 'process' for the film's premiere. Selznick prepared a giant masked screen, and the movie showed normally until the lightning bolt that initiates the green-tinted storm. Then the screen masking receded and a zoom lens on the projector enlarged the screen just for the special effects finale. Coming five years before CinemaScope, this William Castle-like idea wasn't very practical for ordinary distribution.

I highly recommend this movie, it is one of my all time favourites and makes an excellent "across the decades" double bill with the equally affecting Somewhere in Time.

At this price (MSRP $14.99) it is an absolute steal. Go here for a review of one of the other Selznick pictures due for release along with Portrait of Jennie.

Anchor Bay really are becoming the company to beat, especially with the mouth-watering list of movies up for release next year.
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Old 11-25-00, 10:52 PM
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Thanks, jonathan.e! I'll be submitting my order ASAP!

And BTW, the $9.45 is from 800.com, where the shipping is less than $2. As jonathan.e says, a great movie at a steal of a price!

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"The important thing for a star is to have an interesting face. He doesn't have to move it very much. Editing and camerawork can always produce the desired illusion that a performance is being given." --George Sanders.

[This message has been edited by Sykes (edited November 25, 2000).]
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Old 11-30-00, 12:05 AM
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Haven't received my copy yet ( ), but here's some further input on the disc's quality for any other possible fans of the film out there (anyone? anyone? ).

http://www.hometheaterforum.com/uub/...ML/020874.html

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"The important thing for a star is to have an interesting face. He doesn't have to move it very much. Editing and camerawork can always produce the desired illusion that a performance is being given." --George Sanders.
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Old 11-30-00, 10:50 AM
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I think itís just you and me, Sykes. Kinda thought classicman wouldíve been part of the audience for this great movie.

Should have my copy in a few days and Iíll post my thoughts here.
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Old 11-30-00, 09:15 PM
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Received my $11.40 copy not three hours ago , and it looks great! If you happened to catch the airing of this enchanting semi-classic on AMC early this morning, you will be stunned at the superiority of Anchor Bay's transfer. Jospeh August's dazzling, Oscar-nominated cinematography hasn't looked this good, according to sources, in at least probably several decades.

As soon as I have the chance to view it all the way through, I will post my impressions here.

jonathan.e, someone else mentioned their weakness for this title in this thread in the Talk forum, so we're not alone!

[Good to also see another sensational film, Odd Man Out, mentioned by someone other that Gamblor187 and myself, too! ]

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"The important thing for a star is to have an interesting face. He doesn't have to move it very much. Editing and camerawork can always produce the desired illusion that a performance is being given." --George Sanders.
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Old 12-01-00, 07:30 AM
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Hmmmm....I may have to order my copy today!!!

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Old 12-01-00, 03:16 PM
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After reading the comments at the HTF, I think this sounds like a perfect complement to The Picture of Dorian Gray (from 1946?). Wonderful movie, one of my all time favorites and I'd love to see Anchor Bay release it next I think I'll have to order this one too since I've not seen it or even heard of it before.

Michael

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Old 12-05-00, 01:30 AM
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Just got through watching "Portrait". The picture and sound are better than I had hoped for. A real surprise was the tinted last reel and the color portrait. Highly recommended. If you like this film, pick up "Garden of Allah". I can't imagine a technicolor print shown on the big screen to look much better than this. I think this was the only color film Dietrich did in her prime. A beautiful disc.
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Old 12-05-00, 07:26 AM
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Received my copy yesterday....will be viewing soon so I will check back and share my thoughts!!!

Just finished viewing Friendly Persuasion last evening!! Transfer was very good...some parts stumbled a bit but I believe this is due to the age of the film!!!

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Old 12-05-00, 01:08 PM
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I'll add my recommendation here. A real steal
of a disc. I waited for years for this to
make it to laserdisc and it never did. This
was supposedly a valentine from the producer
to Jennifer Jones, she and Selznick were married during the filming. It does suffer somewhat from Selznick's usual over production and micro management but still one
of his best.
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Old 12-06-00, 07:43 PM
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* * * Portrait of Jennie * * *




One thing that legendary Hollywood producer David O. Selznick seemed to lack was any sense of continuity or dramatic concept. For Gone With the Wind, he was fortunate to have had the contribution of W.C. Menzies, or the film might have become a hopelessly incoherent mess; Selznick was too busy on GWTW to interfere much with Prisoner of Zenda; Rebecca was his last project before he became deluded with the obsession to try to outdo GWTW; the folly of Duel in the Sun has been well documented. And his final effort, A Farewell to Arms, starring Rock Hudson and then-wife Jennifer Jones, is his most manifestly demonstrated fiasco.

But if there was one thing for which Selznick had an impeccable instinct for was in creating beauty on the big screen. Zenda, Rebecca, Spellbound; and particularly GWTW and Duel contain some of the cinema screen's most devastatingly beautiful moments in production design, cinematography, and music.

This enchanting romance-fantasy is no exception. While Selznick may be faulted for heedlessly (and predictably) emptying his pockets in service of another vehicle promoting his movie-star wife, in Portrait of Jennie his extravagance is, IMO, fully justified by the results. Although the story remains throughout as impenetrable and pretentious as the voice-over prologue that opens the film, Portrait of Jennie showcases some of the most magical, stunning moments in the cinema.

Reteaming the superbly successful director-cinematographer team of William Dieterle and Joseph August (The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Devil & Daniel Webster), Jennie is a visual and aural feast throughout. Probably the most beautiful film ever (partially) photographed on-location in New York City, August's black-and-white images are among the most exquisite and unforgettable to ever grace the screen (one of my "10 Best Photographed Films Ever"--an expired thread ). Just about every form of chiaroscuro is sampled in this film--many shots are, in fact, photographed through screens to provide an illusion of grayscale paintings. Despite certain intrusions by Selznick, it is distinguished German emigree Dieterle who brings to the production its impeccable professionalism, firm sense of direction, and dramatic impetus--providing what Selznick himself could not with Duel and Farewell.

This, teamed with the entrancing lead duo of Joseph Cotten and Jennifer Jones (who, to this reviewer's mind, contribute their finest moments on the screen); the solid support of Ethel Barrymore, Cecil Kellaway, and David Wayne; and the cinematic pyrotechnics on display in the finale storm sequence (1948 AA for SPFX), help us to forget memories of a plot that fails close scrutiny, and delusions of grandeur; and to become irresistably carried along with the mad passions. From an age in which most films that must pour emotion over the cracks in order to create a suspension of disbelief--and instead cop-out by spoofing themselves, Portrait of Jennie is a freshly invigorating and satisying film; which works because it was done so persuasively and audaciously, by a first-class team of cinematic professionals.

The god-send Anchor Bay DVD looks at least as good as Warner's more-expensive Maltese Falcon. Joseph August's wondrous, nitrate-stock image values cannot be done complete justice at this phase of the source materials' natural deterioration, but this digital transfer makes a pretty fair stab at it--certainly miles better than has been seen for several years. Images are practically razor-sharp, for the most part. Some shots are on the soft side, some extremely so; but most are due to the visual scheme employed by cinematographer. The expected tell-tale nicks and scratches are present, but almost never distracting. Only the slightest bit of shimmer is detected, and no edge enhancement seems to have been employed. The final tinted reels, and color portrait at the finale are very well rendered. Sound is, of course, monoaural, but is gratefully free of noise and hiss, and dialogue sounds natural throughout (it would be great, though, to one day hear Dimitri Tiomkin's lovely score--based upon themes of Debussy--remixed in stereo; as with the thundering tsunamis of the climaxing tempest!).

Like all Selznick projects, this one had a rather storied history, so supplement materials are missed (supposedly, this film was originally as lengthy as GWTW when first screened !). However, may I opine that the trailer is one of the best that I have seen from that era. And, most importantly, as the film is so enjoyable, the disc is a steal of a value!

[Go here to download a clip from Portrait of Jennie.]

BUY IT!

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"The important thing for a star is to have an interesting face. He doesn't have to move it very much. Editing and camerawork can always produce the desired illusion that a performance is being given." --George Sanders.

[This message has been edited by Sykes (edited December 07, 2000).]
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Old 12-07-00, 07:57 AM
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SPOILER ALERT!!!! *******************

Finished viewing my copy last evening.....I enjoyed the movie throughout!! I thought the ending could have been somewhat more reuniting in a sense of these two lovers!!! I assume with the finding of Jennie's scarf at the end by another that this signifies the fact Jennie was real and would continue to live on through this gentleman's paintings!!! Any opinions on this...??

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[This message has been edited by djones6746 (edited December 08, 2000).]
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Old 12-07-00, 03:01 PM
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quote:
Originally posted by djones6746:
Any opinions on this...??



Yes - SPOILER NEEDED!!!!!!

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Old 12-08-00, 07:25 AM
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quote:
Originally posted by jonathan.e:
Yes - SPOILER NEEDED!!!!!!





Spoiler alert inserted!!!



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Old 03-29-03, 12:40 AM
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What ever happened to this movie? I assume OOP, but it's not even available on Ebay except on video. I forgot about it until I saw a reference in the Ghost and Mrs. Muir review, now I really want it and can't even find it at an outrageous price (not that I'd pay an outrageous price, but I'm surprised it's so unavailable).
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Old 04-02-03, 03:36 AM
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No guarantee but found this through http://www.froogle.com

http://www.epier.com/stores/collecto...se/?item=27892
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Old 04-16-03, 10:05 PM
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Thanks, they show quantity 0 though, so probably not a good bet.

I have a copy ordered from DVD Box Office, but since I've heard nothing, and I ordered it the 4th, I doubt that's going to show up.

I also bid on one on ebay, but there's someone else bidding too, so that's probably not going to work out.
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