The George Eastman Museum has announced it will host a virtual discussion on the film Portrait of Jennie (William Dieterle, 1948) on Thursday, June 4 at 1 p.m. with members of its Moving Image Department. The museum’s 6th Nitrate Picture Show was originally scheduled to kick off with a screening of Portrait of Jennie on June 4, 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum made the decision to postpone the festival to June 3–6, 2021. In lieu of welcoming patrons to the Dryden Theatre next month, the museum is offering everyone a virtual experience to explore the film in a new way from home.
Portrait of Jennie (1948) is an average love story, starring Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotton, directed by William Dieterle and produced by David O. Selznick. It claims its rarity in the final reel, as the black-and-white film moves to a final three-strip Technicolor shot and the aspect ratio changes to reveal a wider image on screen.
“For most of its running time, Portrait of Jennie is an eerie and unusual love story typical of the chances filmmakers were taking in 1940s black-and-white cinema. But in the last reel, it passes through three color processes (two of which were obsolete) and a change in aspect ratio that was unheard of at the time,” said Jared Case, curator of film exhibitions, George Eastman Museum. “When we initially screened David O. Selznick’s personal print of the film in 2015, we were able to re-create the Magnascope effect that was used for the original showings in New York, Boston, and Los Angeles, as the screen opens up to reveal a wider image in the final reel. Without the ability to screen it at this year’s festival, we wanted to offer patrons a chance to take a deeper dive into what makes this film so special.”
VIRTUAL: Portrait of Jennie: The Rarest Cinematic Experience of All Time
Thursday, June 4 at 1 p.m.
Register via Zoom
Through this free webinar, Curator of Film Exhibitions Jared Case, Preservation Manager Anthony L’Abbate, and Chief Projectionist Spencer Christiano will talk about the film, Portrait of Jennie (1948), its technical peculiarities, how they fit in with cinema history, and how those aspects are re-created in a modern cinema. Christiano will stream live from the Dryden Theatre projection booth to demonstrate the techniques used to exhibit the film in a manner consistent with the filmmaker's artistic vision. With no Nitrate Picture Show this year, tune in and enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at what might have been—and will be again! Registration is required as spaces are limited.
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This is a critical time for museums across the globe. The George Eastman Museum encourages individuals to visit eastman.org/support, if you are able to contribute to the museum’s Annual Fund at this time. Donations of all amounts are appreciated. The unrestricted dollars that membership and annual fund gifts provide are essential to the museum's operations, and the exhibitions and public programs that bring our collections to life for our audiences. And as with all of our community's cultural organizations, these dollars have never been more critical.
About the George Eastman Museum
Founded in 1947, the George Eastman Museum is the world’s oldest photography museum and one of the largest film archives in the United States, located on the historic Rochester estate of entrepreneur and philanthropist George Eastman, the pioneer of popular photography. Its holdings comprise more than 450,000 photographs, 28,000 motion picture films, the world’s preeminent collection of photographic and cinematographic technology, one of the leading libraries of books related to photography and cinema, and extensive holdings of documents and other objects related to George Eastman. As a research and teaching institution, the Eastman Museum has an active publishing program and, through its two joint master’s degree programs with the University of Rochester, makes critical contributions to film preservation and to photographic preservation and collections management. For more information, visit eastman.org.