Portrait of Jennie (1948) ****
The essence of Hollywood at its most uninhibited, self-assured, and perfect, of its every asset and its every excess; the most dazzling, absurd, delirious, intense and beautiful product ever of its golden age, when transcendence was achieved so simply they took it for cheap sentiment. None of this makes sense, and all of it distills emotion with the knowing mass-appeal of a Hallmark card. But was there ever a film more haunting, beautiful to look at, and moving, despite your every fibre screaming that it is sheer manipulative gibberish...? Jennifer Jones, unconvincing but mesmerising, Ethel Barrymore, charm distilled, the great David Wayne, and Cecil Kellaway, the plain-clothes Santa. The visual texture. The music. That finale. That strange song... 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... There has never been another film quite like it.