Wednesday, August 28, 2013

236. Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951)

Running Time: 122 minutes
Directed By: Albert Lewin
Written By: Albert Lewin
Main Cast: Ava Gardner, James Mason, Nigel Patrick, Harold Warrender, Sheila Sim
Click here to view the trailer


Noticing that "Pandora and the Flying Dutchman" was one of the many films that Netflix lists as "SAVED", meaning that it's more than likely out of print, I skimmed through the TCM listings many, many months ago and discovered that this was to air and thinking ahead, recorded it. The VHS tape (yep, still using those) has been sitting on a shelf since then, waiting for me.

The plot, to my surprise, was very similar to "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir", in that a woman falls in love with a ghost. This time, the woman is Pandora Reynolds (Gardner), the object of many men's deisres, yet she isn't interested in any of her suitors and really only keeps them around for her own amusement. The suitor with the most brownie points is Stephen (Patrick), a race car enthusiast, who is in the process of building a car, in which he'll attempt to break the land-speed record. The film focuses on what one is prepared to give up for the one they love. Stephen, for example, pushes his prized, hand built speed racer over a cliff, simply because Pandora asks him to; wondering if he'll actually do it. Then one day, Pandora meets Hendrick van der Zee (Mason), when she wanders onto an anchored sea vessel; finding the ship's captain (van der Zee) painting a portrait of, what seems to be Pandora. The two become chummy, with Pandora not realizing that van der Zee is the Flying Dutchman. From there, we learn the legend of the flying dutchman, in which the dutchman in question is condemned to sail the seas for eternity, unless he can find a woman who loves him enough to die for him - again returning to the "what are you prepared to give up for your lover" theme. There's also a matador who is also infatuated with Pandora, yet meanwhile, Pandora and Stephen are engaged to be married. That's the gist of it - a big, love triangle/quadrangle.

It's easy to surmise that, with the exception of "Winchester '73", I have been less than impressed with the current handful of 50s flicks. "Rio Grande" was, without a doubt, the worst film I saw this season, thus far; "Los Olvidados" was far inferior to later Bunuel works; "All About Eve" was just shy of being really, really good and now "Pandora and the Flying Dutchman" which I'd put at about the average marker. Let me first say how much I've come to really appreciate James Mason since starting this project. He's been in quite a few of the "1001" movies and he's just a treat to watch, as he's an absolute professional, never acting, but rather becoming his role, no matter how goofy the script - like this one. I'd say "Bigger Than Life" has been my favorite of his thus far, but I think "The Reckless Moment" and "Lolita" will need to be rewatched someday, in light of my new found appreciation for this master actor. I also want to take the time to praise Jack Cardiff, who's cinematography on "Pandora and the Flying Dutchman" made this movie elevate above the level of "clock watcher" and despite it's flaws, at least it was a terrific LOOKING picture; filled with magnificent, sometimes gloomy shots that dazzled the eye!

Otherwise, this was just goofy to me. It wasn't necessarily a period piece (except for the middle part, when recounting the legend of the Flying Dutchman), but it just felt like it was meant for a different generation, other than my own. I think I established during my "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" review that I'm not into the whole woman falls in love with a celestial being storyline and despite the wonderful camerwork, the beautiful Gardner and the master Mason, this one just didn't appeal to me in the slightest. Speaking of Gardner, I'm of the opinion that she's more suited to be wearing black gloves that go to her elbows; silky, black dresses and a string of pearls, giving "tough guy" gangsters a run for their money. In other words, she belongs in the confines of film nor, not in silly ghost ship tales.

RATING: 5/10  Slice it right down the middle. The majority of this season is going to be comprised of films from the 50s and 90s (split equally). I really hope some of the 50s movies can win me over, because I really don't want a TOP 20 list comprised exclusively of 90s flicks. That being said, I'll be glad to hop back to the back side of the "1001" book for a five film stretch.


The English Patient (1996 - Anthony Minghella)
Lone Star (1996 - John Sayles)
Gabbeh (1996 - Mohsen Makhmalbaf)
Independence Day (1996 - Roland Emmerich)
Breaking the Waves (1996 - Lars von Trier)


SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #66: La piscine/The Swimming Pool (1969)

Running Time: 120 minutes Directed By: Jacques Deray Written By: Jean-Claude Carriere, Jacques Deray, Alain Page Main Cast: Alain Del...