PANDORA AND THE FLYING DUTCHMAN (1951) C 122m dir: Albert Lewin
w/James Mason, Ava Gardner, Nigel Patrick, Sheila Sim, Harold Warrender, Mario Cabré, Pamela Mason, Marius Goring, John Laurie, Abraham Sofaer
From the Turner Classic Movies website, tcm.com, this article about the film by Jeff Stafford: "For many years, Albert Lewin's haunting romantic fantasy Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951) has been an elusive film, one that rarely turns up at repertory screenings or on cable television or video. Luckily, Kino Lorber has recently restored it and one can once again enjoy this handsomely mounted tale of doomed love and spiritual salvation. Based on the famous legend which also inspired the opera Der fliegende Hollander by Richard Wagner, Lewin's film updates the tragic storyline from the 17th century to a small coastal village in Spain in the 1930s. It is there that a beautiful American sophisticate (Ava Gardner), pursued by many men, becomes obsessed with a mysterious sea captain (James Mason) who has recently dropped anchor in her harbor.
"Shot on location in the charming seaside town of Tossa del Mar on the Costa Brava in Spain, Pandora and the Flying Dutchman is renown for its stunning Technicolor cinematography by Jack Cardiff and the rich production design by John Bryan. In her autobiography, Ava Gardner recalled the making of the film, writing, 'The man who concocted this supernatural romance was one of Hollywood's more curious writer-directors, Albert Lewin...He knew that this particular tale was much too noncommercial for MGM, so he left the studio to do it, asking that they loan me out to him as settlement of his contract...Al was famous, if that is the right word, for asking for an ungodly number of retakes. One story had it that on The Picture of Dorian Gray ... he asked for one hundred and ten retakes and ended up using number four. He used the same technique on this picture, and one day I had to say to him, "Al, do you think I could go to the bathroom after the eighty-first take?" Ms. Gardner also had some choice comments about her co-star, toreador-turned-actor Mario Cabré, stating he 'played Juan Montalvo, my bullfighter lover, in the picture, and his ambition was to continue the role in real life. Unfortunately, Mario got carried away confusing his onstage and offstage roles.' In spite of numerous on-set frustrations, however, Gardner gives one of her best performances in Pandora and the Flying Dutchman and has rarely looked this beautiful on screen.
"It is true that Pandora and the Flying Dutchman was not a commercial success when it was first released; audiences were mostly baffled by the film's strange mix of romance and fantasy but its reputation has grown steadily since that time. TimeOut critic Richard Rayner wrote 'Lewin combines a script of exuberant literacy with a visual splendour often bordering on the surreal. Mason is his usual impeccable self, while Gardner is gloriously believable as a woman for whom any man would be prepared to suffer eternal damnation. Occasionally absurd, always bold, the film tells a lushly romantic story so skillfully that it possesses the inevitability of myth.'"