Pandora and the Flying Dutchman

PandoraFlyingDutchmanSuggested by Brad Nelson • Ava Gardner is the siren of a small Spanish town, the type of woman men kill and die for. She’s never fallen for anyone until the arrival of the mysterious James Mason, the actual Flying Dutchman, condemned to sail the seas until he finds a woman who would die for him.
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2 Responses to Pandora and the Flying Dutchman

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Despite an almost total lack of plausible build-up to the kind of romance a woman would die for, this star-studded movie works on the level of a nostalgic old drama.

    And you get a look inside the Hollywood mill. Clearly Ava Gardner cannot act, at least in this film. Her lines are spoken flat as if this were a mere read-through. No matter, much like today’s music industry where they can always synthesize the voice as long as they have a pretty mug to put on the album cover, Gardner’s physical beauty is her talent.

    Three years later James Mason would play this Captain Nemo-like character for real. He plays it here now as the Flying Dutchman, cursed for past sins (which we learn about in a flashback). This movie is classic Hollywood kitsch, complete with the Spanish bullfighter.

    Nigel Patrick shines in an otherwise stereotypical character-set as the fiancé of Gardner. He’s a playboy-like race car driver, but otherwise seems a good, polite, and honest chap…which means he’s potentially grist for the mill of the femme fatale, Gardner. I saw Patrick recently in the quite interesting 1960 The League of Gentlemen, a movie I certainly do recommend.

    The freshly-flowing story of “Pandora” is charming and light (though not short at 122 minutes). It’s easy enough to get lost in temporarily. But this movie requires first that you are a James Mason fan, which I am. There’s not a lot of nuance here, it’s just wall-to-wall weighty Mason who could say “Please pass the butter” and make it sound like a curse.

    The visually rich Mediterranean scenery is the other star. And the script is sometimes filled with wedged-in literary quotes. But the moving Gardner, having writ, still sleeps on (and around…particularly with bullfighters, I hear).

    • Timothy Lane says:

      This notion of an actor playing a character more than once leads to another interesting example. In The Last Starfighter, Robert Preston played an alien recruiter who might as well have been Professor Harold hill. (And note that Nemo means “nobody” in Latin. Philip José Farmer had an interesting take on Nemo in The Other Log of Phileas Fogg, which was itself inspired by a BSI article.)

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