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A Spanish temptress falls for a haunted ship's captain.
In 1930, in the Spanish coastal town of Esperanza, fishermen discover the bodies of a drowned man and woman. As townspeople gather on the beach, Englishman Geoffrey Fielding recalls events from the past six months: In early March, Geoff finds an old Dutch manuscript on the legend of the Flying Dutchman. That same night, Geoff joins an international group of friends in a local tavern where Reggie Demarest is celebrating the first anniversary of his meeting singer Pandora Reynolds. American ex-patriot Pandora is fond of the brooding Reggie, but he is obsessed with her and poisons himself in the restaurant. English race car driver Stephen Cameron, with whom Pandora has been having an affair, expresses guilt when Reggie collapses, but Pandora coolly walks away, assuring Stephen that only she is to blame. Some of Reggie's friends think that Pandora is heartless, but Geoff knows she is not. Several days later, he encourages Stephen to take Pandora for a drive in his racing car, to the irritation of Geoff's niece, Janet, who is in love with Stephen. When the couple stop to admire the view, they see a schooner offshore and Stephen jokingly says it reminds him of the Flying Dutchman. Pandora tells Stephen to marry Janet, but when he insists that he loves her, she promises to marry him if he will push his car, his most precious possession, off the cliff. Stephen does so, and Pandora says that she will marry him in six months. Later, upon hearing what happened, Geoff philosophically says that love is only worth what one is willing to give up for it and answers Pandora's questions about the Flying Dutchman. He explains that, in the legend, the Dutchman was condemned to sail the earth eternally. While Geoff and Stephen are talking, Pandora wanders away, removes her clothes and swims nude to the schooner. Once onboard, Pandora wraps herself in a canvas sail and approaches the salon, where a man is painting. The man, who is Dutch, introduces himself as Hendrick van der Zee and is amused when Pandora reveals her name, as he is painting a portrait of the mythical Pandora. Pandora is startled that the woman in the painting looks like her, and feeling inadequate, tries to ruin it. Just then, Stephen and Geoff call out from a motorboat and Pandora leaves with them, after making Hendrick promise to dine with them the following night. Soon, Hendrick moves into a villa on shore and becomes part of Pandora's circle. One evening, in late August, Hendrick stops by to see Geoff's manuscript, which he has promised to help translate. Geoff is stunned when Hendrick seems to stop reading the manuscript and recites it, as if from memory: In the 17th century, a wealthy captain returns home from a voyage, eager to see his beautiful, young wife. Gazing upon his sleeping wife, the captain is certain that she has been unfaithful and kills her with his knife. When he is convicted of murder, the captain lashes out and tells the judge that he could sail for eternity and never find a faithful woman. The night before his execution, the captain awakens and finds the door of his cell open. He easily escapes and goes to his ship, which the crew is preparing to sail. Falling asleep in his quarters, the captain has a dream in which a voice tells him that his wife was never unfaithful. When he awakens, the crew is gone and the captain realizes that in the courtroom he pronounced his own sentence, to sail for eternity, landing every seven years for six months to see if he can find a woman who will sacrifice her own life for his. By the end of the story, Geoff knows that Hendrick is the Dutchman of the legend and that his friend Pandora is the woman. Just then, Pandora stops by and says that she will be married on the 3rd of September. Hendrick replies that he must set sail on that day and cannot attend. A short time later, Juan Montalvo, Spain's greatest matador, returns to Esperanza, where he was born. Juan had once been Pandora's lover and tries to impress her and Hendrick with his prowess at a private, midnight bullfight. Juan then takes Pandora to the house of his mother, a gypsy who warns Juan to stop seeing Pandora and his foreign friends. The next day, Stephen breaks the land speed record in a daring race, and the town celebrates. At dinner, Janet drunkenly accuses Stephen of being a fool and slaps Pandora. When Janet runs off, crying, Pandora tells Stephen to go after her. The partygoers then go to the beach and Pandora and Hendrick wander off alone and kiss. They are observed by Juan, who becomes enraged when he hears Pandora speak of the deep love she now feels for Hendrick. The tender moment is shattered when Hendrick claims he is disgusted by her flirtation and leaves. As her wedding day approaches, Pandora confides in Geoff, who knows the sacrifice Hendrick is making, but says nothing. A week before the wedding, Juan goes to Pandora to propose, but is so aggressive that Pandora warns him not to solve his problems with violence. Stung, Juan tells her that she will never marry Stephen because she loves "the other one," who does not love her. That night, when Hendrick returns to his villa, Juan is hiding and throws a knife into his back, apparently killing him, then kills the little dog that Pandora had given Hendrick. As soon as Juan leaves, Hendrick awakens and bitterly prays to die so that Pandora can live. Just then, she arrives, worried for his safety after dreaming that he would be killed. The next day, at a bullfight, when Juan goes in for the kill, he sees Hendrick sitting next to Pandora and is so stunned that he is repeatedly gored. Pandora goes to the dying Juan, who confesses that he killed Hendrick and believes that God has punished him. On the night of Stephen's bachelor dinner, Pandora visits Geoff, who she suspects knows the truth about Hendrick. Geoff, who has been looking through his telescope at the schooner, has seen the ship making itself ready to sail. Pandora tells Geoff about Juan's confession and she says that she will die if she does not see Hendrick again. Thinking that it is now too late for her to stop Hendrick from sailing, Geoff gives her a translation of the manuscript and leaves her alone. After reading the tale, Pandora immediately swims out to the schooner, where she and Hendrick reveal their love. As a violent storm erupts, Pandora assures Hendrick that she is not frightened. Back on shore, Geoff still ponders all that has happened as Janet comforts Stephen.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||New York premiere: 6 Dec 1951; Los Angeles opening: 11 Jan 1952|
|Release Date:||1952||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Color (Technicolor)||Distributions Co:||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Dorkay Productions, Inc., Romulus Films, Ltd.|
|Duration(mins):||120 or 123||Country:||Great Britain and United States|
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Jack Cardiff at his best
I love this films visual quality created by the great Jack Cardiff. Ava Gardner and James Mason are both so beautiful in this film. Very romantic and...
This is a very romantic film. Others extol the beauty of Ava Gardner but what about the handsome James Mason? And, what about the costuming? Ms. Gardner...
Pandora & the Flying Dutchman
Dashiell Barnes 2012-08-28
This romantic-fantasy is intriguing, but too slowly-paced to appreciate. Beautiful Gardner, a woman who ruins men around her, is attracted to brooding...