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Review: Pandora and the Flying Dutchman

1951 melodrama fails to convince
By GERALD PEARY  |  December 2, 2009
2.0 2.0 Stars


In this soupy 1951 romantic melodrama, Ava Gardner plays Pandora, a self-loathing vixen who toys with the affections of sundry panting males — a British race-car driver, a Spanish matador, etc. — while waiting without hope for her real love to appear. Might that be the mysterious Dutchman (James Mason) who arrives one day on his yacht?

The Spanish oceanside settings are most appealing, and so is the painterly palette of Jack Cardiff's exquisite cinematography. But writer/director Albert Lewin’s pseudo–Somerset Maugham story is pretentious and unconvincing, descending into fantasy hokum involving sailor ghosts and a cursed protagonist who’s been undead since the 16th century.

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