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Pandora & the Flying Dutchman

4.4 out of 5 stars 85 customer reviews

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(May 23, 2000)
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Editorial Reviews

There are few films that can be acclaimed as truly mad, but Pandora and the Flying Dutchman stands rather wonderfully in this category. Its combination of lust and erudition is inspired by mythology but seems peopled by characters from some hybrid novel co-authored by Somerset Maugham and Ernest Hemingway. Pandora Reynolds (Ava Gardner) is a singer in a coastal town in Spain, where her hobby is attracting the devoted love of powerful men made helpless in her presence. (A race-car driver blithely pushes his one-of-a-kind vehicle over a cliff, just to earn her trust.) While fending off other suitors, including a bullfighter, she becomes intrigued by the mystery man (James Mason) whose yacht is moored offshore. Since he is Dutch, perhaps he is related to the mythical, immortal Flying Dutchman? Don't think it can't happen in this overheated affair. Gardner and Mason are not at their best (she looks ultra-glamorous, of course), but their movie-star wattage is high. The real star is the Technicolor cinematography by the great Jack Cardiff (The Red Shoes); the throbbing colors are just right for the unreal scenario playing out before us. Writer-director Albert Lewin, probably best known for his Picture of Dorian Gray, had a literary bent, and in this movie that means people are constantly planting their feet and reciting snippets of poetry toward the moonlit sea. Somehow this fits in perfectly with the rest of the delirium. --Robert Horton

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: James Mason, Ava Gardner, Nigel Patrick, Sheila Sim, Harold Warrender
  • Directors: Albert Lewin
  • Writers: Albert Lewin
  • Producers: Albert Lewin, Joe Kaufmann, John Woolf
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Kino Video
  • DVD Release Date: May 23, 2000
  • Run Time: 122 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305848750
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #143,487 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Pandora & the Flying Dutchman" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Kara Russell VINE VOICE on January 31, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is one of a handful of films from this period of saturated color and the gorgeous cinematography of Jack Cardiff. Many of these films incorporate within their story and script elements of literature, art, mystery and timeless love that transcends death. This one delivers all.

Ava Gardner's character is beautiful and untouchable in this film, her heart is as cold as the statues she caresses, her attention as bloodthirsty as the bullfights of her ex-lover... one of many we discover. Her requirements of a lover are that she be given all, and of course, no one can deliver. The story begins in one of these trite vacation atmospheres - playground of the very rich dilletantes. We are told she was a singer - not a very good one by her own admission. We are treated to Gardner's real singing voice, which is not cultured, but unique and husky (too bad they didn't let her sing all her own stuff in SHOWBOAT - it's the right voice for that character). She seems to get by on her beauty, which is immense, and her capriciousness. She is not particularly likable, but she doesn't pretend to be better than she is, and that is interesting. Then a mysterious boat appears, with a sad handsome man who is working on a painting of Pandora... which bears a resemblance to her.

At this point the movie moves from the mundane into the magical, with tormented love at its most operetic. This movie was an artistic enterprise, with high emotions, high risk. If F.Scott Fitzgerald's characters interbred with Greek mythology, this is the child they would create. It has some faint awkward moments of voiceover and explanation, but it is magical in it's look, and moreover, it is, like many other Jack Cardiff films, simply one-of-a-kind. The perfect rainy day movie. Very watchable.
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Format: DVD
than the first time I saw it. The new remastered DVD is awesomely clear, color crisp and Ava G as always beautiful.
And Leonard Maltin, you said: "Sorry to say, a big Technicolor bore, one of writer-director Lewin's misfires, about a woman who destroys the lives of all the men around her; then mystical, otherworldly Mason materializes." ... aside from that did you like it? LOL.
Not boring, yes about a selfish lady who finds a reason to not be selfish. geeeeee what a concept.
Seriously, if you like mystical possibilities, beautiful women, and scenery... buy this, you'll like it.
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Format: Blu-ray
Ava Gardner is absolute ravishing as the character of Pandora, the object of men's desires and a woman who is searching for the meaning of her own life, until she meets a man named Hendrik, a man who may be the answer that she has been looking for.

To describe the 1951 film "Pandora and the Flying Dutchman" may be a little difficult. It's definitely a dramatic film, a love story but with a twist of fantasy mixed into it. The film was definitely uncharacteristic for a film released during its time. But by saying that, I don't want to dismiss this film as fantasy kitsch, nor do I want to portray Ava Gardner as the ultimate sex kitten and that is why this film should be watched. "Pandora and the Flying Dutchman" is much more than that. It's a magical film in which characters encounter fate, destiny, tragedy and focuses on a unique love shared by two individuals.

"Pandora and the Flying Dutchman" is written and directed by Albert Lewin ("The Picture of Dorian Gray", "Saadia", "The Living Idol") and stars James Mason ("Heaven Can Wait", "Lolita", "A Star is Born", "Georgy Girl", "The Verdict"), Ava Gardner ("Mogambo", "The Night of the Iguana", "On the Beach"), Nigel Patrick ("The League of Gentleman", "Raintree Country", "Breaking the Sound Barrier") and Harold Warrender ("Ivanhoe", "Conspirator", "Time Bomb").


"Pandora and the Flying Dutchman" is presented in 1080p (1920 x 1080p). It's important to note that this film is 60-years-old and prior to watching this Blu-ray release, I have had the movie on DVD from KINO courtesy of their "Glamour Girls" DVD box set.

The original picture quality of this film was very dark and even murky, showing its age. The Blu-ray release is a major step forward in the restoration of this film.
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Format: VHS Tape
This movie is a very deep and philosophical story of the Flying Dutchman. A man doomed to roam the seven seas for eternity unless he meets someone who loves him enough to die for him. There are wonderful quotations from 'Dover Beach' and 'Omar Khayyam' which say so much. If you want an escape from reality and enjoy well made movies with deep characters then this is THE movie. One of James Mason's great performances, in my opinion, and a great performance by Ava Gardner. Nothing wooden about it!!
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
PANDORA AND THE FLYING DUTCHMAN is one of my mother's favorite films. She has always told us how she and her friends sat at repeated showings of the film when it was first released, mesmerized by Ava Gardner's beauty and by the film's romantic atmosphere. I saw it in Paris when it was rereleased in the early 80's and was totally involved in the experience of seeing PANDORA. Took my friends to see it (GILDA and LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN were playing around the same time, all three in fine prints, so we were treated to a true festival of Hollywood late 40's/early 50's glamour, with three of film history's most beautiful women gracing the screen: Gardner, Hayworth, Tierney) and they were equally impressed. PANDORA is in the fantasy tradition of PORTRAIT OF JENNIE, THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR, SOMEWHERE IN TIME and some other films. I particularly like the genre, especially when it is treated in such a delicate, charming way. The cinematography by Jack Cardiff is breathtaking, extracting great effect from the film's location at beautiful Tossa del Mar, on Spain's Costa Brava. Ava Gardner was a real screen goddess and stood above all parameters for judging actor's at work. Like Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Rita Hayworth, Elizabeth Taylor, Gina Lollobrigida, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and very few others, she just had TO BE, she didn't need TO ACT. I treasure this film and encourage people to see it always that I meet someone who is able to enjoy it. A classic.
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