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Life, Death, and Technicolor: A Tribute to Jack Cardiff

Sunday, April 11, 2010
5:15 p.m. Pandora and the Flying Dutchman
Albert Lewin (U.S., 1951)

Restored Print

Writer/producer/director Albert Lewin takes the legend of a Dutch ghost ship doomed to roam the seas and brings it to shore in decadent twentieth-century Europe. Set in the Spanish Mediterranean, this romantic drama provides Cardiff with some of his most spectacular visuals: sun-dappled ruins, moonlit beaches, and the almost unreal beauty of Ava Gardner. Gardner plays a woman of mythic desirability and humorously humble origins: Pandora . . . Reynolds, from Indiana. Lusted after by every man in the seaside town of Esperanza, Pandora is a nightclub singer unfazed by the trail of broken hearts that follows her. When a ship anchors in a nearby cove, she feels an uncontrollable pull toward it and the mysterious and charming Dutch sailor (James Mason) aboard it. Their meeting sets off a series of events—dangerous car races, poetic bullfights, twilight rendezvous—that Cardiff captures in breathtaking color. Newly restored, this is “the supreme encounter between Surrealism and Hollywood” (Jonathan Rosenbaum).

—Jonathan L. Knapp

• Written by Lewin. Photographed by Jack Cardiff. With James Mason, Ava Gardner, Nigel Patrick, Sheila Sim. (120 mins, Color, 35mm, From Douris Corporation)