Blog Archives

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951) | Myth and melodrama collide in the dreamy Technicolor drama

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951)

American director Albert Lewin (The Picture of Dorian Gray) and legendary British cinematographer Jack Cardiff made a real oddity when they lensed 1951’s Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, which is being screened at the BFI Southbank on 3 and 13 January 2017 as part of the Martin Scorsese curates season.

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951)

The old legend of a loner doomed to sail the seas forever unless he’s redeemed by a woman’s love is transposed here to 1930s Spain, centering on Ava Gardner’s man-eating, destructive Pandora who becomes intrigued by the arrival of James Mason’s mysterious yachtsman, Hendrik.

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951)

Told through flashback after the bodies of Pandora and Hendrik are found washed ashore (that’s not a spoiler by the way), the melodrama soon unfolds to reveal that Hendrik is in fact the real Flying Dutchman, who has suffered centuries of anguish over killing his wife. The manipulative, yet irresistible Pandora, meanwhile, has enjoyed playing with her suitors but must now choose between the man she promised to marry or Mason’s tortured soul…

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951)

Highly reminiscent of those gloriously lush Powell-Pressburger films of the 1940s, Lewin’s stylish romance boasts Cardiff’s stunning Technicolor camerawork.

From Gardner’s gowns to the gorgeous Spanish coastline (shot in the Costa Brava resort of Tossa de Mar), this hallucinatory fable of love and death is well deserving of its  2010 restoration by George Eastman House.

It’s also a chance for classic film fans to see the alluring Gardner strut her stuff as the dreamy vixen, while a moody Mason chews the scenery in his distinctively clipped burgundy baritone.

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951)

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman screens at NFT3 on 3 January at 18:10 and 13 January at 20:40. Tickets go on sale from 13 December, click here.

The restored classic is also available in a 2010 dual format edition from Park Circus containing both DVD and Blu-ray versions, plus a range of extras – the highlight being a 1947 short on the death of famed Spanish bullfighter, Manolete (the inspiration behind Mario Cabré’s matador in the film).

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

The Night of the Hunter (1955) | Charles Laughton’s Southern Gothic masterpiece gets a stunning new restoration

The Night of the Hunter

‘Would you like me to tell you the little story of right-hand left-hand?’
In search of stolen loot, itinerant preacher Harry Powel (Robert Mitchum), who has the words ‘love’ and ‘hate’ tattooed on his knuckles, arrives in a small Southern town where he marries then murders his former cellmate’s wife Willa (Shelley Winters) before chasing her two young children down river. But standing in his way is a elderly woman (Lillian Gish) who is prepared to protect the frightened children at all costs…

Robert Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter

LAUGHTON’S SINISTER LOVE CHILD
Actor/director Charles Laughton’s child’s-eye-view 1955 adaptation of Davis Grubb’s 1953 Southern Gothic novel is unique among Hollywood’s golden age of films as its expressionistic style sets it apart from the kind of movies being made in the 1950s, and this is all down to Laughton’s surrealist sets and stylised dialogue and cinematographer Stanley Cortez‘s luminous monochrome camerawork, that brilliantly evoke the silent film masterpieces of FW Murnau (of Nosferatu fame) and DW Griffith (the casting of Griffith’s muse Lillian Gish is a knowing nod).

Lilian Gish in The Night of the Hunter

The film, however, was commercial and critical failure, which deeply depressed Laughton (he would never again take to the director’s chair), but it has since gone on to become a bona fide American cinema classic, garnering legions of fans and always topping best-ever film lists.

There’s also Robert Mitchum, who gives a career-best performance as Harry Powell – one of fiction’s greatest villains. His woman-hating corrupt reverend turned serial killer is truly terrifying and Mitchum plays him with a nonchalant charisma that’s totally Mitchum-esque, and this was best summed up when Laughton warned the film noir legend that the character he was to play was a ‘complete shit’, at which Mitchum famously replied: ‘Present’.

If you have never seen The Night of the Hunter, then the new restoration – which is now available to own on Blu-ray and returns to UK cinemas early next year – is the perfect way to rediscover Laughton’s dark fairytale and get spellbound by Mitchum’s powerhouse performance.

Robert Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter

THE ARROW ACADEMY RELEASE
The Blu-ray release features the 1955 film in its original aspect ratio (1.66:1) in a new digital transfer made from restored 35mm film elements, and includes a two-and-a-half-hour documentary on the making of the film featuring archive material give to the American Film Institute by Laughton’s widow Elsa Lanchester, an interview with cinematographer Stanley Cortez, isolated music and effects soundtrack, original theatrical trailer, reversible sleeve featuring original and new artwork by Graham Humphreys, and a collector’s booklet.

THE UK CINEMA RE-RELEASE
The new restoration of The Night of the Hunter is also back in cinemas from 17 January 2014, opening at BFI Southbank in London, as part of the continuing Gothic season, and selected cinemas nationwide, courtesy of Park Circus.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsTi9jdpIOM%5D
%d bloggers like this: