Pandora (Ava Gardner) is immediately set up as destructive and impulsive, getting the man who loves her (Nigel Patrick of The League of Gentlemen) to wreck his prize racecar in exchange for engagement. Her other suitors don’t take this well – Marius Goring (young lovestruck composer of The Red Shoes) kills himself, and a vain, famous matador gets jealous. All this depresses poor Sheila Sim (star of A Canterbury Tale), who always thought she’d marry the racer.
But none of it matters, because Flying Dutchman James Mason (two years after The Reckless Moment) joins the party, doomed to sail the seas until he finds a faithful woman, and surprised to see that Pandora is the image of his own wife, murdered centuries ago. So they are obviously destined to be together (and soon die together, as the prologue already revealed). Before that, the matador is (justly) killed, Sheila’s uncle reads us the Dutchman’s diary to fill in backstory, and John Laurie (sideburned village elder in Edge of the World) is occasionally spotted in a supporting role.
Mostly the movie is known as a gorgeously-shot (by Jack Cardiff) technicolor spectacular, which looks just great on blu-ray. And there’s a remarkable chess set by Man Ray, who also did the paintings in the Dutchman’s cabin.