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Dr Jake Terrell, who has been training a pair of dolphins for many years, has had a breakthrough. He has taught his dolphins to speak and understand English, although they do have a limited vocabulary. When the dolphins are stolen, he discovers they're to be used in an assassination attempt. Now he is in a race to discover who is the target, and where the dolphins are, before the attempt is carried out. Written by
Brian W Martz <B.Martz@Genie.com>
In the picturesque Florida Keys, ambitious and brilliant marine biologist George C. Scott (as Jake Terrell) teaches a dolphin to speak English. Their vocabulary includes use and meaning of words like "shark", "love" and "liar". It does not comprehend the hypothetical "if". As he is assisted by beautifully bronzed wife Trish Van Devere (as Maggie), Mr. Scott feels the dolphin Alpha (aka "Fa") would be happier and more productive with a mate. Consequently, the researchers are joined by Beta (aka "Bea"). Sexually gratified, the dolphin couple is very happy. But there is an adjustment period, while the new dolphin assimilates into the family. They call Scott and his wife "Pa" and "Ma" with childlike affection. When sneaky humans like Paul Sorvino (as Curtis Mahoney) are informed about Scott's smart dolphins, we must consider using them in a nefarious plot...
This is a strange collaboration between director Mike Nichols, actor Scott and writer Buck Henry. It is nicely staged, and lovingly photographed by William Fraker. Among many other classics, Mr. Fraker held the cameras for Roman Polanski's "Rosemary's Baby" (1968). Mr. Polanski was slated to direct "The Day of the Dolphin" in 1969, but left after the murder of his wife Sharon Tate and others by the (Charles) "Manson family"...
The musical soundtrack, by Georges Delerue, is another strength. However, the story doesn't really come across very well. This is strange because the concept and evil plot are essentially good. By now, dolphins may actually be communicating with humans; probably, there are words and meaning they understand. It might have been more believable if Scott and his team understood their sounds, but having them "speak" is easier. While the concept is fine, the sound and demeanor of the dolphins is silly (rather than childlike, if that was the intention). Additionally, the manner in which dastardly characters arrive and execute their nasty plan is wearisome and unexciting...
Interestingly, the Scotts kept loyal and attractive young assistant John David Carson (as Larry) for their next film project, "The Savage Is Loose" (1974), which turned the camera on human mating.
***** The Day of the Dolphin (12/19/73) Mike Nichols ~ George C. Scott, Trish Van Devere, Paul Sorvino, John David Carson
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