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The Day of the Dolphin (1973)

A marine biologist teaches his dolphins to communicate in English but shady characters plan to kidnap the trained mammals for a more sinister purpose.

Director:

Mike Nichols

Writers:

Buck Henry (screenplay), Robert Merle (novel)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
George C. Scott ... Jake Terrell
Trish Van Devere ... Maggie Terrell
Paul Sorvino ... Curtis Mahoney
John Dehner ... Wallingford
Severn Darden ... Schwinn
Elizabeth Wilson ... Mrs. Rome
William Roerick William Roerick ... Dunhill
Phyllis Davis ... Receptionist
Pat Zurica ... First Mate
Jon Korkes ... David
Edward Herrmann ... Mike
Leslie Charleson ... Maryanne
Victoria Racimo ... Lana
John David Carson ... Larry
Willie Myers Willie Myers ... Stone (as Willie Meyers)
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Storyline

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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The most amazing outdoor adventure ever filmed! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Sci-Fi | Thriller

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 March 1974 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

El día del delfín See more »

Filming Locations:

Abaco Island, Bahamas See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$8,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$2,300,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Embassy Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Screenwriter Buck Henry provides the voices of the dolphins when they speak human words. See more »

Goofs

[All goofs for this title are spoilers.] See more »

Quotes

Dr. Jake Terrell: They'll kill 'em.
Curtis Mahoney: Hmm?
Dr. Jake Terrell: They'll kill 'em, won't they?
Curtis Mahoney: Yes, of course they will.
Margaret 'Maggie' Terrell: Why?
Curtis Mahoney: They killed a man. Do you think they're going to get sentimental about a dolphin?
Margaret 'Maggie' Terrell: But, Jake, why? What - What would be the point of killing *them*?
Dr. Jake Terrell: Alpha can talk. We taught 'im, remember? He's a witness.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Eye Of The Dolphin - The Red Ball
Written and Performed by Georges Delerue Et Son Orchestre
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Utterly Irreparable Heartbreak
13 July 2011 | by jzappaSee all my reviews

Marine biology scientist Dr. Jake Terrell, his wife Maggie and a crew of ecologists for the last few years have been financed by an organization to study confined dolphins on a distant Florida island. They've conditioned a male and a female dolphin to say "fa," "ma," "pa" and other basic vocabulary, and to comprehend English sufficiently enough to have simple dialogue. But Alpha can't be trained to think in English. He can merely mimic, until Jake teaches him a lesson about loss. He introduces a female dolphin, Beta, watches Alpha fall for her, then splits them up until Alpha can demand her, in English. The wholesale sequence showing Alpha swimming frantically around, thrashing his tail on the enclosure that divides them, is heartrending.

Jake is like the classic father of the baby-boom bracket, unwavering in teaching valuable lessons even when he feels his child's anguish, in this case a dolphin who loves him like a father. When Alpha at last begs for Beta by name, it's an intensely gratifying moment, exemplifying the identity-related idea of language as a conciliation intuited out of loss. And, much to our grief, Alpha is now disposed to all kinds of anthropomorphic cognizant suffering.

And naturally, trouble lies ahead in the form of a thriller plot true to the pinnacle era of conspiracies and rogue government. Initially, a young Paul Sorvino's slippery pollster blackmails his way onto Dr. Terrell's island, and before long, a sinister regime faction is revealed to intend to use the newfound capacity for communication in these dolphins to their advantage by abducting them for function in a presidential assassination, of all things.

In training Alpha and Beta to verbalize, Jake destines them for humanity, initiating them into ceaseless yearning and unlocking the floodgates to advantage being taken of them. In due course, with the purpose of thwarting Alpha and Beta more exploitation, Jake must make a decision that is inconceivable to the living, beating heart. Pure as they are, dolphins comprehend mere absolutes. How can you make a dolphin understand not only that humans can be both good and bad, tell lies and kill their own, but that rejection, abandonment can still mean undying love, ultimate sacrifice? "Men are bad," he tells them, hardly suppressing his utterly irreparable heartbreak, and ours. "All men bad."


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