The Day of the Dolphin

"Good"

The Day of the Dolphin Review


Like watching a car try to beat a train across the tracks -- and failing -- The Day of the Dolphin is a jaw-dropping disaster that you can't turn away from. Fortunately, this one is caught on film (and now DVD) for posterity.

If you're unfamiliar with the movie, you won't believe it's really about this until you see it. Put simply, it's the story of a man (George C. Scott) who trains dolphins to speak -- English -- and then finds them caught up in a government assassination plot. It's either a grand joke on the scale of Punk'd or a grand disaster on the scale of Ishtar. There's not an ironic line in the film -- and in fact, there's not a terrible lot of lines, as the underwater footage recalls silent Jacques Cousteau-style filmmaking.

But the talking dolphins... they speak in squeaky monosyllabic "sentences" and dutifully obey Scott's instructions. No one cracks a smile. Is it all a gag? Look to the source: Mike Nichols and Buck Henry had reunited for this production after a string of exceptional movies including The Graduate and Catch-22. Neither of these fellows are known for making serious fare -- much less spy thrillers. The audience seems to have taken it on face value, and the film's disastrousness would obviously haunt Nichols for years. He wouldn't make another major film until ten years later (Silkwood). Henry wouldn't write another film until 1980. (Of course it has since become a minor cult film, for obvious reasons.)

There's not a terrible lot you can say about Dolphin from a pure critique standpoint. As a movie, it's rather shoddy, with bad rear projection, workmanlike acting, and a ridiculously bad story. Now presumably, you'll have knocked out at least a six-pack before you sit down to watch it -- so you may feel like you're riding on the boat right alongside a sweaty Paul Sorvino and a weepy Trish Van Devere. And sure, maybe you'll believe that dolphins can talk. And maybe you'll think it's all on the level. And maybe a moment of clarity will hit you, and the joke will wash over your psyche.

On the other hand, you are completely forgiven if it doesn't.



The Day of the Dolphin

Facts and Figures

Run time: 104 mins

In Theaters: Friday 29th March 1974

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 44%
Fresh: 8 Rotten: 10

IMDB: 6.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Robert E. Relyea

Starring: George C. Scott as Dr. Jake Terrell, as Maggie Terrell, as Curtis Mahoney, as Harold DeMilo, as David, as Mike, Leslie Charleson as Maryanne, as Larry, Victoria Racimo as Lana, John Dehner as Wallingford, as Schwinn, as Dunhill

Also starring:

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