The Day of the Dolphin (1973)

Genres - Drama, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Political Thriller, Animal Picture  |   Release Date - Dec 19, 1973 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 104 min.  |   Countries - USA  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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An uneasy merger of early 1970s eco-sensitivity and political paranoia, The Day of the Dolphin (1973) presents the unique spectacle of talking dolphins charged with foiling a presidential assassination plot. Striking out into different territory for their third collaboration, director Mike Nichols and writer Buck Henry veer between a lighthearted, gorgeously shot ocean mammal adventure, a sensitive study of man-dolphin relationships, and a ham-fisted indictment of animal exploitation, as biologist George C. Scott and wife Trish Van Devere are forced to confront the effects of breaking the human-dolphin communication barrier. Though the dopey thriller subplot sabotages whatever deeper interest the story may have had, the relationship between Scott's Dr. Tyrell and his beloved, verbal dolphin Fa is ultimately far more emotionally affecting than might be expected (aided by Georges Delerue's Oscar-nominated score). Still, despite the top-of-the-line production values and creative personnel, The Day of the Dolphin joined Catch-22 (1970) as a Nichols and Henry big-budget disappointment, both artistically and financially.