MIKE NICHOLS’ THE DAY OF THE DOLPHIN — A REVIEW BY NICK CLEMENT

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I am not exactly sure why I’ve become so obsessed with the lethargic 1973 odd-ball flick The Day of the Dolphin. Directed by Mike Nichols, written by Buck Henry, and starring a visibly annoyed George C. Scott as a dolphin trainer/scientist who has to deal with a shady group of terrorists who steal his prized dolphins with the intention of using them as a vessel for bombs in order to kill the president while he’s on his yacht, the film seems to want to be multiple things at once, with not one particular strand ever feeling fully formed. Paul Sorvino shambles around in the background as some sort of covert government operative, George Delerue’s score is rather amazing, William Fraker’s widescreen cinematography is strong and always visually interesting, and yet, there’s so little true suspense ever generated, and the entire film just feels silly rather than serious, which I can’t imagine was the intention by the creative team.

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And yet, I’m still drawn to this movie like bees are drawn to honey, and I just can’t fully articulate why this is. Roman Polanski and Franklin Schaffner were at various points considered for the directing job, while Nichols apparently claimed that filming The Day of the Dolphin was extremely challenging. Reviews were mixed and the film was a non-starter at the box-office but it certainly worth watching, if for nothing else than observing the seemingly irritated George C. Scott and some really fun footage of dolphins splashing around in the water. This is film is currently OOP on DVD (very expensive copies can be found on Amazon) and oddly enough, there’s a seemingly new listing for a new DVD release, but without a street date listed at Amazon. The Day of the Dolphin is ripe for a Blu-ray from a boutique label, like Criterion, Kino Lorber, Shout! Factory, Olive, or Twilight Time.

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