February 11, 2020  (Web Review)

The Day of the Dolphin

Kino Lorber, 104 min., DVD: $19.95, Blu-ray: $29.95

Reviewer rating: 2.5/4

Writing in VL-11/03, Daniel Fienberg said: “Coming off The Graduate, Catch-22, and Carnal Knowledge, Mike Nichols made Day of the Dolphin in 1973 to burn off a studio contract, and his lack of personal investment in the project shows. George C. Scott stars as Dr. Jake Terrell, a scientist who trains a dolphin to speak English, only to watch his research get co-opted by a group of extremists bent on blowing up the presidential yacht. Working with cinematographer William A. Fraker, Nichols was able to get unprecedented big screen proximity to the hyper-intelligent and playful aquatic mammals, while Georges Delerue’s lovely Oscar-nominated score adds a sensual note to the languid scenes of dolphins at play. Unfortunately, the human characters are left floundering on land, with only the reliably intense Scott making any real impression. Working with frequent collaborator Buck Henry, Nichols took the sensationalistic adventure from Robert Merle’s novel and added in some half-baked pessimism about modern man’s failings compared to the idealized world of the dolphins; philosophical noodlings that finally have nothing to do with the underdeveloped conspiracy themes that sink the film’s second half.” Presented with a new 4K restoration, extras include a new audio commentary by film historians Howard S. Berger and Nathaniel Thompson, archival interviews with Henry and actors Leslie Charleson and Edward Hermann, and a radio spot. A strong optional purchase. (R. Pitman)