Day of the Dolphin (1973): Mike Nichols’ Feature about Dolphins and U.S. President at Risk

Mike Nichols and screenwriter Buck Henry team for the third time, after collaborating on “The Graduate” and “Catch-22,” for this adaptation of Robert Merle’s best-selling novel about dolphins that become pawns in a plot to kill the president.

Sharply uneven, possibly a result of misunderstanding the source material, the movie is moderately engaging, but not exciting as a sci-fi thriller-adventure.

Oscar winner George C. Scott, of Patton fame, plays Dr. Jake Terrell, a researcher who, along with his wife Maggie (Trish Van Devere, Scott’s real wife), is investigating dolphin intelligence, believing they are capable to speak and do more than given credit to.

Harold DeMilo (Fritz Weaver), in charge of a major corporation, sponsors their work. But undercover work by government agent Curtis Mahoney (Paul Sorvino) reveals that DeMilo is working with a right-wing group planning to kidnap the dolphins and use them to blow up the presidential yacht. Jake and Maggie have to rush to save the dolphins and the president.

Oscar Nominations: 2

Sound: Richard Portman and Lawrence O. Jost

Score (Original): Georges Delerue

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

The Sound Oscar went to “The Exorcist.” Marvin Hamlisch received the Original Score for “The Way We Were.”


Running Time: 104 Minutes.

Directed by Mike Nichols.

Screenplay: Buck Henry.

Released: December 19, 1973.

DVD: July 29, 2003