You're my best friend, Flipper

Luke Halpin teaches Flipper to become dependent on humans.

Question: Who would win in an epic battle between Flipper the dolphin and two bloodthirsty sharks?

If you’ve seen the 1963 adventure flick Flipper, you know the answer to this question.

Flipper is the story of a boy (Luke Halpin) who befriends a friendly, smart dolphin. This dolphin is so smart, in fact, it can hear and understand conversations taking place above the water. Not only that, this thing can read Halpin’s mind.

Oh dear. We don’t mean to make this sound creepy.

The boy’s fisherman father (Chuck Connors) disapproves of Flipper the dolphin. It’s nothing personal; he disapproves of all dolphins. He tells Halpin that dolphins eat up the fish stocks and wreck fishermen’s nets. But Halpin doesn’t care what the old man says; he and Flipper have a special bond, and trouble ensues when he defies his father’s wishes.

This movie rates pretty high on our Cheese Scale, but there are enough interesting scenes to entice you to stay until the end. For example, the ocean is beautiful, even though the footage is 40 years old. We were also absorbed in the opening scenes of the movie as townsfolk scramble to prepare for a looming hurricane.

Now, we realize that you may have seen the controversial 2009 documentary, The Cove; in which case, you’ll find Flipper a tough watch. We ourselves viewed the movie with a jaundiced eye, carefully studying Flipper (real name: Mitzi) for signs of stress-related illnesses.

We would be remiss if we didn’t include some observations about this movie:

  • Halpin has an impressive fly-away bang hairdo that can withstand both wind and rain.
  • Kathleen Maguire, who plays Halpin’s mother, looks unfailingly fresh in her sensible, ironed 60’s dresses.
  • Connors has an intense listening method: He always leans forward on his right leg to show that he’s Deeply Interested in what The Other Actor Is Saying.

Get this! MGM felt audiences didn’t get enough Flipper in one movie, so they made a sequel in 1964 (Flipper’s New Adventure) which is so awful we’ll pretend it never happened.

Should you make the effort to watch Flipper? If you’re an eight year-old girl, yes. But be warned: if you do watch this movie, the inane theme song will stick in your head for weeks.

Flipper: starring Chuck Connors, Luke Halpin, Kathleen Maguire. Directed by James B. Clark. Written by Arthur Weiss. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1963, Colour, 90 mins.

Happily blogging about old movies and using the royal "We".

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