The Day of the Dolphin

Synopsis: Dr Jake Terrell, who has been training a pair of dolphins for many years, has had a breakthrough. He has taught his dolphins to speak and understand English, although they do have a limited vocabulary. When the dolphins are stolen, he discovers they're to be used in an assassination attempt. Now he is in a race to discover who is the target, and where the dolphins are, before the attempt is carried out.
Director(s): Mike Nichols
Production: AVCO Embassy Pictures
  Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 2 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
104 min

Imagine ...

... imagine that your life is spent

in an environment of total, physical sensation.

and everyone of your senses

has been heightened to a level that in a human being...

...might only be described as ecstatic.

That you are able to see ... perceive, with every part of your being.

seeing, hearing, taste, smell ...

...and every inch of your surface, your skin,

... is a receptor.

A continuous source of perfectly accurate information

about the world for miles around.

Imagine ...

... That you are able to carry on simultaneous conversations

with two members of your species,

one right next to you, and

the other several miles away.

Listen to the language ...

...intricate patterns of clicks, whistles,

squeaks and groans.

Sounds, subtle enough to convey

complicated factual data,

Complex enough, perhaps

to deal with...


...what we would call, ideas.

His brain... a big as a man's.

It processes information about two worlds.

The world of water where it is born

and feeds, and reproduces, and dies...

... and the world of air,

in which he breathes.

He has few natural enemies.

Shark, Barracuda ...

...the fisherman who doesn't care

what he catches,

and certain, clumsy scientists...

... who believe that the easiest path to an

animals brain is made with a scalpel.

As tragic and senseless

as that kind of death can be ... is his birth a moment of


Thats why I thought I would

close my report to you today...

... with this piece of film, which shows

our first dolphin, born in captivity.

His tail comes out first ...

That's so his spiracle, thats the hole on top of his head,

from which he breathes,

...can come out last.

Then rushes to the surface

to the air.

Watch closely, because,

this happens rather quickly.


Well, that was Alpha's birth.

He's now almost 4 years old...

...and we think he is very


That's all, unless

there are any questions.

Doctor Terrell ...

Did you say Alpha?

Yes we call him Alpha, because he's the first,

the first dolphin born at the center.

Its a little bit pretentious perhaps, but rather than

spot, or rover, actually, we call him Fa.

Is the Alpha still

with his mother?

No, ah, Alpha's mother died

shortly after giving birth...

... We don't know why.

We raised him ourselves.

My wife and associate, Margaret Anderson and I,

have spent the major part of the last 4 years...

living with him, feeding him, teaching him.

Teaching him what?

Well we are concentrating on certain experiments,

Trying to learn certain things from Alpha,

Things that have to do with, oh, measurements,

and intelligence, and so forth.

Doctor Terrell ...

... is it possible ...

I mean like I read somewhere...

... that the dolphins

are as intelligent, as we are?

Well it depends on your definition

of intelligence.

His brain contains a sonar system

that's amazingly sophisticated.

For instance it enables

him to distinguish...

...from enormous distances, between objects

of fractionally different sizes,

Or between, different

kinds of metal,

...or between organic, and inert matter.

Dr. Terrell...

...what about the experiments of the military...

I don't know anything about military.

But certainly you've heard about the misuse of animals

like dolphins that the government...

Just a moment please.

I'm not a political scientist ...

My degrees are in biology, and zoology

and behavioral psychology ...

... government and I pay very little attention

to each other.

Well, doctor, what is it, exactly, that

you hope to learn from all these studies?

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Buck Henry

Henry Zuckerman, credited as Buck Henry (born December 9, 1930), is an American actor, writer, film director, and television director. He has been nominated for an Academy Award twice, in 1968 for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Graduate and in 1979 for Best Director for Heaven Can Wait. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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