Directed by James Clark. US. 1963. Age 6+. 87 minutes. Warner Bros. DVD.
Sat., November 3, 2012
Sit your kids down in front of Flipper, and they may not know what hit them. This Kennedy-era classic has everything today’s overstimulated rugrats never get to see anymore: real kids, real parents, and real animals having exciting adventures in a beautiful and interesting setting. The story couldn’t be simpler: Boy meets dolphin, boy loses dolphin, boy gets dolphin back. Twelve-year-old Sandy Ricks (Luke Halpin) lives with his fisherman father (Chuck Connors) and housewife mother (Kathleen McGuire) in a tumbledown oceanside cabin in the Florida keys. A water rat since birth, Sandy is always taking off on afternoon skin dives that are beautifully photographed by the same underwater experts responsible for Lloyd Bridges’ Sea Hunt TV show. One day Sandy comes across a dolphin that’s been injured by a harpoon. With the help of his parents, Sandy nurses the animal back to health and names him Flipper. Despite Dad’s warnings not to get too attached, Sandy and Flipper become best friends and spend long sunny days swimming together and putting on cute shows for the local kids.
But then the inevitable: Dad demands that Sandy return Flipper to the wild, and who’s gonna argue with Chuck Connors when he gets that stern look on his face? Sandy is crushed, and even his incipient pre-adolescent romance with a cutie from down the beach (Connie Scott) isn’t much solace.
It takes a truly scary hurricane to bring boy and dolphin together again. Like Lassie before him, Flipper is a born hero, always showing up just in time to save the day. Everything works out just fine, and a chorus of children’s voices rises to tell us ‘They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning, no one you see, is smarter than he.'” (Don Willmott, AMCtv.com)