Featured Post

The Man from Earth (reviewed by Ben)

You’ve probably noticed that most of the movies we review on this page are successful, or at least well-known. So you might be surprised th...

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Flipper (the 1963 Version)

We introduced the kids to the world’s cleverest dolphin via the original 1963 film that inspired the 1964 TV series (rather than the 1996 remake with Paul Hogan and Elijah Wood).

Back in ’63, the Ricks family’s tough-but-with-a-heart-of-gold fisherman Dad (Porter Ricks, played shirtlessly by Chuck Conners), is bringing up his son Sandy (Luke Halpin) to understand the beautiful but unforgiving ways of the sea (argh!).

To dad’s great displeasure, son Sandy discovered a friendly, but wounded, dolphin and nursed him back to health. Soon boy and dolphin are hanging out all day, amusing Sandy’s friends and having adventures in the high seas. While Sandy should be doing his chores and gettin’ a decent education, instead he’s letting lovable old Flipper have at it with Dad’s catch of the day (double Argh!).

Dad eventually comes around when Flipper saves Sandy from not just one but a school of man-eating sharks in an underwater scene reminiscent of many Flipper battle sequences from the TV series. In the TV show, which ran from ’63-’67, a younger brother Bud (Tommy Norden) was added to the family (allowing Sandy to play the older, wiser sibling), and Chuck Conners was replaced by the far-less-gruff Brian Kelly as Porter Ricks (now a sensitive park ranger, rather than a gravelly old salt).

Does the movie seem dated? Sure, although compared to the formulaic conflicts in most contemporary family dramas, the struggle between Sandy and Dad over Flipper actually has some edge to it. And yes, the undersea fights are clearly shot in a pool, but they still leave you wondering how they got dolphins and sharks to find their motivation and bleed on cue.

Most importantly, the film introduces a family with freedoms that made a lasting imprint on those of us who grew up with Flipper in the 60s and 70s. Here was a boy (two boys in the TV series) who not only hung out and had adventures with a super-intelligent dolphin, but were also free to take their boat (or “the launch”) out to sea whenever they felt like it, jump overboard and hunt for treasure or play with Flipper and his fishy friends.

This resonated with those of us who grew up in an era when childhood “play” meant running around with friends, unsupervised, from morning until night. Bud and Sandy simply had boats and shoreline to explore freedoms we all took for granted. For kids whose lives are far more structured (i.e., ours and their friends who came over to join us for Movie Night), the world of Flipper was still entertaining, but just a bit more alien.

Whose Pick: Mom


Eli: 4/5
Ben: 5/5
Mom: 3/5
Dad: 4/5

Total: 16/20

No comments: