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Warner Home Video presents
Flipper (1963)

"I couldn't let him go pa, I've gotten to love him."
- Sandy Ricks (Luke Halpin)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: September 22, 2004

Stars: Chuck Connors, Luke Halpin
Other Stars: Connie Scott, Jane Rose, Joe Higgins, Robertson White, George Applewhite, Kathleen Maguire,
Director: James B. Clark

MPAA Rating: G for (Nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:30m:16s
Release Date: August 24, 2004
UPC: 012569514720
Genre: family

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+B+A- C-

DVD Review

Although the US Navy had been experimenting with dolphins in the 1950s, it was not until the early 1960s that John C. Lilly and other scientists working on communicating with the creatures exposed the dolphins' high level of intelligence. It is somewhat ironic that these findings would also inspire Hollywood to create a public relations nightmare for the navy's subsequent research in how to deploy sea creatures for military purposes. The 1963 feature film, Flipper, brought the intelligence of the dolphin clearly into public view, portraying the mammals as the aquatic version of Lassie. The film's popularity gave rise to a sequel (Flipper's New Adventure) the following year, and a more lighthearted spinoff TV series that lasted four seasons. The Flipper franchise was reborn in 1983 with another TV series, and again in 1995 and 1996 with two more TV series, The New Adventures of Flipper and a quasi-remake in 1996 starring Paul Hogan and Elijiah Wood.

Based on a story by Ricou Browning and Jack Cowden, and produced by Sea Hunt's Ivan Tors, Flipper tells the story of Sandy Ricks (Luke Halpin, who reprised his role in the 1964 sequel and TV series), a young boy living in the Florida Keys who befriends a dolphin after witnessing it being harpooned by a diver. Flipper is brought home to the family's fish holding pen where boy and dolphin bond during Flipper's recovery, but trouble starts when Sandy's fisherman father (Chuck Connors) returns from sea, demanding the dolphin be returned to the wild.

Flipper has a similar feel to the many live-action titles Disney was producing in the 1960s (including its fairly annoying theme song), but has less comedic elements than one might expect. The interaction between Sandy and Flipper is handled well, with lots of dolphin footage, which includes hijinx that make Flipper very personable. Having not seen this for the better part of three decades, I was a little surprised at the serious nature and sombre mood of parts, as the opening sequence sees the family endure a hurricane in which one of the local sailors is killed. The dolphin is seen harpooned, and its safety is later jeopardized when the fishermen see it as a threat to their livelihood, with orders to shoot on sight. Fortunately, these dramatic moments resolve themselves with the adults learning a lesson from the boy and his aquatic companion.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Image quality is solid, with good color reproduction and black levels. Grain is fairly prominent, but naturally rendered. Some print defects are present, but minor.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Frenchyes

Audio Transfer Review: Mono audio is well presented, with a respectable, if somewhat limited, frequency range, and reasonable clarity. Dialogue is easily discernable except in a few places. No major defects were noted.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 25 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Flipper's New Adventure
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Tom and Jerry cartoon
Extras Review: Trailers are included for Flipper and its 1964 sequel, Flipper's New Adventure along with the Tom and Jerry cartoon, Salt Water Tabby (7m:18s), a nice addition.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

The inaugural installment of the Flipper franchise is a fun, family adventure, but its many dramatic situations may require some parental guidance.


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