Boy on a Dolphin

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Boy on a Dolphin
Original lobby card
Directed by Jean Negulesco
Produced by Samuel G. Engel
Written by Ivan Moffat
Dwight Taylor
David Divine (novel)
Starring Alan Ladd
Clifton Webb
Sophia Loren
Music by Hugo Friedhofer
Cinematography Milton R. Krasner
Edited by William Mace
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
April 19, 1957 (1957-04-19)
Running time
111 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2.8 million[1]
Box office $3.3 million

Boy on a Dolphin is a 1957 20th Century Fox romantic film set in Greece and shot in CinemaScope. It was directed by Jean Negulesco and produced by Samuel G. Engel from a screenplay by Ivan Moffat and Dwight Taylor, based on the novel by David Divine.

The film is noteworthy as Sophia Loren's English language debut,[2] although it is also notable for her singing "T'in'afto pou to lene agapi" (What is this they call love) in Modern Greek.[3] Opposite Loren were stars Alan Ladd and Clifton Webb, with Alexis Minotis and Laurence Naismith in support. Hugo Friedhofer's score was nominated for a Best Music Academy Award in 1958. Cinematography was by Milton R. Krasner.


Phaedra (Sophia Loren) is a poor Greek sponge diver who accidentally finds an ancient Greek statue of a boy riding a dolphin on the bottom of the Aegean Sea. Her efforts to sell it to the highest bidder lead her to two competing individuals - Dr. James Calder (Alan Ladd), an honest archaeologist with an academic's bankroll, and Victor Parmalee (Clifton Webb), a wealthy but unscrupulous art collector.

Calder, a museum curator, is committed to seeing the statue handed over to the rightful Greek authorities. Parmalee seeks to outwit him and add the treasure to his private collection. Phaedra throws in with Parmalee, but ends up romantically involved with Calder, with predictable complications all round.


Production notes[edit]

Much of the film was shot on location on the Greek Saronic Islands, notably Hydra. Establishing shots of Athens, Rhodes and Delos add to the vérité, while matte shots and some interiors were done at Cinecittà in Rome. One scene utilizes the Eastern Orthodox monastery complex at Metéora later used as a location in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only.

The disparity in heights between the 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m) Loren and 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m) Ladd led to complications in filming. Some of their scenes together required him to stand on a box, while another forced a trench to be dug for Loren when the pair walked along the beach.[2]

Title song[edit]

The sultry theme song was sung by Julie London in the movie and is performed over the stunning underwater title sequence.:

There's a tale that they tell of a dolphin
And a boy made of gold.
With the shells and the pearls in the deep,
He has lain many years fast asleep
What they tell of the boy on a dolphin,
Who can say if it's true?
Should he rise from the depths of the ocean,
Any wish that you wish may come true.
You say "he's only a statue, and what can a statue achieve?"
And yet, while I'm gazing at you,
My heart tells my head to believe.
If the boy whom the gods have enchanted
Should arise from the sea,
And the wish of my heart could be granted,
I would wish that you loved only me.

Sophia Loren sings "What is this thing they call love" ("Tι΄ναι αυτό που το λένε αγάπη" by Tony Maroudas (el)) in a duet with a local performer (Tony himself) at an al fresco café.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p250
  2. ^ a b NY Times
  3. ^ Video on YouTube

External links[edit]