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
Based on Boy on a Dolphin
1955 novel 
by David Divine
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 DeLuxe Color and 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]

The film was based on a novel which was published in 1955. 20th Century Fox bought the film rights prior to publication.[4] Sam Engel was assigned to produce and Alec Coppel to write.[5] Clifton Webb and Joan Collins were announced as stars.[6] Then Leon Uris was signed to work on the script and Henry Koster to direct.[7] Then Dwight Taylor wrote a version of the script.[8] Eventually Jean Negulesco became the director.[9]

The movie was the first Fox film to be shot in the new 55 mm Cinemascope process.[10] The female lead eventually went to Sophia Loren.[11] Alan Ladd signed on as a star shortly before shooting commenced.[12]

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.[13] One scene utilizes the Eastern Orthodox monastery complex at Metéora later used as a location in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only.

Webb fell ill with pneumonia during the shoot.[14] Apart from this filming went relatively smoothly, despite the fact it was the first Hollywood movie shot in Greece.[15] Webb later sponsored two Greek children.[16]

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.


The film's premiere on 10 April 1957 was a charity for Greek's orphans.[17]

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
  4. ^ GOLDWYN WINNER OF COURT BATTLE: Producer Acquires Mary Pickford's Share of Studio With Bid of $1,920,000 By THOMAS M. PRYORSpecial to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 21 Apr 1955: 32.
  5. ^ Of Local Origin New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 19 May 1955: 26.
  6. ^ CARY GRANT SIGNS FOR KRAMER FILM: Actor to Co-Star in 'Pride and Passion,' Based on Novel 'The Gun' by Forester By THOMAS M. PRYORSpecial to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 21 July 1955: 20.
  7. ^ Drama: Indie Setups Announced by Cummings, Chandler; Hello, Barry Fitzgerald Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 21 Nov 1955: 41.
  8. ^ Timid Sheriff Prospect for Malden in 'Frenzy;' Sal Mineo Gains in Favor Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 30 Dec 1955: B7.
  9. ^ Cagney Forgoes Two Movies to Spend Time with Children Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 10 Apr 1956: b7.
  10. ^ DISNEY WILL FILM NOVEL ABOUT DOG: Buys Rights to 'Old Yeller'-- Production Team Changed for 'Red Nichols Story' Fox to Release 55-mm. Film Of Local Origin Syria Bans 'South of Algiers' By OSCAR GODBOUT Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 16 July 1956: 17.
  11. ^ MALDEN TO DIRECT HIS FIRST PICTURE: Actor Will Guide Filming of 'Time Limit!,' Widmark's Initial Production Of Local Origin By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 23 Aug 1956: 24.
  12. ^ LADD TO CO-STAR IN FOX PRODUCTION: Actor Signed for 'Boy On a Dolphin'--Movie Planned of 'Brothers Karamazov' Durante in Walker Film By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 27 Aug 1956: 15.
  13. ^ NEW ACTIVITIES ON THE ITALIAN MOVIE FRONT: SHAKESPEAREAN REVIVAL By ROBERT F. HAWKINS. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 27 Jan 1957: X5.
  14. ^ Baby Killer Found Guilty but Insane Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 27 Oct 1956: B1.
  15. ^ HOLLYWOOD DOSSIER: Post-1948 Films Head Toward TV--Addenda Posers "Dolphin" in Greece No Casting Today By THOMAS M. PRYOR. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 11 Nov 1956: 145.
  16. ^ Clifton Webb Stirred by Greece Adventure Scott, John L. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 17 Mar 1957: E1.
  17. ^ Film Premiere to Aid Greece New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 31 Mar 1957: 91.

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