Boy on a Dolphin

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Boy on a Dolphin
Original lobby card
Directed byJean Negulesco
Produced bySamuel G. Engel
Written byIvan Moffat
Dwight Taylor
Based onBoy on a Dolphin
1955 novel
by David Divine
StarringAlan Ladd
Clifton Webb
Sophia Loren
Music byHugo Friedhofer
CinematographyMilton Krasner
Edited byWilliam Mace
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
April 19, 1957 (1957-04-19)
Running time
111 minutes
CountryUnited States
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 of the same name by David Divine.

The film was Sophia Loren's English-language debut.[2] She starred opposite 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 Krasner. It was the first Hollywood movie shot in Greece.


Phaedra (Sophia Loren) is a poor Greek sponge diver on the island of Hydra. She works from the boat of her boyfriend, Rhif (Jorge Mistral), an illegal immigrant from Albania. She 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 who will surrender it to Greek authorities, and Victor Parmalee (Clifton Webb), an aesthete and an unscrupulous dealer with a history of trying to acquire works of art stolen by the Nazis from their owners.

Calder and Parmalee each try to win Phaedra's cooperation. She works in concert with Parmalee, while developing feelings for Calder. When she seems to waver, Rhif decides to make the deal with Parmalee work. The film reaches a happy conclusion, with virtue rewarded, the statue celebrated by the people of Hydra, and Phaedra and Calder in each other's arms. Parmalee, a man with no apparent national loyalties or heritage, sets course for Monte Carlo.


Production notes[edit]

The film was loosely based on David Divine's novel by the same name which was published in 1955, which presents as rivals an English archeologist and an impoverished Greek student.[3]

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] Dwight Taylor wrote a version of the script.[8]

Henry Koster was originally meant to direct. However he was delayed on D Day the Sixth of June and was replaced by Jean Negulesco.[9] [10]

The female lead eventually went to Sophia Loren.[11] Alan Ladd signed on 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 uses the Eastern Orthodox monastery complex at Metéora, which was later used as a location in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only.

Webb fell ill with pneumonia during the shoot.[14] 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 dissimilarity 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.[17]


Sophia Loren sings "What is this thing they call love" ("Tι΄ναι αυτό που το λένε αγάπη") with an uncredited Tonis Maroudas [el]. The theme song sung by Julie London is heard over the 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.


The film's world premiere on 10 April 1957 in New York was a benefit for Queen Frederika's Fund for Greek Orphans.[18]


  1. ^ Webb's middle name was Parmelee, his mother's maiden name.


  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. ^ NY Times
  3. ^ Lardner, Rex (November 6, 1955). "Undersea Archaeologist" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  4. ^ Pryor, Thomas M. (21 April 1955). "Goldwyn Winner of Court Battle" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  5. ^ "Of Local Origin" (PDF). New York Times. 19 May 1955. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  6. ^ Pryor, Thomas M. (21 July 1955). "Cary Grant Signs for Kramer Film" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  7. ^ Drama: Indie Setups Announced by Cummings, Chandler; Hello, Barry Fitzgerald Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times 21 Nov 1955: 41.
  8. ^ Timid Sheriff Prospect for Malden in 'Frenzy;' Sal Mineo Gains in Favor Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times 30 Dec 1955: B7.
  9. ^ MARILYN MONROE WINS PACT FIGHT: Star, Fox Agree to 7-Year Non-Exclusive Contract for Total of 4 Pictures New Film for Doris Day Switches at Fox Of Local Origin By THOMAS M. PRYOR New York Times 5 Jan 1956: 27.
  10. ^ Cagney Forgoes Two Movies to Spend Time with Children Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune 10 Apr 1956: b7.
  11. ^ Pryor, Thomas M. (23 August 1956). "Malden to Direct his First Picture" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  12. ^ Pryor, Thomas M. (27 August 1956). "Ladd to Co-Star in Fox Production" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  13. ^ Hawkins, Robert F. (27 January 1957). "New Activities on the Italian Movie Front" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  14. ^ Baby Killer Found Guilty but Insane Los Angeles Times 27 Oct 1956: B1.
  15. ^ Pryor, Thomas M. (11 November 1956). "Hollywood Dossier" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  16. ^ Clifton Webb Stirred by Greece Adventure Scott, John L. Los Angeles Times 17 Mar 1957: E1.
  17. ^ Baldwin, Paul; Williams Malone, John (2001). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Acting. Indianapolis: Alpha. p. 122. ISBN 9780028641539.
  18. ^ "Film Premiere to Aid Greece" (PDF). New York Times. 31 March 1957. Retrieved 14 February 2016.

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