Sunday, 24 August 2008

Boy On A Dolphin

Directed by Jean Negulesco and released in 1957, Boy on a Dolphin was a lavish romance set in Greece and sumptuously filmed in Technicolor and CinemaScope. Based on the novel by David Divine, the film starred the vertically challenged Alan Ladd and the statuesque Sophia Loren in her American film debut.

Loren plays Phaedra, a Greek sponge diver who discovers an ancient Greek statue of a boy riding a dolphin at the bottom of the Aegean Sea. Alan Ladd plays an archaeologist attempting to recover the statue for the Greek government, while Clifton Webb plays an unscrupulous treasure hunter who only wants it for his own private collection.

The shimmering fantasy soundtrack for Boy on a Dolphin composed by Hugo Friedhofer and conducted by Lionel Newman was nominated for 1957 Academy Award for the Original Best Score. It mixes traditional Greek themes with more western style music. The sultry theme song often attributed to Julie London (though she did record her own version) is actually sung by Mary Kaye in the movie and is performed over the stunning underwater title sequence.

During the scene when Phaedra discovers the statue, disembodied female vocals are used to great effect and recall the underscores to the original Star Trek series, usually when Kirk gets into a clinch with some Alien totty. Elsewhere you can hear where John Williams perhaps sought inspiration from this score for Star Wars: A New Hope.

I first became aware of this soundtrack when I heard Amon Tobin's dance track Sordid which sampled, The Dive. The Tobin track was also used as the musical backdrop for Chris Morris' darkly comedic Suicide Journalist on his Blue Jam album. I was fascinated by the eerie mysterious vibe of the sample and was delighted when I finally tracked it down.

There was a time when Boy on A Dolphin was a popular staple of Saturday afternoon telly, which makes it inexplicable why it's not officially available on DVD. Even though it's not the greatest of adventures and the on-screen chemistry of the principals is somewhat lacking, the film looks great and Loren...well we've all see that photo!

For a more in-depth appraisal of Boy On A Dolphin, there's an excellent article on TCM which you can access by clicking Here


Anonymous said...

I had recently seen this movie on TCM, Thank God for TCM.
It was good but I wish Sophia did more cheese-cake. It's a shame that such a beautiful woman never wore a bikini.
Thanks for this rare sound track Vince

Honored General said...

Thank You for this. One can never have enough Friedhofer around the house. Intrada released a full soundtrack of this, 1500 copies. Sold out completely!

Sophia is still a beautiful woman now, but then, I'll bet she was the focus of many a young man's fancy.

Nice blog, by the way, you do well by it.

Thank You, once again!

Honored General