Orca (1977)

PG | 92 mins | Adventure, Drama | 13 July 1977

Director:

Michael Anderson

Producer:

Luciano Vincenzoni

Cinematographer:

Ted Moore

Production Designer:

Mario Garbuglia

Production Company:

Famous Films
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HISTORY

       Referring to the picture by its working title, a 25 Feb 1976 Var news item announced that director Michael Anderson was preparing for a Jun 1976 start on The Killer Whale. The film was listed as Orca in a 1 Apr 1976 DV story, however, later a DV article on 19 May 1976 and a Var item dated 2 Jun 1976, referred to the film as The Killer Whale (L’Orca). Home video releases frequently carry the title, Orca: The Killer Whale.
       Although not credited onscreen, lyricist Carol Connors sings “My Love, We Are One,” over the end credits. The first name of art director Ferdinando Giovannoni is misspelled “Ferinando” in the onscreen credits.
       A 16 Jun 1976 Var story reported that principal photography began on Orca 14 Jun 1976 near St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, with a budget of $12 million. On 20 Jul 1976, DV stated that the production was moving to the Mediterranean island nation of Malta. A 19 May 1976 Var story noted that the production would use the large Ricasoli tank there. An Aug 1976 Cinemaphile news item reported the production was also filming in the U.S. and Australia.
       According to a 24 May 1977 DV article, Paramount Pictures Corp. held a sneak preview at Lakewood Center Theatre in Lakewood, CA, with presenter Dino DeLaurentiis and Paramount Pictures executives Barry Diller and Michael Eisner in attendance.
       The 16 Jul 1977 NYT review cautioned audiences that, “If it were medically possible to overdose on claptrap, ... More Less

       Referring to the picture by its working title, a 25 Feb 1976 Var news item announced that director Michael Anderson was preparing for a Jun 1976 start on The Killer Whale. The film was listed as Orca in a 1 Apr 1976 DV story, however, later a DV article on 19 May 1976 and a Var item dated 2 Jun 1976, referred to the film as The Killer Whale (L’Orca). Home video releases frequently carry the title, Orca: The Killer Whale.
       Although not credited onscreen, lyricist Carol Connors sings “My Love, We Are One,” over the end credits. The first name of art director Ferdinando Giovannoni is misspelled “Ferinando” in the onscreen credits.
       A 16 Jun 1976 Var story reported that principal photography began on Orca 14 Jun 1976 near St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, with a budget of $12 million. On 20 Jul 1976, DV stated that the production was moving to the Mediterranean island nation of Malta. A 19 May 1976 Var story noted that the production would use the large Ricasoli tank there. An Aug 1976 Cinemaphile news item reported the production was also filming in the U.S. and Australia.
       According to a 24 May 1977 DV article, Paramount Pictures Corp. held a sneak preview at Lakewood Center Theatre in Lakewood, CA, with presenter Dino DeLaurentiis and Paramount Pictures executives Barry Diller and Michael Eisner in attendance.
       The 16 Jul 1977 NYT review cautioned audiences that, “If it were medically possible to overdose on claptrap, Orca … would be compelled to carry a warning from the Surgeon General.”
      End credits include the following statement: “The Producer wishes to acknowledge the very special photographic contribution made by J. Barry Herron.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
19 Jul 1976.
---
Box Office
25 Jul 1977.
---
Cinemaphile
Aug 1976.
---
Daily Variety
1 Apr 1976
p. 3.
Daily Variety
19 May 1976.
---
Daily Variety
13 Jul 1976.
---
Daily Variety
20 Jul 1976.
---
Daily Variety
24 May 1977
p. 3.
Films and Filming
Sep 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jul 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jul 1977
p. 3.
LAHExam
13 Jul 1977.
---
Los Angeles Free Press
21 Jul 1977
pp. 9-10.
Los Angeles Times
14 Jul 1977
Section G, p. 1.
Motion Picture Production Digest
3 Aug 1977.
---
New York
1 Aug 1977.
---
New York Times
16 Jul 1977
p. 12.
Time
8 Aug 1977.
---
Variety
25 Feb 1976.
---
Variety
19 May 1976
p. 54.
Variety
2 Jun 1976.
---
Variety
16 Jun 1976.
---
Variety
13 Jul 1977
p. 18.
Westways
Sep 1977.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Famous Films N.V. production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit and underwater dir
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit asst dir
2d unit asst dir
WRITERS
Orig story and scr
Orig story and scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Shark seqs in Australia
Cam op
Cam op
Focus puller
Asst cam
Still photog
Underwater cam op
Asst underwater cam op
Underwater gaffer
Key grip
Sea cam stabilization
Dolly grip
Front projection
Process cam
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dir
Storyboard
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Prop master
Prop master
Set painter
Const coord
Miniature coord
Asst props
Master carpenter
Painter
COSTUMES
Ward asst
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
SOUND
Sd mixer
Re-rec mixer
Boom man
Sd eff
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Chemical eff
Mechanical eff
Mechanical eff
Supv of photog eff
Spec eff, Whale
Spec eff, Whale
Spec eff, Whale
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr, Canada
Prod mgr, Canada
Cont supv
Post prod supv
Unit pub
Unit pub
Loc auditor
Prod auditor
Prod accounting
For Marine World – Africa U.S.A., San Francisco Bay – Redwood City
Dir of training
For Marine World – Africa U.S.A., San Francisco Bay – Redwood City
Marine mammal trainer
Scr supv
Divers
Divers
Prod secy
Prod secy
STAND INS
Underwater stuntman
Stunt coord
SOURCES
SONGS
"My Love, We Are One," lyrics by Carol Connors, music by Ennio Morricone, performed by Carol Connors.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Orca: Killer Whale
The Killer Whale
The Killer Whale ("L'Orca")
Release Date:
13 July 1977
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 13 July 1977
New York opening: 15 July 1977
Production Date:
began 14 June 1976 in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada and Malta
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Colour by Techicolor
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision
Duration(in mins):
92
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Two killer orca whales frolic off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. Nearby, a great white shark stalks a marine biologist, Rachel Bedford, and her assistant, Ken, while they are on a dive. Meanwhile, aboard the fishing vessel Bumpo, Captain Nolan and his crew, Gus Novak, Annie, and Paul, hunt the shark. The Bumpo spots the shark and rescues the researchers, but Nolan chastises Rachel for possibly costing him the $250,000 he may have received from a marine park for the twenty-five-foot shark. The shark returns and Ken falls from the research dinghy into the water. However, just as the shark attacks, a killer whale rams the shark, knocking it out of the water and killing it. Later, Rachel lectures her university students on the power, intelligence and capacity for vengeance possessed by killer whales. Captain Nolan later drops in on her classes, and Rachel is appalled by his ignorance of the creatures. On the coast, where Nolan builds a holding pen, Rachel tells the captain that he will not be able to catch the whale and will likely injure many orcas in his attempt. Later, aboard the Bumpo, Annie points out that whales are monogamous and by capturing one they could be breaking up happy families. Unimpressed, Nolan fires a harpoon with a tranquilizer and nicks the fin of a male killer whale and hits his mate. As the female orca wails and swims under the boat into the propeller, Annie suggests the orca is trying to kill herself. ... +


Two killer orca whales frolic off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. Nearby, a great white shark stalks a marine biologist, Rachel Bedford, and her assistant, Ken, while they are on a dive. Meanwhile, aboard the fishing vessel Bumpo, Captain Nolan and his crew, Gus Novak, Annie, and Paul, hunt the shark. The Bumpo spots the shark and rescues the researchers, but Nolan chastises Rachel for possibly costing him the $250,000 he may have received from a marine park for the twenty-five-foot shark. The shark returns and Ken falls from the research dinghy into the water. However, just as the shark attacks, a killer whale rams the shark, knocking it out of the water and killing it. Later, Rachel lectures her university students on the power, intelligence and capacity for vengeance possessed by killer whales. Captain Nolan later drops in on her classes, and Rachel is appalled by his ignorance of the creatures. On the coast, where Nolan builds a holding pen, Rachel tells the captain that he will not be able to catch the whale and will likely injure many orcas in his attempt. Later, aboard the Bumpo, Annie points out that whales are monogamous and by capturing one they could be breaking up happy families. Unimpressed, Nolan fires a harpoon with a tranquilizer and nicks the fin of a male killer whale and hits his mate. As the female orca wails and swims under the boat into the propeller, Annie suggests the orca is trying to kill herself. The crew hoists the female from the sea, but it appears dead. A fetus falls from her abdomen and lands on the deck. The male orca screams and Nolan washes the fetus overboard with a hose as the crew hastily leaves. That night, the boat is rocked from below by the male orca. The crew is astonished to see that the female, still hoisted above the boat, remains alive. To appease the male, Nolan orders Novak to cut the female loose. As soon as he does so, the male leaps from the water, grabbing Novak in his jaws and pulling him into the sea. Captain Nolan and the male orca stare one another down. In the morning, the orca pushes his mate’s dead body through the water, toward the shore, where she later washes up on Nolan’s beach. When Nolan finds Rachel with the orca’s body, he is amazed that the whale was able to swim to shore against the tide, but Rachel corrects him, telling him that the mate followed Nolan’s boat and pushed his companion to shore. Jacob Umilak, a tribal teacher, joins them and confirms Rachel’s theory; he warns Nolan to stay far from the whale’s territory. Following Novak’s funeral in town, Nolan donates Novak’s salary to the fishermen’s fund and asks the priest if it is possible to commit a sin against an animal. The priest tells him that all sins are really against one’s self. Outside the church, Novak meets Al Swain, the head of the fishermen’s union, who tells him that locals will be upset if the orca remains in the area, because it will scare away the food fish from which they make their livelihoods. Soon after, the orca enters the harbor and sinks two moored boats. That evening, Rachel gives Nolan a book on whale mythology with a quote from Herman Melville, but refuses his invitation to attend Novak’s wake. Swain tells Nolan that the ship workers are speeding the repair of the Bumpo, because they want Nolan to leave. The next day, Umilak warns Nolan that the townspeople think he is afraid and that he should kill the whale. Later, Nolan attempts to lure the whale to shore where he can shoot the animal. Rachel tells him that the whale will not comply because he wants to fight Nolan at sea, and that is why he sunk the other boats, but not the Bumpo. Nolan refuses to fight the orca at sea, but realizes he could not shoot it. He resolves to look it in the eye and apologize, explaining that his own wife and unborn child were killed by a drunk driver. Meanwhile, the orca returns to the harbor and rams a boat, triggering an explosion. Swain’s crew works all night to make the Bumpo seaworthy. Nolan receives a threatening phone call telling him that the boat is ready and he is to hunt the whale at dawn. Nolan informs his crewman, Paul, that they are leaving town, but he calls Rachel to report he is remaining behind to battle the orca alone. Rachel unsuccessfully attempts to dissuade him. Paul goes to a service station, but is refused gasoline. Umilak explains that the town will not let them leave and Nolan must stay and fight. The whale rams the pillars beneath Nolan’s seaside house and it begins to fall into the water. Because of a broken leg, Annie is unable to move and Nolan and Paul return and try to save her. However, the orca breaks the house apart and maims her. The next day, Nolan sails on the Bumpo , with Paul, Umilak, Rachel, and Ken as his crew. At sea, the orca bumps the boat, but Nolan forbids Paul from shooting the whale. Rachel stops Nolan from using dynamite by tossing the explosives overboard. Ken gets too close to the edge of the boat and the whale leaps and grabs him in its teeth, dragging him below the surface. The next day, the whale leads the Bumpo away from the Gulf of St. Lawrence and out to the icy open sea off Labrador. Umilak calculates that they do not have enough fuel to return home. Fatigue takes its toll, and the others quarrel with Nolan. Umilak counsels the captain to get some rest, but Paul is knocked overboard and eaten by the whale. In the cabin, Rachel cradles Nolan as he laments all the damage his obsession has caused. In the morning, Umilak points a rifle at Nolan and tells him he is taking command, but Rachel interrupts to warn that an iceberg is moving toward them. Nolan realizes that the orca is propelling the iceberg from below and Umilak sends a distress signal. As the iceberg gets closer, Nolan arms himself with a harpoon and throws it perfectly, striking the whale, but the iceberg knocks the Bumpo into a larger iceberg, triggering an avalanche, and Umilak is killed by falling ice. Nolan and Rachel scramble onto the large iceberg as the Bumpo sinks. The orca hunts them, repeatedly crashing through the ice. They climb to a higher point, but Nolan is knocked to a sheet of ice, which breaks away. Nolan takes aim at the whale with the rifle, but does not shoot. The whale submerges and then soars into the air, landing on one end of the ice floe. Nolan slides down toward the whale and the orca flips him into the air. Nolan lands on the ice near Rachel and slides into the water, dead. The orca surfaces and stares Rachel in the eye. A rescue helicopter appears overhead and the whale swims slowly away. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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