The original Flipper movie is simple, and unpretentious tale that tickles the heartstrings. The story line is uncomplicated, with touches that keep it grounded in reality.
Chuck Connors, best known for playing Lucas McCain on "The Rifleman" TV program, is once again cast as a strong father figure. Here he is Porter Ricks, a fisherman trying to eek out a living, and support his wife (Kathleen Maguire) and young son Sandy (Luke Halpin). Life is very hard, as after surviving a hurricane, Porter must leave his family to repair his boat damaged in the storm.
While his father is away, Sandy is exploring the sea with some friends. A dolphin (Flipper), is shot with a spear by another boy in the party. The shooter is himself injured, and is taken away for medical attention. Sandy returns to the scene, with shotgun in hand, prepared to put the injured dolphin out of it's misery. Of course that can't happen, and Sandy brings the injured dolphin home.
Flipper's recovery is a most miraculous one, but the real story deals with the relationship between father and son, and the growth of the young man. Sandy is a good kid, but not syrupy sweet. Ricks loves his son, but is determined to have him face the realities of life. Thanks to Flipper, both father and son learn some valuable lessons in life.
The story of Flipper's origin, has a more serious tone than the TV program. Though it doesn't have a lot of warm and fuzzy moments, it is still fairly good family entertainment.