Namu, The Killer Whale

Film

Family films

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Time Out says

The usual 'boy and his killer whale' tale receives a slightly different spin in this superior family offering, with Lansing as the naturalist who gives sanctuary to the eponymous ocean-going predator in his own cove, only to meet strong opposition from fishermen worried about their salmon stocks. Not as glossy as the latter-day Free Willy, but it passes - quite attractively and unsentimentally. Laslo Benedek who began his career as a camera assistant at UFA in the early '30s is best remembered as the director of Marlon Brando's The Wild One (he was also responsible for a Frank Sinatra musical titled The Kissing Bandit).
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Release details

UK release:

1966

Duration:

89 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Laslo Benedek

Cast:

Robin Mattson, Richard Erdman, Lee Meriwether, John Anderson, Robert Lansing, Joe Higgins

Music:

Samuel Matlovsky

Art Director:

Eddie Imazu

Editor:

Warren Adams

Cinematography:

Lamar Boren

Screenwriter:

Arthur Weiss

Producer:

Laslo Benedek

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3.8 / 5

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Jim Morrison

Namu became entangled in fish nets, and was bought from commercial fishermen in British Columbia for $8,000 ($5,000 for the whale, and $3,000 to replace the net) and brought to Seattle. This film was shot on San Juan Island, and it's not clear if the Killer Whale was brought to the San Juans, or just filmed in Seattle, and the scenes cut in. This is a well done simple film, and rumor has it that Lansing was a bit pompous on set, but that the little girl Robin was a delight. Lee Meriwether is the real actor in this film. The scenery of Spieden Channel, Spieden Island, and Battleship Island show the beauty of the islands well, and the little red haired kid, Geoff Goff, is now a contractor and still living on the island. The old lady, grand dame Clara Tarte, has passed on, but did a good job, even though she was just an islander extra. I recommend this film for young and old, with the budding environmental theme a part of the sixties. Killer Whales are a significant attraction in the islands, and with the salmon runs dropping, there is concern that the whales might move on to greener pastures. What will the local paper do, as the whale is a fixture of its masthead?