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Orca (1977)

From the moment the titular beast kills a Great White shark, there’s little doubt which film producer Dino De Laurentiis has in his sights.

Clearly, the result is no Jaws, but this unlikely whale tale, charting Orca’s psychological duels with fisherman Captain Nolan (Richard Harris), has pleasures of its own as a trashy update of Moby Dick.

For such a shameless knock-off, Michael Anderson directs with pace, solidity and remarkable seriousness.

It’s all the more entertaining for the disconnect between its artistic aspirations (exhibit 1: Harris’s full-blooded thesping) and the ludicrously kitsch sight of the vengeful predator leaping in delight as it blows up a power station.

The titular Killer Whale was portrayed by an animatronic whale and filmed off the coasts of Malta and Newfoundland. Stock footage was also used of trained whales at Marine World in Redwood City, California.

Captain Nolan
Richard Harris
Rachel Bedford
Charlotte Rampling
Will Sampson
Bo Derek
Keenan Wynn
Robert Carradine
Al Swain
Scott Walker
Peter Hooten
Wayne Heffley

Michael Anderson