Famous fish on film

Think you know a ‘fin’ or two about the movies? Hooked on fishing?

We thought we’d combine the two to bring you some ‘reels’ from down the decades. The world’s most famous fish, ‘netted’ on the silver screen.


Jaws film poster

Image source: Nerdacy
Duh duh…duh duh…duh duh duh duh duh duh!

Easily the most famous fish movie franchise of all time, Jaws is the 1975 masterpiece directed by Steven Spielberg, featuring the scariest rubber fish in history. Even now, the theme music chills the spine.

Set in the fictional American seaside town of Amity Island, Jaws first makes a midnight feast of skinny dipping teen, Chrissie Watkins. Other snacks include a child and a fisherman, but still mayor Larry Vaughn won’t close the beach.

Sheriff brody is the hero of the hour, doing his duty in the face of wilful ignorance. Quint is the shark man, brave (and mad) enough to tackle the monster. The special effects are feeble by today’s standards and the vilification of sharks hasn’t helped the conservationists battling to save them. But it’s still a great movie.

Finding nemo

Nemo and Dory in Finding Nemo

Image source: Fan Pop
Nemo with his pal Dory

It’s is all about anthropomorphising fish, every time your kids have fish fingers for tea, they’ll feel like they’re committing murder. It’s a great coming of age story about dodging fishing rods, hungry, bigger fish and pesky humans!

When clownfish, Nemo is captured by scuba divers, his father, Marlin goes looking for him. His quest takes him to Sydney, where Nemo is held in captivity in a fish tank in an office overlooking the harbour.

This animation is funny and schmaltzy and of course it has a happy ending. It made Pixar a lot of money and deservedly so.

Flipper the dolphin

Flipper the dolphin film

Image source: Autostraddle
So good, there was a TV series and a film remake!

A watery version of “Lassie”, Flipper is a dolphin who likes to help out. In his first incarnation in the 1963 film, Flipper was harpooned by fisherman, Porter Ricks but rescued by his son, Sandy and taught to do tricks. There’s trouble when Flipper eats a load of Porter’s fish, but the dolphin redeems himself by leading the fisherman to a large shoal of fish and more importantly, protecting young Sandy from a marauding shark.

A TV series followed and then in 1996, a remake of the film starring Paul Hogan as Porter Ricks and a fifteen year old Elijah Wood as his son, Sandy. Suffice to say there was no harpooning in either the TV series, where Porter is recast as a marine reserve warden, or the film where he reprises the role of fisherman – albeit a good one.

Free Willy

Free Willy the film

Image source: Arcata Theater
Willy was freed both in the film and real life

While deviating from fish to mammals, it seems only fitting to mention Free Willy. The film is the the heartwarming tale of a young boy who befriends a captive whale, then helps to free it. The film was a surprise hit that spawned two sequels, each less successful than the last.  

The real star of the show was Keiko, the whale. The success of the film franchise prompted kids everywhere to write to Warner Bros to insist that ‘Willy’ be released in real life too.

At vast expense, the whale was moved first to a state of the art treatment tank in Oregon where he was nursed back to health, and then to a sea pen off the coast of Iceland. Keiko did manage a partial return to nature, hunting and socialising with other whales. In 2002 he embarked on an epic 1000 mile journey through the North Atlantic to the coast of Norway where a year later he died.

Rufus the Pacu

Rufus the pacu LA fear and loathing in los angeles

Image source: Yelp
The 40-year-old, 30 lb film star pacu fish called Rufus

Remember the pacu who starred alongside Johnny Depp in the 1997 film, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas? Called Rufus, he’s a 40 year old, 30 lb largely vegetarian relative of the piranha, who likes nothing better than a stick of carrot to crunch on.

The fish was big news recently because the restaurant in which he’d resided since he was tiddler, tanked. Donors pledged money to move the famous fish, but in the end he stayed put. The new restaurant owners plan instead to build Rufus a brand new 2000 gallon tank worthy of his star status.