A film adaptation of Island of the Blue Dolphins was released on July 3, 1964. It was directed by James B. Clark and starred Celia Kaye as Karana. Jane Klove and Ted Sherdeman adapted the script from O'Dell's novel, and the film was produced by Robert B. Radnitz and Universal Pictures. The film was made on a slight budget but did receive a wide release three months after its New York premiere. The New York Times's Howard Thompson gave the film a rather condescending review upon its release, saying it was strictly a children's film. However, Kaye won a Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year for her performance. The film earned an estimated $2 million in rentals in North America.
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