The Swimmer – Frank Perry (1968)

The Swimmer is a 1968 American surreal drama film starring Burt Lancaster. The film was written and directed by Academy Award-nominated husband-and-wife team of Eleanor Perry (screenplay adaptation) and Frank Perry (director). The story is based on the 1964 short storyThe Swimmer‘ by John Cheever, which appeared in the July 18, 1964, issue of The New Yorker. The 95-minute movie adds new characters and scenes consistent with those in the original 12-page short story. On a sunny day in an affluent suburb in Connecticut, a fit and tanned middle-aged man in a bathing suit, Ned Merrill, drops by a pool party being held by old friends. They offer him a cocktail while nursing hangovers from the night before. As they share stories, Ned realizes there is a series of backyard swimming pools that could form a ‘river’ back to his house, making it possible for him to ‘swim his way home’. Ned dives into the pool, emerging at the other end and beginning his journey. Ned’s behavior perplexes his friends, who apparently know worrisome things about his recent past which he seems to have forgotten. As Ned travels, he encounters other neighbors. He meets 20-year-old Julie, who used to babysit his daughters (whom he repeatedly refers to as ‘at home playing tennis’), and reveals his plan to her; she joins him. They crash another pool party and sip champagne. While chatting in a grove of trees, Julie reveals that she had a schoolgirl crush on Ned. After she tells him about two incidents of sexual harassment in her workplace, Ned begins talking about how he will protect her, making plans for the two of them. Discomfited by his intimate approaches, Julie runs away. Ned meets a wealthy older couple, unbothered by his eccentric behavior but also unimpressed by his posturing. He then encounters Kevin, a lonely young boy, whom he tries to teach how to swim. They use an abandoned, empty pool, which Ned urges the boy to imagine is filled with water. The boy warms to this method, and soon is ‘swimming’ the length of the empty pool. … In March 2014, Grindhouse Releasing/Box Office released The Swimmer on Blu-ray in high definition. The release received positive reviews, with giving it a rare five stars. Eccentric Cinema praised the company, saying ‘Grindhouse have been establishing themselves as the Criterion of offbeat cinema… They have taken a previously rare, and quite obscure, title and given it the special edition treatment that its fans have long dreamt of.’ …”
A Life in the Day: The Masculine Irreality of The Swimmer
The Dream Is Over: ‘The Swimmer’ (1968)
YouTube: The Swimmer 1968 Trailer

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