The Swimmer (1968) Review

The Swimmer (1968)

Directed by Frank Perry

Screenplay by Eleanor Perry

Based on The Swimmer 1964 story in The New Yorker by John Cheever

Starring: Burt Lancaster, Janet Landgard, Janice Rule

Music by Marvin Hamlisch

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A man spends a summer day swimming as many pools as he can all over a quiet suburban town.

My Opinion:

Thanks to my longtime blogging buddy Film Miasma for introducing me to this movie via his reviews here: Part 1 & Part 2. How had I not heard of this movie before?

Well, this was an odd one but I liked it a lot. It’s certainly unique, which is something I’m always looking for as I watch too many movies & get bored with the majority being so predictable. I didn’t know where this story was going and honestly am still not sure what the hell was going on at the end & what it was meant to mean but man I loved how the film captured that swinging late ‘60s vibe. Also liked what it (maybe?) is saying about the lifestyles of the rich & the powerful (men especially) and the damage that can cause to them & those around them. It feels like this movie would fit in perfectly with recent films exploring these same themes, such as The Menu (which I didn’t love – it had a good idea but the execution could have been much better).

So, this guy (Burt Lancaster) has decided he’s going to swim his way back home via the swimming pools of all his friends & neighbors. The story starts out pleasant enough while he chats with those whose pools he’s using, although there’s an uneasy feeling running throughout the whole film & I loved that sense of dread in this beautiful setting. Things get more tense & bizarre with each pool that he encounters. Then comes the ending, which my Twilight Zone-loving self really appreciated.

The story feels quite ahead of its time for 1968 & I can easily see them doing a new version of this film as its ideas are just as, and maybe even more, relevant today. But I’d worry they’d make a complete mess of it & wouldn’t capture the same mood that worked so perfectly in ‘60s & ‘70s films. So hopefully the original film will instead become one of those that gets rediscovered. Don’t know why it’s not more well known. Would like to read the short story by John Cheever on which this is based.

I’m still not entirely sure what the film is about or what it’s trying to say. I think it could mean different things to different people, so I like that you can take whatever you may choose for yourself from it. For me, although I can’t relate specifically to a rich male not being able to come to terms with his issues, I felt quite sad about the changes in the film that I think could also represent the passage of time, aging, and sometimes feeling like we’re losing ourselves along the way.

Yeah, I liked this one a lot. Great story & deeply affecting. Wish there were more original films like this.

My Rating: 8/10


6 thoughts on “The Swimmer (1968) Review

  1. I’m so happy you watched this and liked it to boot! They don’t make things like this anymore, huh? If they redid this it would be all about how millennials hate their grandparents generation right? Fucking kids. Love it!


    • I did! We like the same thing!! 😁 Yep – if they made this now he’d be all woke by the end or something. He’d certainly not be hitting on his young ex-babysitter. Lol. I’m trying to catch up on comments because I need to switch over to the new WordPress app & I’ll probably mess it up & never be able to post anything or comment on anything ever again. 😭 I’m such a useless old person… 👵🏻

      • It’s funny. This story was written by a guy named John Cheever who is one of my favorite authors. The other night I was watching Seinfeld and George’s wife Susan – Kramer burned her dad’s cabin down but they found a metal box in the rubble and inside it were love letters to him from Cheever. It might not be funny in this comment but I cracked up. “You were having an affair with John Cheever???” LOL

      • Ha! I don’t remember that Seinfeld. I used to watch those like crazy but not seen one episode since moving here. 😭 I’d like to read this short story – I need to have a look for it. 😊


  2. Pingback: Watched, Read, Reviewed: February 2023 | Cinema Parrot Disco

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