The Swimmer (1968)

Article 2185 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-10-2007
Posting Date: 8-6-2007
Directed by Frank Perry
Featuring Burt Lancaster, Janet Landgard, Janice Rule

A man decides that there are enough swimming pools between him and his home so that he can swim across the county to his home, so he decides to do so. He is forced to face the demons of his past along the way.

The trailer for this film asks the question “When you talk about THE SWIMMER, will you talk about yourself?” Obviously, someone felt that this movie was such a powerful and universal experience that it would touch the nerves of all who saw it. And, given its rating of 7.6 on IMDB, it must have touched quite a few people in this way. Still, my answer to the trailer’s question is going to be no; I’m first going to talk about “The Motion Picture Guide”, that multi-volume movie reference set that came out in the mid-eighties that classifies this experimental drama as a fantasy. Yes, it’s got a bizarre premise, but it’s hardly a fantastic one, and the movie doesn’t try to paint it as such. In short, I consider this movie misclassified, and fantasy fans will find nothing here to satisfy them.

On its own terms, I’m afraid I’m not as taken with this movie as some others. Burt Lancaster does a fine job, and for a man in his late fifties, he was still in good enough shape to handle the physical demands of the role as well as spending the entire running length of the movie in a swimsuit. There is also some depth to the movie, and there are a few amusing moments, including his encounter with some nudists. But aside from him, I found the acting fairly uneven, and the extended metaphor that drives the movie just didn’t fascinate me enough to raise the movie above the level of pretentious for me. I put this in the category of non-genre oddities.



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