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Friday, November 6, 2015

The Swimmer (1968)

Set in the upscale suburbs of Connecticut, an older but athletic man (Burt Lancaster) decides to swim his way home by way of the various swimming pools along the way. But as his journey progresses, we begin to suspect that something is terribly wrong. Based on a short story by John Cheever (originally published in the New Yorker), adapted for the screen by Eleanor Perry and directed by her spouse, Frank Perry (MOMMIE DEAREST). The film had a troubled history, friction between Lancaster and director Perry, actress Barbara Loden being replaced by Janice Rule and Sydney Pollack brought in to direct her scenes and it was rather unenthusiastically received when released. It has since been reappraised and admired by contemporary critical factions and has a strong cult following. The film is a very nice cinematic approximation of a good short story and it doesn't overplay its hand when it comes to the film's stylized, almost surreal evocation. Outside of Janice Rule and Janet Landgard, the other parts are brief and it's a tribute to the solid actors that some of them are able to make an impression in so short a time. Lancaster is in every scene and it's one of his very best performances. The memorable score is by Marvin Hamlisch. The large cast includes Kim Hunter, Joan Rivers, Charles Drake, Marge Champion, Diana Muldaur, Cornelia Otis Skinner, Dolph Sweet, Louise Troy, Bernie Hamilton, Jan Miner and Rose Gregorio

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