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The Swimmer (1968)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 4
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 0



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Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 2,877

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Movie Info

John Cheever's "misery in suburbia" short stories, brief and to the point, have always proven excellent TV fodder. Director Frank Perry's The Swimmer, adapted for the screen by Perry's wife Eleanor, is a rare, and for the most part successful, attempt at offering a Cheever story in feature-length form. Dressed only in swimming trunks throughout the film, Burt Lancaster plays a wealthy, middle-aged advertising man, embarked on a long and revelatory journey through suburban Connecticut. Lancaster


Drama, Classics

John Cheever, Eleanor Perry

Apr 29, 2003

Columbia Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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July 7, 2006:
Wassup, Larry Clark? Director Talks Teens and Breaking Bones
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All Critics (22) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (21) | Rotten (0) | DVD (8)

A resounding commercial flop, this has since been recognized as a signature 60s film, prescient in its view of American self-deception.

October 30, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A largely loony but oddly compulsive allegory.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

As do few movies, The Swimmer stays in the memory like an echo that never quite disappears.

May 9, 2005 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
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Burt Lancaster is superb in his finest performance.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A woefully forgotten gem from the 1960s ... a penetrating piece of introspection that was clearly ahead of its time.

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

As effectively as almost any movie ever made about American suburbia, The Swimmer gets the contentment that comes with material success[...] And it gets how the fantasy is hard to sustain.

April 1, 2014 Full Review Source: The Dissolve
The Dissolve

Beautifully shot and executed, the effort is generous with disturbing, puzzling behavior, yet wise enough to provide clear clues to aid interpretation.

March 24, 2014 Full Review Source:

Frequently silly but oddly memorable and unsettling.

October 30, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Ned Merrill is a tragic hero for the '60s, and it's one of Lancaster's most searing performances.

October 11, 2005 Full Review Source:

An enigmatic, poetic, disturbing, interestingly pretentious fable.

June 1, 2003 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

A mannerist, moody and wonderfully strange allegory of the squandered American Dream. Like a plunge into the deep end, it stings and refreshes.

May 24, 2003 Full Review Source: Film4

Like a series of hammer-blows to the gut.

October 8, 2001 Full Review Source:

Director Frank Perry's cult favorite

January 1, 2000 Full Review

Audience Reviews for The Swimmer

The Swimmer rules. God bless Connecticut and Fairfield County.
February 13, 2010

Super Reviewer

Observing that all his neighbors have swimming pools, an indefatigably cheerful man out for a morning jog decides to "swim" his way home; at each stop he talks to a new neighbor, slowly painting a picture of his life. Based on a John Cheever short story, this odd concept works surprisingly well as both a suburban satire and (thanks to an excellent performance by Burt Lancaster) a touching character study of a man who doesn't realize the American dream has passed him by.
May 9, 2014
Greg S

Super Reviewer

A magnetic parable that pulverizes the american dream.
Burt Lancaster plays a character engulfed by existential grief, trying to reach his own paradise lost. He decides that his burden will end when he swims his way home through every of his neighbors' pools, finding fragments and glimpses of his obscure past.
Though a bit dated, it certainly has a huge space of inner meditation and also gives a hard and well-aimed blow to american society the way 'American Beauty' did some decades later.
It also anticipated the arrival of 70s cinema and its complex and disenchanting themes.
Lancaster's performance stands out, as well as the final scene.
July 4, 2011

Super Reviewer

an offbeat, even absurd suburban drama that sees burt lancaster fighting to preserve his illusions while swimming home through his neighbor's pools. burt is the force that holds this film together. a little dated but also well ahead of it's time
February 8, 2010
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

    1. Ned: Here's to the sugar on the strawberries.
    – Submitted by Marc C (13 months ago)
View all quotes (1)

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