The Swimmer

1968, Drama, 1h 34m

23 Reviews 2,500+ Ratings

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Movie Info

Well-off ad man Ned Merrill (Burt Lancaster) is visiting a friend when he notices the abundance of backyard pools that populate their upscale suburb. Ned suddenly decides that he'd like to travel the eight miles back to his own home by simply swimming across every pool in town. Soon, Ned's journey becomes harrowing; at each house, he is somehow confronted with a reminder of his romantic, domestic and economic failures, until a final visit with an old flame (Janice Rule) leaves him devastated.

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Critic Reviews for The Swimmer

Audience Reviews for The Swimmer

  • Nov 20, 2021
    A fascinating amalgamation of seemingly disparate elements (the overwrought score, the surreal style, Lancaster's grounded performance) that nonetheless work together to create an entirely unique viewing experience.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Nov 30, 2015
    A buff Burt Lancaster is nearly naked the whole film as a upscale businessman swimming through the pools of his neighbors in a circuitous route home one evening. I wouldn't watch this for years as I took it merely as a Lancaster vanity project, but now I guess I'm old enough to see that that actually plays an important part in the story, his vanity, undercutting what is seen versus what is real. There's a Twilight Zone twist telegraphed throughout, but nonetheless its a cool piece about the difference between who we think we are and who we are in fact.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • May 06, 2014
    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.
    Greg S Super Reviewer
  • Nov 15, 2013
    The Swimmer is an extraordinary bit of a cinema that for some reason does not get a lot of airplay. Lancaster is at his best as a person who has conveniently forgotten about his recent past and interacts with those who love and hate him as he swims through suburban pools on his way home. Gripping.
    John B Super Reviewer

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