Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Forgotten Movies: THE SWIMMER




I have talked about this movie before in some context but here it comes again.
In 1968, Frank Perry took a great John Cheever story and made a terrific film. It is the story of a man, living in suburban Connecticut, who comes up with the idea he can swim from pool to pool in his neighborhood, finally arriving home. The element of time in this movie makes it especially interesting. The time of year, the state of the swimmer, the time of life, changes that occur as he makes his swim. Only Burt Lancaster could look so fetching in his late fifties. An amazing little film. One of my favorite small films for sure.

I bet Todd Mason has some other links for you.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen this since I saw it in the movies during its original run. It was many years later before I read the Cheever story.

I don't think you can ever go totally wrong with Burt Lancaster.

Jeff M.

Bill Crider said...

Good choice. I like the story a lot, too.

pattinase (abbott) said...

It manages to be real and surreal at the same time. And no, Lancaster is a favorite of mine.

George said...

Many of John Cheever's stories flirted with the Real and the Surreal. And, even in his novels, Cheever could blend Reality into strange shapes. FALCONER is a favorite.

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - This is one I've never seen actually, 'though I've heard of the story. Interesting...

pattinase (abbott) said...

FALCONER is a candidate for a forgotten book, George. I remember the excitement when it came out. Like a Eugenides or a Frantzen book now.

Todd Mason said...

Considerably more than that, I hope, Patti...considering that Cheever was a vastly better writer than Frantzen is.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Hi Patti, this movie is a real favourite of mine - really feels like a paen to the end of the sixties and an end to an era - an autumnal movie in every sense!

Apparently that great 10-minute sequence towards the end with Janice Rule was actually directed by Sydney Pollack.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have to say that is the best 10 minutes. Wonder why Perry turned over the reins.
Yes, he was better but the fuss over a new book was similar.

John Kenyon said...

Great film. Saw this years ago on the recommendation of a friend, and then picked up that classic red-covered collection of Cheever's stories. I was amazed at what he was able to pack into a short story (and conversely, what the filmmaker was able to extrapolate for a feature-length film). One of the first times that it clicked for me how powerful a well-rendered short story can be.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Hope you have read THE ENORMOUS RADIO, which is my favorite and one I have often wondered how I could steal.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

The scene with Rule had originally been shot by Perry, but with Barbara Loden in the role - it was decided to re-shoot with the new actress and Pollack was brought in to handle it as apparently perry didn;t agree with the re-casting.

Mike Wilkerson said...

Good movie, great story.

I finished Blake Bailey's 'Cheever: A Life' late last year. Very good and like Bailey's work on Richard Yates, very in depth.

Reading about the man made me want to read his work which I hadn't done up to that point. Good retrospective of his stories in there, also.

Charles Gramlich said...

I try not to watch scenes of men's nude asses before breakfast time. :)

pattinase (abbott) said...

Read both, Mike. Yates was about the saddest guy I ever read about.
Have you read the Carver bio. That was good doo.
Sorry, Charles. I thought it was just fine.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Yates's life was just a mess. Carver certainly had issues as well. I've read a lot of their work but only a little of Cheever's to date.

I knew Janice Rule became a shrink in later years but I guess I missed it that she died in 2003,

Jeff M.

John McFetridge said...

Yeah, and that ending, pretty shocking.

I'm actually looking forward to the HBO adaptation of The Corrections.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Hadn't heard about it.

Mike Wilkerson said...

The Yates bio was the massive car wreck you just couldn't look away from.

Another sad bio is Ross Macdonald's. Such a great writer succumbing to Alzheimer's...heartbreaking.

Have the Carver bio, just haven't read it yet. I've read Jim Thompson's recently and am currently reading Capote's. Capote had "it"- real star power.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I think I read MacDonald's years ago. I also have the Harper Lee one. I have a habit of reading half of it (like I just did with Pauline Kael) and then putting it aside.
Depression, alcoholism, mental illness of some kind. It's part of the genetic code for writers.

Richard S. Wheeler said...

Burt Lancaster was one mean SOB. He broke Margot Kidder's jaw while filming in Mexico (she played his daughter), and she had to be transported a vast distance for medical help. She was told that if she sued him or the studio, her career was over.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I've heard such things about him before. So many actors turn out to be SOBs. It does affect your enjoyment of their roles.

Ron Scheer said...

Would be interested in the Yates bio. His fiction is so real and so grim. Cheever comes across as Yates Light...Great film, BTW.

Deb said...

Perhaps a future single-topic FFB can be on auto/biographies of writers.

P.S. Don't know if it was you or Blogger who got rid of the black background on some of the letters in the word verf, but whoever it was, my old eyes thank you.

John said...

My favorite scene in this movie is the one where he "swims" the empty pool with the little boy. The soul of the movie is in that scene.

I second Deb's FFB idea about writer bio/memoir books.

Jack Bates said...

I always think I'm the only who has ever seen this movie. I'll bring it up and people stare at me. The ending still haunts me.

pattinase (abbott) said...

It actually scared me.