This here is a guest post from my blogging buddy The IPC over at Isaacs Picture Conclusions. Be sure and check him out in his natural habitat where you can always find, as he says, “An Honest Review from an Honest Guy (who doesn’t take things too seriously)”!
The first time I ever saw The Swimmer I had no idea what any of this was about and I was living by myself and spending my time embraced in a gloomy state of melancholy. There was something about this that just resonated with me for some reason that was not: what is this weird 60s movie about a middle aged dude in only some short, way-too-tight swim trunks “swimming his way home” through his rich friends’ back yard swimming pools. Now that it’s been twenty years and I’m (obviously) much older, I can see what this is all about – nostalgia and sadness for the things that you lost and the realization that the life you once had is no longer there and you’re not going to live happily ever after, after all, you poor, sorry bastard. It’s been a couple of years since I read the short story this is based on, but I don’t remember it being as “robust” as the movie – this movie that I really like now more than I used to since I kind of “get it”. This is totally not a horror movie but more of a psychological drama of a man who is either hopelessly insane or suffering from some sort of mental illness realizing that life has passed him by.
The beginning and ending are both open ended to keep you thinking about what happened to this guy, where has he been and just what the hell’s going on anyway and I think that’s part of the beauty of this under appreciated bad boy. Now, before you go spend your money on this, it should be noted that this is a 60s movie and things sure have changed. Like – if I made a movie and had a middle aged man in swim trunks running around a horse training pen with a teenage girl in a two piece in slow motion to the sounds of an orchestra, that might not resonate with today’s demographic. Or “play swimming” in an empty pool with a little kid. Or nudists doing their bills out on the back lawn. Or drinking in the morning. Or swimming in the most crowded public pool ever. Or considering the concept of having the lead spend his entire time in a very small bathing suit narrowly avoiding exposing his junk. But, all kidding aside, they don’t make movies like this any more. Literally.
So, Burt Lancaster and most of his bared body is Ned Merrill who, to start things off, appears jogging through the woods (barefoot) and jumps into a swimming pool. He swims around all happy and sunny and hops out to have a cocktail with his neighbors. They ask where he’s been and he says “here and there” and apparently he’s been gone a long time. He fails to remember certain things, his friends and neighbors cast curious eyes behind his back about what he says and he constantly refers to “getting home” and “his money” which is made very clear that he has neither of those. At first he’s welcomed back and as he starts to realize what may or may not be happening, he is greeted by less than friendly folks until he eventually makes his way home.
And that’s the end – what’s happened? This is where you think about this for a few days and draw your own conclusions. I’m sure this isn’t for everyone, or very many people for that matter but I’ve always liked it. Some notable appearances from people you might remember: Dolph Sweet from “Gimme a Break” and Joan Rivers before she was JOOOOOOOOAN RIVERS.