“You see, if you make believe hard enough that something is true, then it is true for you.” A devastating portrayal of suburban angst and the failure of the American Dream, The Swimmer was based on a 1964 short story by John Cheever and features a brilliant performance by Burt Lancaster as “Ned Merrill,” a middle-aged Connecticut suburbanite who seemingly appears out of nowhere one summer day and decides to “swim” home using the backyard pools of his affluent neighbors. During the surrealistic journey from pool to pool, Merrill is forced to examine his past failures through increasingly hostile confrontations with various acquaintances. Directed by Frank Perry (Last Summer) and scripted by his wife Eleanor, The Swimmer was a box-office disaster but has enjoyed a cult following over the years. Sydney Pollack reportedly directed the scene where Merrill visits his ex-mistress (Janice Rule). The supporting cast includes Kim Hunter, Dolph Sweet, Bernie Hamilton, Marge Champion, Diana Muldaur, Janet Landgard and Joan Rivers (in her film debut). Also look for John Garfield Jr., who appears briefly as the “Ticket Seller” at the public pool.
Useless Trivia: The Swimmer was the first feature film score of Marvin Hamlisch, who was just 24 years old at the time.