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The Swimmer (1968)

Approved  |   |  Drama  |  15 May 1968 (USA)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 5,377 users  
Reviews: 121 user | 72 critic

Neddy Merrill has been away for most of the Summer. He reappears at a friends pool. As they talk, someone notices that there are pools spanning the entire valley. He decided to jog from ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Janet Landgard ...
Julie Hooper
...
Shirley Abbott
Tony Bickley ...
Donald Westerhazy
...
Peggy Forsburgh
Nancy Cushman ...
Mrs. Halloran
Bill Fiore ...
Howie Hunsacker
David Garfield ...
Ticket Seller (as John Garfield Jr.)
...
Betty Graham
Rose Gregorio ...
Sylvia Finney
Charles Drake ...
Bernie Hamilton ...
Chauffeur
House Jameson ...
Mr. Halloran
Jimmy Joyce ...
Jack Finney
Michael Kearney ...
Kevin Gilmartin
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Storyline

Neddy Merrill has been away for most of the Summer. He reappears at a friends pool. As they talk, someone notices that there are pools spanning the entire valley. He decided to jog from pool to pool to swim the whole valley. As he stops in each pool his interactions tell his life story. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The famed John Cheever short story appeared in the New Yorker and people talked. Now there will be talk again. When you sense this man's vibrations and share his colossal hang-up . . . will you see someone you know, or love? When you feel the body-blow power of his broken dreams, will it reach you deep inside, where it hurts? When you talk about "The Swimmer" will you talk about yourself? See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

15 May 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Schwimmer  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Star Burt Lancaster worked out continuously throughout the production of the film to maintain a high level of fitness. Lancaster did numerous push-ups and sit-ups every morning before each shoot to stay lean and solid. He gained twenty pounds of muscle by doing weights, running, karate and aerobics. See more »

Goofs

When Ned and Julie are walking through the field, they both comment on the flowers visible, calling them marigolds and stating they usually aren't in bloom at that time of year. The flowers are Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia), not marigolds. If they were marigolds, in Connecticut they would be in bloom during the summer and early fall just as the Black-eyed Susans. Further, as marigolds are annuals that have to be planted each year, It is highly unlikely that would be found growing wild in a field. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Donald Westerhazy: Where have you been keeping yourself?
Ned Merrill: Oh, here and there. Here and there.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Story of the Swimmer (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Send for Me in Summer
(Theme from 'The Swimmer')
by Marvin Hamlisch
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The American nightmare!
4 February 2007 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

What can you say about the swimmer that hasn't already been said. On reflection you have to feel sorry for Ned Merrill, certainly you can't have any sympathy for any of the characters he meets on his way! If he has suffered some sort of mental breakdown the question is why? This movie was set in the civilized environment of New England, Connecticut to be precise and it highlights the cozy drinks around the swimming pool and lavish dinner party Scean that is part and parcel of American culture.

It's perplexing to me that people would put so much expenditure and effort in putting in a pool something that you can only use in New England for about 5-6 months of the year. (Although in the Bizwangers case they added a sliding roof whereby at least they could use the pool all year round!) However the real reason for a pool in New England is to have your friends around, show off your pool and drink and eat to excess. However you can't be satisfied with that, in addition you have to have a pig roast with professional caterers and bar tenders to boot with a band playing in the back ground, thats real living. Material possessions are not just something to show off but are part of what is required to achieve status, without status in the US you have achieved nothing.

So how did Ned Merrill find himself in this predicament? In a conversation with Julie Ann Hooper he recalls that while on a transatlantic ship down in steerage he saw his wife to be, up in first class, he climbed over the barriers wooed her with his charm and that was the beginning of a whirlwind romance. So Ned Merrill found the inside track to achieve high social status. Next comes the huge wedding no expense spared, the grand house and soon the family. Status is not just 6 figure salary, but the house, the cars, the family, the job, throwing wild parties and being a member of an influential committee that's doing charity work. That's not it, being seen at $10000 plate political fund raisers, being a church deacon and basically rubbing shoulders with the movers and shakers in your suburban community is a requirement. At one scene at the Graham's Betty says to her husband "I wish we couldm travel more!" A bemused looking Howard says" why we have everything we want right here? That just sums up the attitude that the whole world evolves around their neighborhood. It epitomizes the culture of contentment and it's world of self importance.

Yet Ned Merills found to his cost that when his wife left him, or threw him out he found that everything else became very imbalanced and just like a house of cards once one falls the rest all comes down. Well you can figure out all of the sordid scenarios in sequence, many reviewers have tried but the bottom line is that your life and status can nose-dive into a downward spiral with marriage and work upheaval i.e. friends suddenly don't return calls, invitations to regular events don't turn up but worse you find that you are tapped of favors from colleagues and employment prospects start to very look bleak.

For people who live in such circles this must be their worst nightmare because you lose one you can lose it all. How do you adjust to such a dramatic change! In Ned Merrills case he became so obsessed in pursuing his American dream and totally absorbed in what he regarded as important that he fell into a state of self-propelling delusion.

Shallow, selfish people who put so much emphasis on status and material possessions as a sign of success find it hard to cope with such misfortunes . Why didn't Neddy just pack his bags and move to the west coast and start again? He can't, partly because of his pride and the fact that he was handed a lot probably makes it all the more harder. But the answer to the question is that he was conditioned to believe in a certain way and that without all of the above he was nothing, and he can't accept it?

All in all Ned Merill made things worse for himself, nothing to fall back on, nothing for a rainy day,no safe deposit box full of gold Krugerrands or cash. He threw everything into his lifestyle took himself too seriously and found very little sympathy from former friends, colleagues and acquaintances when the tide turned! Burt Lancaster was proud of this movie and so he should. His performance is very believable, he exuded confidence, happiness and the American spirit. Interestingly at the beginning of the movie he in no way portrayed a middle aged man on skid row which makes the ending even more disturbing when you see the state of him at the end. It could happen to the best of us, Was this what Cheever was trying to portray?


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