Down 267 this week

The Swimmer (1968)

Approved  |   |  Drama  |  15 May 1968 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.7/10 from 5,895 users  
Reviews: 123 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 »


, (uncredited)


(screenplay), (story)
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video


TV Spotlight: The Top 10 Episodes of "The Walking Dead"

We've curated a list of the top 10 episodes of "The Walking Dead" according to the IMDb user ratings.

Read More

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 38 titles
created 02 Nov 2011
a list of 43 titles
created 28 Apr 2012
a list of 42 titles
created 18 Aug 2013
a list of 33 titles
created 12 Apr 2014
a list of 22 titles
created 04 Jul 2014

Related Items

Search for "The Swimmer" on

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: The Swimmer (1968)

The Swimmer (1968) on IMDb 7.7/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of The Swimmer.



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A documentary about the making of the cult film The Swimmer (1968).

Director: Chris Innis
Stars: Michael Hertzberg, Ted Zachary, Bob Horn
Elmer Gantry (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A fast-talking traveling salesman with a charming, loquacious manner convinces a sincere evangelist that he can be an effective preacher for her cause.

Director: Richard Brooks
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Jean Simmons, Arthur Kennedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

The emotional story of a young man in a mental institution for teens who begins to understand his psychosis in the environment of others with mental and emotional problems. He finds ... See full summary »

Director: Frank Perry
Stars: Keir Dullea, Janet Margolin, Howard Da Silva
Drama | Romance | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

United States military leaders plot to overthrow the President because he supports a nuclear disarmament treaty and they fear a Soviet sneak attack.

Director: John Frankenheimer
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Fredric March
Atlantic City (1980)
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

In a corrupt city, a small-time gangster and the estranged wife of a pot dealer finds themselves thrown together in an escapade of love, money, drugs, and danger.

Director: Louis Malle
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Susan Sarandon, Kate Reid
The Train (1964)
Thriller | War | Action
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

In 1944, a German colonel loads a train with French art treasures to send to Germany. The Resistance must stop it without damaging the cargo.

Directors: John Frankenheimer, Arthur Penn
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Paul Scofield, Jeanne Moreau
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

In 1941 Hawaii, a private is cruelly punished for not boxing on his unit's team, while his captain's wife and second in command are falling in love.

Director: Fred Zinnemann
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr
Action | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

During the early 1960s, U.S. military advisers in South Vietnam discover the same challenges that plagued the French army in Indochina ten years prior.

Director: Ted Post
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Craig Wasson, Jonathan Goldsmith
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A surly convicted murderer held in permanent isolation redeems himself when he becomes a renowned bird expert.

Directors: John Frankenheimer, Charles Crichton
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Karl Malden, Thelma Ritter
Action | Adventure | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

An arrogant Texas millionaire hires four adventurers to rescue his kidnapped wife from a notorious Mexican bandit.

Director: Richard Brooks
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan
Certificate: M Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The lives of a disparate group of contestants intertwine in an inhumanely grueling dance marathon.

Director: Sydney Pollack
Stars: Jane Fonda, Michael Sarrazin, Susannah York
The Leopard (1963)
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

The Prince of Salina, a noble aristocrat of impeccable integrity, tries to preserve his family and class amid the tumultuous social upheavals of 1860's Sicily.

Director: Luchino Visconti
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon, Claudia Cardinale


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 ...
House Jameson ...
Mr. Halloran
Jimmy Joyce ...
Jack Finney
Michael Kearney ...
Kevin Gilmartin


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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 »




Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

15 May 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Schwimmer  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The source short story by John Cheever that has a length of just a dozen pages was written from a manuscript of notes that totaled 150 pages. See more »


Julie's hair goes from brushed to windblown and back again several times in the same sequence. See more »


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


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


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

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

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?

33 of 47 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Burt Lancaster's looks and build. east215
God Awful Hamlisch Soundtrack wrose-3
Where did Ned come from? mike-2620
This film is so underrated TheGreatApplesauceCaper
What happened to ‘The Swimmer’ 2004 re-make with Alec Baldwin? john_s_wales
Film compared to original Cheever story mackjay2
Discuss The Swimmer (1968) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: