The Swimmer (1968) Film Review

The Swimmer
DIRECTOR: Frank Perry
BOTTOM LINE: “The Swimmer” is the most stylized of the three landmark adaptations (this one is from John Cheever’s famous allegorical short story, first published in The New Yorker in1964) that screenwriter Eleanor Perry did in a partnership with her director husband Frank Perry in the late sixties and early seventies. With a near-great performance by Burt Lancaster as the title character who “swims his way home” through his “river” of backyard swimming pools in affluent suburban Connecticut (Lancaster spends the entire film in nothing but swimming trunks) we gradually realize that his epic journey is taking place over a lifetime compressed into a single day.
That the film got finished at all is a minor miracle since, after principal photography was finished Frank Perry was fired by producer Sam Spiegel. Replacing him was Lancaster’s director friend Sydney Pollack. Pollack shot several transitions scenes and replaced several actors in supporting roles, most notably Barbara Loden by Janice Rule. However, although the film is always listed in Pollack’s filmography, Perry got sole directorial credit. Also notable for Marvin Hamlisch’s first score.
POST TITLE: Eleanor Perry: One of the Great Screenwriters
CATEGORY: My Favorites
SUBCATEGORY: Underappreciated
STREAMING: Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+

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