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Swimmer [VHS]
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Product Description

Burt Lancaster gives one of his most daringly complex performances in The Swimmer, a fascinating adaptation of John Cheever's celebrated short story. At first it seems that middle-aged businessman Ned Merrill (Lancaster) is merely enjoying a spontaneous adventure, swimming from pool to pool among the well-tended estates of his affluent Connecticut neighborhood. But as Ned encounters a variety of neighbors, we see from their reactions that Ned's on an entirely different kind of journey--that he is balanced on the edge of some mysterious psychosis that we can't fully understand until the film's final, devastating image. A compelling portrait of loss, refracted memories, and deep-rooted emotional denial, The Swimmer sprung from the same late-'60s soil that yielded similarly ground-breaking literary films like The Graduate and Goodbye, Columbus. It's an egotistical showcase for the physical prowess of its 55-year-old star, but Lancaster turns it into something deeper, more disturbing, and completely unforgettable. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews:

  • You Can't Go Home Again
    ..."and the American Dream is indicted." Huh? Many of the reviewers here seem to have projected their own feelings into this movie. It seems very popular to state that because the characters are wealthy, and it is a tragedy, then, why of course, the American Dream must be indicted. The theme of this movie is not, "the American Dream indicted," but "You can't go home again." This is certainly one of the most thought provoking movies I've ever seen and definitely in my Top 20. The film maker slowly reveals the Ned Merrill's denial of reality as he tries to convince everyone and himself that he still has his job, family, and home. The scene with the empty pool is the most revealing of all the pools. The empty pool is a metaphor for his mental condition. He tells the boy, Kevin Gilmartin, that if you believe in something hard enough it's true for you -- in this case that there is water in the pool. As he leaves he hears the kid on the diving board and thinks the kid is going to dive into the empty pool. So he's worried that he's convinced the kid that by believing in the water that it'll really be there. This reveals that he isn't entirely off his rocker but desperately trying to create his own reality. ...more info
  • That's entertainment!
    This is an interesting premise and Burt Lancaster is as usual, superb. That said, this film is monutmentally depressing, made all the more so by the fact that as things progress they go steadily downhill.

    Add to this schlockmeister supreme Martin HAMlisch's overpowering score and, well, things can't get much grimmer.

    What can I say? Fire up the popcorn and remember things always appear darkest before going entirely black.
    ...more info
  • It's The Water, It's The Water.
    Who says water purifies? Except for the spacey dream sequence with filters and Burt Lancaster asking for one more try, this is an off-beat look at the Mad Avenue guy unravelling with each swim.Burt Lancaster does a bravado job of holding off father time like a bomb ticking to an exploding Psycho-like finish.Catches the swimming pool club-set at their phoniest. If you look closely you will see Joan Rivers,Janet Rule, Diana Muldaur and others. It is still diverting and disturbing in its expose of the backyard boasters before they grew long hair and sold out in pursuit of the American dream.Burt Lancaster clawing to get into his homek,like Atlas, remains with me today.Must be followed by a scotch and soda....more info
  • The Swimmer...
    I saw this movie as a young teenager in the mid 70's. I only saw it once, and it has stuck with me for 30+ years. The ending left me scratching my head - but it conveyed the meaning quite clearly. Nothing was as it seemed - much time had passed - and the world as Burt Lancaster's character - was no more. See it for yourself in order to understand why the majority of people that have reviewed this film think so highly of it! I rate this movie - 5 stars! Kudos to Mr. Lancaster!!...more info
  • An inspired adaptation
    "The Swimmer" is Sidney Pollack's brilliant adaptation of John Cheever's great short story of the same name. Neddy Merrill, perfectly portrayed by past-his-prime Burt Lancaster, is ostensibly a successful businessman and family man. But, as the film progresses, something darker begins to be hinted at, and then begins to emerge. Not all is as it seems in this surreal story. As Neddy makes his way across his suburban world--via his neighbors' swimming pools--the drinking and partying become less pleasant, to say the least. When he (and the viewer) reach the harrowing ending, we realize that the fears and dreads that plague Neddy stem from his denial of his reality.

    Underneath the plot of "The Swimmer" is an allegory about alcoholism. The drinking that goes on in every scene is the comfort that Neddy seeks to conceal his failures and avoid his responsibilities. By the end, we can safely assume that Neddy's alcoholism destroyed his finances and his family, and he just cannot face up to it. Burt Lancaster's performance ranges from the happy-go-lucky, to the completely mystified, to abject fear and pathos. Pollack's understated touch only intensifies Lancaster's performance. This is as important a movie to watch, as the story is to read. ...more info
  • A 55 year old who rocks in a bathing suit!
    My husband couldn't believe that Burt Lancaster stayed in his bathing suit the entire film!!! He laughed out loud! There's something strangely compelling about Lancaster. Even though he was 55 at the time the movie was made he was incredible. He had real star quality.

    Star Trek fans will delight at seeing a very stunning Diana Muldaur. I've always thought she was pretty but to see her in her hey day she'll knock your socks off!!!!! Just stunning. There's also a cameo of Joan Rivers. Watching this movie takes me back to how my parents were before the divorce not unlike Ned.

    I read this short story before I ever knew it was made into a movie. It's about a yuppie gone wrong. This story is just as relevant today as it was when it was made. This movie speaks about materialism, mass consumption and the degeneracy of society.

    The ending leaves you saying "What??" If you like nostalgia this movie's for you....more info
  • Top Notch DVD Release
    The Swimmer is a excellent quality DVD. Remastered in High Definition, Anamorohic Widescreen and Dolby Digital Sound. This is a real treat for fans of Burt Lancaster who have waited for this DVD release. This is the standard by which all DVD's should be measured....more info
  • Swiiiiiiccccee!
    Saw on TV....night. 1st time seein.... the joint.... What up with dat dude Lancaster? . <*}}}{{{>< Movie is hot . Watch it. Take your own adventure. Maybe you'll fin something out about yo'self.

    yes....more info
  • Not bad -- EXISTENTIALLY DREADFUL!
    This movie is so bad; but I mean, so, so, so-so, soooooooooo bad!

    Have you ever been watching a really awful movie and you keep watching it because there's a certain perverse aestheticism to its awfulness. At a certain point, you hope, you suspect, that it might reach the intriguing level of "camp." In short, the movie is, if nothing else, an amusing curiosity, good for a laugh -- terrible though it may be. ... That's not this movie. Nah! ... This movie is truly an abomination.

    Sadly, this movie has as its star one of the greatest actors of all time, Burt Lancaster. I used to think -- before I saw this movie -- that Burt Lancaster could not be in a bad movie simply because his mere presence would make the movie interesting. Alas, not this time, Burt, not this time.

    Well, ok, where to begin? ...

    This movie is an adaption of one of John Cheever's best short stories. So why did the geniuses at Columbia pictures change it? The film adaptation has entire scenes deleted and, worse, characters that weren't in Cheever original story.

    To make matters worse, the screenplay is by the director, Frank Perry, and it's, you guessed it -- awful.

    This movie could have easily turned into a murder mystery, in that there's a scene in which John Cheever himself has a very small part. Why might there have been a murder in the movie, if not in real life? Because in the movie Burt Lancaster and the young girl he meets along the way are meeting and greeting people at a pool party and as Burt starts to turn to John Cheever, I swear, there's this look in Burt's eye, as if to say: "Please, Mr. Cheever, don't shoot me, don't kill me with your bare hands for lousing up your story!"

    As for the "highlight" of the movie, oh, that's easy: it's the scene with Burt Lancaster and Joan Rivers. Yes, that's right, you heard me right, *the* Joan Rivers has a part in this movie. (Note: The movie was made in 1968, so I'll let you figure out how many facelifts ago that was.)

    Joan, plays (are you ready?) a femme fatale. Or, more accurately, a suburban floozy. She has eyes for Burt.

    Speaking of eyes, here's something you have to see to believe. In Burt Lancaster's scene with Joan Rivers there's booger, clearly visible, in Burt's right nostril.

    Now, I'm going to repeat that for the West Coast. ...

    Burt Lancaster, in his scene with Joan Rivers, has a big, round, gray booger in his right nostril.

    And they call Joan Rivers gross!

    Folks, I kid you not. I am as serious as rust on a summer porch in Cape Cod. I played the scene back three times on my DVD player. It's there.
    The booger lives! It's ALIVE!

    Evidently, no one in the production company, saw it. Is that possible? I say, yes, because the people involved in this movie were probably so desperate to be done with the awful mess that they more than likely didn't look at ANY of the movie while they were shooting it!

    It's like when you go to a stomach doctor and he asks you if you want to see up your keister on that little teevee screen he has in the room. Most people demur.

    Now before you assume that the Burt Lancaster-Joan Rivers scene was the worst scene in the movie ... I have even *more* bad news: it wasn't. There were, if you can imagine, far WORSE scenes in the movie.

    For example, there is a very long scene toward the end of the movie with Burt and Janice Rule that is, without doubt, the worst-acted, worst-written, worst-directed, worst-lit, worst-dubbed scene in movie history.

    I read recently that Janice Rule eventually gave up her acting career and became a psychoanalyst. And, by God, this movie may have done it!

    Then, there's the ending. Oy vey, what an ending! At last, we're shown the denouement of the Burt Lancaster character ... and shown the denouement of the Burt Lancaster character. ... and shown the denouement of the Burt Lancaster character. ... Folks, the ending of this movie went on longer than it took Methusela to count his Social Security dough.

    "OK, OK, we get it already!" I yelled at my teevee screen. "Please, have you no sense of decency, at long last? Please, enough already, we get it!"

    And then -- finally -- it was over. And I knew, I knew in my bones that come hell or high water, there was nothing in life that this walking-around biped couldn't face, having survived the existential dread of sitting through ... "The Swimmah"! (And not even a feency-schmancy Swimmah at that.)

    But then I began to think: what about that booger in Burt Lancaster's right nostril? Who'll believe me? They'll think I'm nuts. But it's there, by God, it's there! A big, round, gray one.

    But, listen, if you don't believe me, see for yourself.

    Wait a minute. Wait a cotton-pickin' minute! I get it. I get it. I bet the reason they put this movie out in DVD format is because people just like me will tell their friends and acquaintances, even total stranger: "Hey you've got to see this movie, Burt Lancaster has a big booger in his right nostril. No kidding!" ... I mean, why else would they release this turkey in DVD *except* for that booger?

    Finally, as I write this review, I see that 38 out of 47 reviewers gave this movie either 4 or 5 stars. Okay, okay, I know what you're thinking; this is where he says something like: "How can these people be so dumb?" But no, no-no, that's not my style, friends. I know all too well that my fate in life is to be surrounded by fools & knaves. (King Lear has nothing on this boy.) No, rather, I say to those who've given this turkey 4 or, nay tell, *5* stars ... Go forth and be little in my sight. ...more info
  • A Long Swim Home
    This is a slightly disturbing yet beautifully simple story of a man's slow unnerving return home. Burt Lancaster plays Ned Merril, a seemingly popular socialite amongst the wealthy suburban estates he neighbors. But today he has decided to swim home, going from pool to pool in a metaphorical river back to the home he shares with his wife and two daughters. Along the way he meets people he knows, including a young woman who once baby-sat his kids. But the more he swims, and the closer he gets to home, the more his facade of charm and joviality melts, ultimately revealing something else altogether.
    Lancaster is great in the part. And considering he was a major actor at the time, this is a risky part, one it must be said, he plays in a bathing suit and nothing else. He is also in every scene. The man's eventual deterioration though is dealt with well, slowly building as the audience gets clues as to the possible ills surrounding him and his family. Based on a John Cheever short story, this is an excellent, yet troubling film, one possibly not well known, but featuring a superb performance from Lancaster. ...more info
  • The Swimmer 1968
    THE SWIMMER takes place in an affluent Conneticut suburn and for Ned Merill (Lancaster) its where he contronts all of his dream and deceptions , according to Judith Crist , of the today show . Burt Lancaster (1913-1994) gives the best performance of his carrer , as Ned the troubled suburbaine who one summer morning becomes "Swim" home via the pools of his wealthy friends . Along the way he encounters several women from his past: a tempesteous teenage girl (Janet Landgard 1952- ) teetering at the edge of adollescene and womanhood , his embittered ex-mistress Janice Rule 1931-2003) and the sensual wife of an old friend (Kim Hunter 1922-2002) . Neds journey is one of embarrasments ,humiliation and steamy passion . He Passes from one scenario to another until he arrives home to an empty home..and to a starting self-revelation ! . Yes this movie are kind of weird and odd , but the beauty with this movie are allt the outdore scenes in Connecticut the summer of 1968 , High Quality Digital transfer from origial elements . Recommended ...more info
  • You Won't Forget It
    Don't miss this highly unusual, haunting film. It is truly a product of the late 1960's and some things including the score are dated but also perfectly evoke the time period. Other Amazon reviewers have compared this ambiguous morality tale to an expanded TWILIGHT ZONE episode and the comparison is fair. And again as others have said 55 year old Burt Lancaster looks fantastic in a swimsuit and remember this was filmed in the days before liposuction!...more info
  • Strange Story Of The Shallow & Selfish
    This is one of the more strang movies Ive seen over the years. Then again, portraits of delusional, mentally-ill people tend to be a little different. This, however, is VERY different and is a success because Burt Lancaster plays the the title role so well.

    Lancaster's character, "Neddy," is a man who decides to "swim" home, doing laps in neighbors'pools for several miles until he reaches "home." That's the plot.

    However, the real story is uncovering who and what he is really was in the past. It's also an expose of Yuppie suburban snobbery, something that will never go out of style but is 1960s-ish in this film. It's interesting to see a bunch of familiar actors faces pop up as the various neighbors as Lancaster swims from pool to pool.

    To focus on the shallow neighbors - and they are shallow, vain and pretty revolting - is to miss how "Neddy" is worse than them. Slowly but surely, he is exposed as an adulterer, crook, completely selfish, poor father, etc. etc.

    In the end, we see just how delusional he is, too, completely unable or unwilling to see reality, still living in his dreamworld. Apparently, two years before the scenes in here take place, he booted out of his house by his also-unlikable wife and lost everything...his family, job, you name it.

    Much of this film is dream-like, nicely photographed with some pretty nature shots, particularly the first half which features a young actress, Janet Landgard, who was "introduced" in this film but never did much after this film. She plays Burt's former babysitter and he meets up with her early on and then tries to hit on the pretty 20-year- old, finally scaring her away.

    Landgard has the second-biggest role in the film. The third belongs to Janice Rule, who appears near the end for a long pool-side soap opera scene, the last encounter Burt has until he reaches his destination.

    Overall, it's an unpleasant, haunting tale of shallow people but it's well-done and sure to evoke a number of discussions and interpretations. It's also interesting to view this movie twice, seeing it a second time when you know exactly Lancaster's situation and mental state. This came from a very short story by John Cheever (10-15 pages, depending on the size of the book) so much of the movie and almost all of the dialog, is made up. This is certainly a film you remember.
    ...more info
  • A great Drama...
    A Classic Book ( short Story ) made into a classic movie.

    This is one of those intelligent, thoughtful & disturbing dramas that stays with you such as "Long Days Journey into Night" or " The Pawnbroker".

    There are no Zombies. There are no naked people. There is no gore.

    There is great movie making & superb acting. One of Lancasters best... ...more info
  • Let yourself be surprised
    1968 was the year for a bumper crop of weird movies.
    I am not going to be a spoiler and summarize the movie. Indeed my advice to you if you are interested in watching this movie is try not to read any reviews because to enjoy the full power of the movie you have to let yourself be surprised.
    I will say this. It begins with Burt Lancaster swimming in a swimming pool in an affluent New England town and the film follows him as he swims from one cement swimming pool to the next. Lancaster is brilliant in the movie and the photography is stunning.
    If you enjoy intelligent offbeat movies you will probably enjoy this one.
    ...more info
  • !?!
    HOW CAN I SWIM IN A SWEATER!?!

    you'll be repeating this question to yourself for years to come......more info
  • Last one in is a rotten egg!
    On the surface (no pun intended), "The Swimmer" doesn't look like the sort of movie a diehard horror fan like myself would enjoy. Look at that DVD cover, for instance. Burt Lancaster and Janet Landgard staring dreamily at each other while standing in front of a sun drenched swimming pool. What is this madness? Why would I spend even a second with a film that simply reeks of romantic drama? Well, the DVD cover is as misleading as the beginning scenes of the film contained within. "The Swimmer" is about as far from a romantic melodrama as "Friday the 13th" is from "Meatballs." This 1968 examination of the mental collapse of a member of America's affluent class is a horror lover's dream; a grim, unforgiving film that refuses to pull any punches when the "Twilight Zone" ending unfolds with all of its sinister implications. Sure, no one's head explodes, no one finds himself or herself on the receiving end of a sharp instrument, but that shouldn't preclude the serious shriek cinema aficionado from checking this downbeat picture out and giving it a whirl. "The Swimmer," more than most other films I've seen recently, stays with you long after the final credits roll.

    Ned Merrill (Burt Lancaster), when we first see him, seems like a guy who has it all. A strong, healthy looking fellow with a warm personality and a ready grin, Merrill jogs out of the foliage to banter with a few of his neighbors. Everyone around the pool seems to love this guy even though they claim they haven't seen him in ages. Lots of "hearty fellow well met" dialogue follows as Merrill's friends inquire about his family, his job, and his impressive physique. Ned fires back like pro, cajoling and chuckling with aplomb. After taking a dip in the swimming pool, our hero comes up with a plan. Surveying the Connecticut countryside, he suddenly realizes that it's entirely possible to "swim" home, namely by swimming through all of his neighbors' pools. His friends cackle at such craziness, but Merrill is undeterred. Off he goes on his personal little quest which, when you think about, is a fun idea. What better way to spend a summer day than passing through estate after estate loaded with well manicured lawns, opulent homes, and good company? Every pool Merrill will swim through belongs to people who have known him for years. As we'll soon see, however, this is far from a good thing.

    At first Ned finds his neighbors accommodating and personable, especially when he runs into his daughters' former babysitter lounging poolside with her friends. Julie Hooper (Janet Landgard) is a gorgeous young lady with blonde hair, and she seems quite happy to run into her old boss Ned. She's so happy to see him, in fact, that she agrees to join his mission. The two caper about, running through the forests separating the pools while talking about the good times. They even spend time running around in an old horse stall, leaping over obstacles and generally having a great time. Sadly, Hooper flees after an uncomfortable conversation with Ned in which she reveals she once had a crush on him. Merrill troops on alone, but now things don't go so well. His friends turn cold and distant--some resort to outright hostility when they see him--and very unpleasant information rises to the surface. Dark insinuations hint at Merrill's insolvency in all things financial, personal problems with the wife and kiddies, unemployment, and unpaid debts owed to local businesses. Ned doesn't seem to understand the animus aimed at him, but presses on nonetheless, determined to arrive home in time to play tennis with his young daughters. What will Ned Merrill find when he gets there?

    "The Swimmer" suffers a few flaws, including an incredibly dated score from Marvin Hamlisch and some very cheesy set pieces. For example, check out that huge pool party. Whew! Those dance moves nearly had me clawing my eyes out! But once you get past the idea that you're watching an older film from a time when fashion and music tended to be a little off the wall, you're in for a treat. The best part of the movie is simply trying to discern exactly what happened to Ned Merrill. He committed adultery, if the emotional scene where Ned confronts his embittered former mistress is any indication, and he moved through life like the world owed him something, but what exactly sent him over the edge? For that matter, is he over the edge? Or did something far more sinister occur? Why do all of his neighbors act as though they haven't seen him for ages? Where has he been since his disgrace? One suspects the local nuthouse put out an APB on this guy. "The Swimmer" raises far more questions than it's willing to answer, so if you need a film that lays everything out in the open you should probably look elsewhere. But if you like a film that keeps you guessing, that features a guy and a girl running around a track like a pair of horses, "The Swimmer" should be your cup of tea.

    Some maintain that the movie is an examination of the hollowness of the upper class, and in several respects that assertion contains grains of truth. The wealthy nudists (!) that spurn Ned, the endless parties and the drinking in the middle of the day (don't these people work?), and the attention to material possessions certainly supply plenty of evidence to back up this argument. But I think the movie is more interested in showing us one human being's inability to cope with tragedy than it is in revealing the decadence of a bunch of upper crust grand poobahs. Then again, I could be wrong. Give "The Swimmer" a watch and decide for yourself. Me? I'm putting on my trunks and going out for a dip in the pool!
    ...more info