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The Swimmer


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I think you'll like it. This is not "normal" material, especially for fans of Burt Lancaster - nor Burt himself, I suppose. There is an element of time travel involved, but I still haven't decided whether he is moving through this story physically or mentally. We are taken on what appears to be an actual, physical journey but, in actuality, it may all be in his broken down mind and were just privy to a visual realization.

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This is the first time TCM's shown this movie since May of 2010, but for anyone who's missing it, it's playing again on November 6th. It's quite faithful to the Cheever story, and a far cry from Burt's usual fare. It's a terrific performance on Lancaster's part, and one of the many reasons I think he's one of the finest actors of his or any generation.

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About 45 minutes in, when he injures his ankle, there is a sudden **** in his armor and deterioration sets in rather quickly. I like this transformation as continuing along the same line would be wasteful and, possibly, boring. Also, the seasons are changing - fast. Months.. years may be going by in minutes. That's just what I gather from viewing the film. I haven't read the short story.

 

Everyone he encounters is supposedly in "real time" and he is unaware of his position, either by delusion or flat out denial of his current situation. With each encounter after his foot injury he seems to lose more of his virility, health, stamina, and the blinders begin to loosen and fall away. I'm having as much fun trying to interpret this as watching it.

 

I have no idea what has occurred in his personal life to bring about this situation, other than the clues given at each encounter along the way, but in the end I feel sorry for him.

 

> It's a terrific performance on Lancaster's part, and one of the many reasons I think he's one of the finest actors of his or any generation.

 

I agree. Burt's transformation, physically and mentally, is the crux of

this and he does it so well.

 

What would happen to your mind if everything you believed was suddenly pulled out from under you revealing a stark reality which is diametrically opposed to your reality? That's a mind snapper.

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> Interesting, dark and creepy with that very strange "twist" ending.

 

And everytime he feels unsettled inside he gets a chill. The ending is a twist alright. Earlier according to him his wife Lucinda is at home and his girls are playing tennis...at a home revealed at the end to have fallen into neglect with a broken window even revealing a vacant living room. Apparently Ned Merrill is suffering from long term memory loss and thinks it's 2 years earlier than it really is. That first couple had been wondering where Neddie's been keeping himself. He shoulda let Shirley drive him home. :)

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I thought this was a really interesting movie. Good choice, Mr. Gottfried. My view was that it was a sort-of life review, of the things he wished he did, the things he regrets he didn't do, the consequences of some of his bad or selfish decisions, etc. Almost an awakening to his deadly sins through life. This is the human condition. In the end, we can't go back. If we try, "there's no one there," too late, damage done, and in the end we're all alone no matter who we are. I thought it was a powerful movie. His personal "laps" through life, this was his journey, and the results. Wow. Strong stuff. Loved it. Burt's terrific!

 

Edited by: thejaggedcat on Oct 31, 2013 12:16 AM

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Yes, two of Gottfried's selections I particularly like: "The Swimmer" and "The Conversation."

 

Even remember the first time I watched "The Swimmer."

It was aired on TV (not sure the channel? Could have been TVO??) and I was a teenager. Back in late 1970s? Watched it at home one night...

 

Then it was aired again on TVOntario's "Saturday Night at the Movies" in 2005. Made the "SNAM" list of top 50 films aired by them at #36:

http://snam.tvo.org/blog/saturday-night-movies-blog/final-saturday-night-movies-blog

 

"The Conversation" makes it at #25 on the same list linked to above.

States that it was first aired in 2002 on "SNAM," but the list is only from 1998 and I believe I saw both "The Conversation" and "The Swimmer" aired on "SNAM" prior to 1998 ("SNAM" began airing films in 1974)...

I've seen "The Conversation" many times, anyway. As I have "The Swimmer."

 

Both good films... Thanks Mr. Gottfried.

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>Sepiatone said: Proof again that not ALL movies are for EVERYONE.

>

>Couldn't get into it. Went elsewhere after a half hour.

 

Oh, man.. you hung up too soon. About 45 min into it is when things begin to happen - turn dark. Everything starts out all sunshiney then goes downhill quickly at about the 45 min mark.

 

I don't blame you for bugging out in the first 30 min. If I hadn't already seen the last half before, I would have done the same.

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I hadn't seen this film in quite awhile. When I saw it the first time years ago on one of the networks, I found it pretentious and too "arty", but I've changed my opinion over the years. The film flopped badly when released and I remember there were a lot of production problems involved making it (which they touched on a bit in the wraparound). I think the sequence with Janice Rule was added after production had wrapped and was directed by someone else. A lot of veteran/character actors in bit/cameo parts throughout the story. (I always crack up seeing Madge the Palmolive Lady-Jan Miner- in her bit). I think Lancaster is outstanding (and in fantastic shape for his age).....Had the film gone over better, he could have received an Oscar nomination. He was certainly deserving of one. He had a lot of difficult dialogue to put over (for a film) and did it so well. The film really captures Cheever's view of suburbia.........

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*A lot of veteran/character actors in bit/cameo parts throughout the story. (I always crack up seeing Madge the Palmolive Lady-Jan Miner- in her bit).*

 

Madge's husband in the film was another veteran of commercials. Here he (Bill Fiore) is with Louise Lasser in a commercial narrated by Lloyd Nolan:

 

 

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> think you'll like it. This is not "normal" material, especially for fans of Burt Lancaster - nor Burt himself, I suppose. There is an element of time travel involved, but I still haven't decided whether he is moving through this story physically or mentally. We are taken on what appears to be an actual, physical journey but, in actuality, it may all be in his broken down mind and were just privy to a visual realization.

 

Yes, and it is probably the reason it did not do well in theatres. 1968 audiences probably assumed the story was occurring in real time. :)

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Or maybe the time-leap occurred at the public pool. Neddie seemed most disconcerted with people's reaction to him and his view of his own daughters. So the Janice Rule scene was filmed last huh? Somebody somewhere lost sight of this thing's uh...story flow lol :) Shoulda never been released to theatres with such a twilight zone-ish ending. No wonder it round up on *The CBS Late Movie*. LOL!

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