The Swimmer (1968) Burt Lancaster’s Swimming Trunk Odyssey


Oh my! when a film hits this good you just can’t stop thinking about it. From going to bed till as soon as I woke up, actually I was probably dreaming about it. Not sure how this one passed me by but so happy it did as I immersed myself completely in the visuals and dialogue.  Even got in the spirit of things and watched it with my swimming hat and goggles, you got off lightly as I could have been sitting there in my skimpy speedos!


I swam along with Ned to keep him company

Burt Lancaster plays Neddy Merrill a guy who loves prancing around in his shorts and chatting to the upper class residents of his suburban neighborhood. Jumping in the pool, having a quick drink and a chinwag before jogging off to the next house. Throughout his journey is a series of interactions where pieces of the story join together to make the puzzle.

Tagline – When you talk about “The Swimmer” will you talk about yourself?


Hey start the journey with a little flirting

Imagery of tiny flashbacks and little words drop in here and there with exquisite colours and soft focus blends to fill the picture with nostalgia.

Ned "what a day! Ever see such a glorious day?"

I found the movie imprinted on my soul in much the same way as one of my favorites Frankenheimer’sSeconds” did. Both sit very well together.

I don’t wish to say anything about the film in general as I will leave that for your own conclusion. It’s one of those stories that each person will have a different reflection on when it finishes. A personal journey.  Roger Ebert’s original review from the release date is linked in further reading at the bottom of the page. I agree with his whole review but I recommend you are best reading it after you have seen it.


Human horses

The story is based on the 1964 short story “The Swimmer” by John Cheever and is made by husband and wife pairing Frank Perry (Director) and Eleanor Perry (Screenplay adaptation). More movies by these two will be coming soon as I watch them, they sound like a dream team.


John Cheever’s short story of The Swimmer is read by Anne Enright on The New Yorker podcast. I will be listening this week.

Also a documentary called The Story Of The Swimmer by Chris Innis was added to the Grindhouse Blu-ray release and I read features lots of insight from the surviving production and acting cast.



Hey Burt do you want to swim in my River?

Fun Fact – The comedian with the very apt name Joan Rivers has her debut speaking role in this film.

Further Reading Links

The New Yorker Podcast Reading Of The Short Story
The Swimmer IMDB
The Swimmer WIKI 
Roger Ebert Review 

7 thoughts on “The Swimmer (1968) Burt Lancaster’s Swimming Trunk Odyssey

  1. Oh my indeed! How powerful this movie was. No wonder you probably dreamed about it, cause it started as a brilliant idea, but … ok, no spoiler alerts for other readers 🙂 Thank you, thank you Wolfy for this one. No I can go to sleep and let’s see what dreams I’ll have. But the sunny parts were so tasty. Swimming was so tasty.

    Liked by 1 person

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