The Swimmer (1968 Burt Lancaster movie--WARNING: Spoiler)

Last night I saw this movie on TCM, in which Lancaster plays an advertising executive who has recently lost his job, and is on a mission to “swim across the county” in which he lives. His idea is to just go from back yard to back yard, swimming his way along in people’s private swimming pools, until he reaches his own house. He’s doing this in nothing but a Speedo, doesn’t even carry a towel. As he goes along from house to house, he is received less and less cordially. Finally he does get to his own house, and by this time it’s raining. We last see him trying to break into his house, which is locked. Inside the house, we see the door handle turning as he tries to work it on the other side; the house looks empty and abandoned.

Now here’s my question. I didn’t see the beginning of the movie, so what exactly is happening here? Did he escape from a mental institution? BEcause by the end of the movie you get the idea that he’s not really all there. The house looks like what he described earlier in the film, but it’s obvious no one has lived there in a long time; much less playing tennis that very day, as he claimed his daughters were doing.

Who can fill me in on the beginning of this picture?

Here is from a post on IMDB

It explains a lot

Ned Merrill (Lancaster) is an affluent Connecticut businessman enjoying a poolside visit with some old friends. Out of the blue it dawns on him that every house between his friends’ home and his own has a swimming pool. He will therefore swim his way home, stopping at every pool along the way for a dip. He is unable to explain why he is so determined to do this, but it becomes his mission and he cannot rest or linger until it is carried out.

Each residence Merrill visits brings back old memories of his own wrongdoings and shortcomings. He has not lived a virtuous life. He has cheated on his wife, snubbed his friends, and lived above his means. Everything has come easily to him because of his ability to make people like him and comply with his wishes. In short, he has spent his entire life BS-ing all those close to him, and is just now discovering that the love and respect he believed others had for him does not exist. As he gets closer and closer to his own home the resentment grows stronger, until he finally learns he is detested most of all by his own wife and children.

`The Swimmer’ is partially a story of retribution – what goes around comes around. Merrill is mocked by those he tries to aid and comfort, and all his kindness is met with indifference and scorn. It is partially an allegory – it hurts most when it hits close to home. However, it is mainly a study of a misspent life, discovered as such too late in the game to amend. At the center of the movie is Lancaster’s captivating performance, depicting all the pathos of a man desperately keeping up a front to hide his complete lack of character. The film is marred only by occasional grandiosity, as in an overlong and unnecessary slow-motion sequence and especially in the ending, which indeed packs a punch but upon reflection is too pretentious for its own good. Nonetheless, this is a powerful and often surreal story, the likes of which you will probably never see again on film.

Some midlifers buy a Corvette or get a facelift…this guy decided to swim in all his friends pools. Goofy, but original

BTW, did you happen to catch the fleeting glimpse of a young Joan Rivers in an uncharacteriscally serious role?

And what was the deal with the nudie rich folks?

its based on a very good cheever short story of the same name. give it a read.