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Askew Review 15

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. DVD. 1968. Drama. 94 minutes. Rated PG. Ned Merrill (Burt Lancaster), a seemingly energetic and popular middle-aged man, devises a sudden plan to swim his way home via his neighbors’ pools. Running through the woods wearing only swimming trunks, Ned jumps from pool to pool within his vast Connecticut Valley neighborhood. Along the way, Ned realizes a lot about himself, the people around him, and his life.
Ever watch a man slowly crumble to a near social and mental death before your eyes? If not, you should check out The Swimmer. With every step he takes, Burt Lancaster does a magnificent job taking Ned Merrill from a high standing social pedestal to a dirty street gutter overflowing with humiliation and desperation. Done in a very subtle way, The Swimmer will have to feeling both outrage and pity towards ol’ Neddy. Yes, there are a lot of unanswered question that may leave you scratching your head; ie, where was Ned coming from at the beginning of the movie? The movie starts with him running through the woods and showing up at a friend’s house, but where in jeepers crow was he coming from? Along his way, Ned runs into a twenty year old former baby sitter named Julie (Janet Landgard) who is stunning. I only mention this because Janet Landgard didn’t do much after The Swimmer, and I have to wonder why. If you look closely, you’ll also notice a pre-facelift Joan Rivers (who looks exactly like she does now, and you know it’s not genetics at work here), a skinny Dolph Sweet (ugly father in the popular 80s sitcom Gimme a Break), and the handsome, skinny Bernie Hamilton (sloppy chief in Starsky and Hutch).  Kim Hunter, who played Zira in Planet of the Apes, also appears-without her monkey mask, of course. In what must have been one hell of a risqué move in 1968, studly Burt Lancaster gives the audience a nice long look at his naked bum-bum. Extras include trailers of various Burt Lancaster movies. On a side note, if you want to check out a great Lancaster film, watch the 1958 release Run Silent Run Deep. I was very surprised, and entertained, by The Swimmer. – Denis Sheehan



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