The Swimmer (1968) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Swimmer (1968)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Swimmer Photos

Movie Info

In this film, Burt Lancaster plays a wealthy, middle-aged advertising man, who embarks on a revelatory journey through suburban Connecticut. Lancaster slowly makes his way to his split-level home by travelling from swimming pool to swimming pool. At each stop, Lancaster faces an incident from his past.

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Burt Lancaster
as Ned Merrill
Janice Rule
as Shirley Abbott
Kim Hunter
as Betty Graham
Janet Landgard
as Julie Hooper
Tony Bickley
as Donald Westerhazy
Marge Champion
as Peggy Forsburgh
Nancy Cushman
as Mrs. Halloran
Bill Fiore
as Howie Hunsacker
John Garfield Jr.
as Ticket Seller
Rose Gregorio
as Sylvia Finney
Charles Drake
as Howard Graham
Bernie Hamilton
as Chauffeur
House Jameson
as Mr. Halloran
Jimmy Joyce
as Jack Finney
Michael Kearney
as Kevin Gilmartin
Richard McMurray
as Stu Forsburgh
Jan Miner
as Lillian Hunsacker
David Garfield
as Ticket Seller
Dolph Sweet
as Henry Biswanger
Louise Troy
as Grace Biswanger
Diana Van der Vlis
as Helen Westerhazy
Lisa Daniels
as Matron at the Biswangers' Pool
John Gerstad
as Guest at the Bunkers' Pool
Marilyn Langner
as Enid Bunker
Ray Mason
as Bunkers' Party Guest
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Critic Reviews for The Swimmer

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (6)

As effectively as almost any movie ever made about American suburbia, The Swimmer gets the contentment that comes with material success[...] And it gets how the fantasy is hard to sustain.

April 1, 2014 | Rating: 4/5

A resounding commercial flop, this has since been recognized as a signature 60s film, prescient in its view of American self-deception.

October 30, 2007 | Full Review…

A largely loony but oddly compulsive allegory.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…

As do few movies, The Swimmer stays in the memory like an echo that never quite disappears.

May 9, 2005 | Rating: 3.5/5

Burt Lancaster is superb in his finest performance.

October 23, 2004 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

An enigmatic, poetic, disturbing, interestingly pretentious fable.

June 1, 2003 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Swimmer


A buff Burt Lancaster is nearly naked the whole film as a upscale businessman swimming through the pools of his neighbors in a circuitous route home one evening. I wouldn't watch this for years as I took it merely as a Lancaster vanity project, but now I guess I'm old enough to see that that actually plays an important part in the story, his vanity, undercutting what is seen versus what is real. There's a Twilight Zone twist telegraphed throughout, but nonetheless its a cool piece about the difference between who we think we are and who we are in fact.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

Observing that all his neighbors have swimming pools, an indefatigably cheerful man out for a morning jog decides to "swim" his way home; at each stop he talks to a new neighbor, slowly painting a picture of his life. Based on a John Cheever short story, this odd concept works surprisingly well as both a suburban satire and (thanks to an excellent performance by Burt Lancaster) a touching character study of a man who doesn't realize the American dream has passed him by.

Greg S
Greg S

Super Reviewer

A magnetic parable that pulverizes the american dream. Burt Lancaster plays a character engulfed by existential grief, trying to reach his own paradise lost. He decides that his burden will end when he swims his way home through every of his neighbors' pools, finding fragments and glimpses of his obscure past. Though a bit dated, it certainly has a huge space of inner meditation and also gives a hard and well-aimed blow to american society the way 'American Beauty' did some decades later. It also anticipated the arrival of 70s cinema and its complex and disenchanting themes. Lancaster's performance stands out, as well as the final scene.

Pierluigi Puccini
Pierluigi Puccini

Super Reviewer

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