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The Swimmer (1968)

Book Vs Movie Podcast

Book Vs. Movie:
The Swimmer
The 1964 John Cheever story vs. the 1968 Burt Lancaster Film

Burt Lancaster always claimed that his 1968 film The Swimmer was his best work, and we are here to show you exactly why! The John Cheever short story that appeared in the July 18, 1964 issue of The New Yorker is a surrealistic tale of an alcoholic man (Neddy Merrill) who journeys to his home through suburban New York via swimming pools. Along the way, he realizes that the life he thinks he is leading (high status with a beautiful family) is actually in shambles, and he is, in fact, alone and broke.

The 1968 film is a masterclass of acting and direction, which is ironic considering the shoot was chaotic, with the firing of several actors and the director, Frank Perry, during the shoot. With a 24-year-old Marvin Hamlisch soundtrack, cameos from Joan Rivers and Janet Landgard, and Lancaster in a blue swimsuit showing off his 52-year-old body–the film was not well-received at the time by the press or at the box office. Since then, it has gained a cult following with a look at what small-budgeted movies coming soon in the 1970s.

What are the main differences between the short story and the film? Which version did the Margos like better? Have a listen!

In this ep, the Margos discuss:

Clips used:

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