THIS WEEK THE LOSER REVIEWS: THE SWIMMER

Finally, the good people at Grindhouse Releasing have seen fit to reissue 1968’s The Swimmer. Jeez — did anyone realize the thing was shot in color? I had no idea. When last I saw this pitcher, around 1972, it was in black and white. Of course, my gran’s Zenith was not a color set, so that may have been the reason. This restored version is as saturated as a Douglas Sirk cravat.

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Burt Lancaster, 1968

Even more saturated, however, is the cameo of John Cheever, who wrote the short story on which the pitcher was based. While Mr. Cheever was never particularly my cuppa, I must give credit where credit is due: the man can chew scenery. Or perhaps I mean knock it back. In his big scene he drifts silently in an inflated chaise at the deep end of a suburban Connecticut pool, three sheets to the wind, a tropical drink teetering in his languid grip. It’s a performance that absolutely shimmers with, I don’t know … ultraviolet radiation? Mesmerized, I completely forgot that J.J. Hunsecker was scowling from the pool deck, getting ready for his lap.


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