27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
I'm going to just dive into this and say YES, I'm on the bandwagon.... a terrific movie gets an absolute STELLAR release! WOW , WOW , WOW, in the days when major studios are releasing films on DVD R no less, this company issues this brilliant Burt Lancaster GEM on both DVD and BLU RAY with 4k restored picture. The riches continue...with a nice booklet and excellent essay and a bevy of terrific bonus features.... did I say WOW WOW WOW? I was a bit put off by the price but ordered anyway and now I'm checking this company out for other releases and upcoming products!
I think it is important to support the few companies that are still interested in putting out films and giving us something extra!
It is terrific presentations like this , with interesting and informative extras that make something worth owning and collecting.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2014
I never saw this film when it first came out in 1968, but I vividly recall seeing a trailer for it in the coming attractions prior to seeing another (now long forgotten) movie. It's strange that a mere trailer would stick with someone for more than 40 years, but the phrase "I'm swimming home" has haunted me all this time. I am so glad that I finally got a chance to see the movie itself.
I wonder if I would have appreciated it at age 16, when I saw that trailer. Probably not. I think one has to experience a lot of what Ned Merrill has before this film would really hit home - and hit home it does! I'm not going to give away any of the plot, so no need for spoiler alerts here. Suffice to say that you are painfully aware at the start that all is not as it seems, and as the story progresses the veil (of forgetfulness? of denial? of self rationalization?) is slowly and inexorably lifted, until the soul-shattering climax (which by then you've been fearfully anticipating) at the movie's end.
I truly wish I could say this movie was "dated", because that would mean its terrible, nihilistic vision of the hollowness of suburban life was also no longer relevant - sadly, it remains as current as last minute's Facebook posting or Instagram.
Burt Lancaster is at the top of his form here - flawless performance. Janet Landgard and Janice Rule are also superb.
28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2014
I was forced to read John Cheever’s short story THE SWIMMER not once or twice, but several times between 7th grade and high school graduation. While that may be somewhat of a damning indictment of growing up in the ‘80s and early ‘90s (between that and the handful of Toni Morrison novels I was forced to endure, you can understand why kids today have no familiarity with classic literature), Cheever’s story was an interesting read, and one that made for an equally fascinating 1968 film starring Burt Lancaster. The movie – a commercial failure that eventually gained a cult following – is now available on Blu-Ray from Grindhouse Releasing in a sensational package that’s an early candidate for the year’s best.
swimmer“The Swimmer” probes the fragmented psyche of a wealthy townie who swims from one pool to the next in a wealthy Connecticut suburb, gradually reliving his failed personal and professional life along the way. Lancaster stars as Ned Merrill, and gives a tremendous performance as a guy experiencing his past and re-experiencing his downfall, which is partially revealed in a series of mostly ambiguous run-ins with various neighbors. From his family’s nubile babysitter (Janet Landgard) to his former mistress (Janice Rule), it’s clear something has happened to Ned’s job and (possibly) family, and yet director Frank Perry and screenwriter Eleanor Perry (the director’s then-wife) do a remarkable job retaining enough of the mystery from Cheever’s story so it’s never completely explained. Lancaster, meanwhile, is superb in a demanding role that ranges from a sexist, cheating, demeaning louse to a sympathetic loser who’s fallen from grace (look also for Joan Rivers as a party guest Burt hits on late in the film!).
“The Swimmer” is a weird, poetic, powerful film from the late ’60s – both a time capsule of its time and a vivid portrait of a upper-middle class man overly (and seemingly) swept up in the fast lane of life, who receives his comeuppance as the picture progresses. It’s nearly like “Ordinary People” meets “The Twilight Zone,” though even that description doesn’t quite capture the film’s offbeat eccentricities and its central theme, which is as valid today as ever.
Originally shot on-location in Connecticut, “The Swimmer” had a rocky post-production period, with an uncredited Sydney Pollack called in to re-shoot scenes involving, among others, Lancaster and Janice Rule. A handful of secondary roles were re-cast and re-shot in California, often obviously so, with Kim Hunter one of the new additions to the film (according to one of the casting sheets seen in the documentary, Billy Dee Williams originally played the chauffeur whom Lancaster insults).
It’s possible that these alterations only added to the movie’s strange atmosphere and tone, but either way, the film’s legacy and its fascinating behind-the-scenes story have been captured in a spectacular Blu-Ray/DVD release from Grindhouse. Available March 25th, “The Swimmer” not only includes a phenomenally fresh, and DNR-free, 1080p transfer from the Sony vaults, but also a full isolated stereo track of Marvin Hamlisch’s memorable dramatic score (his first) and a bevy of extras.
Chief among them is an extensive, 2½ hour documentary from Oscar-winning film editor Chris Innis. Though many of the principals have since passed, Innis managed to assemble Janet Landgard, Joan Rivers, editor Sidney Katz, Burt’s daughter Joanna Lancaster, and assistant directors Michael Hertzberg and Ted Zachary. All share their recollections of working on the film, particularly Lancaster’s generosity and his conflicts with Frank Perry, along with producer Sam Spielgel’s problems with the film in post-production. The latter lead to Frank Perry being fired and Pollack brought in at Lancaster’s insistence, along with Katz extensively recutting the picture. Though the Perrys were obviously unhappy with Spiegel’s actions, there’s little that disappoints in the released version – and the fact that Frank Perry worked with editor Katz on subsequent projects indicates that perhaps the director was satisfied, at least somewhat, with how the picture turned out after all.
Also included in the documentary is a 2010 conversation with Marvin Hamlisch, who details his hiring on the film and eloquently sums up the movie’s pleasures, as well as Marge Champion, who can be seen in the film’s opening sequence. The elderly Champion also appears in a 2013 TCM screening interview conducted by filmmaker Allison Anders, likewise included here in the bonus features.
Grindhouse has also included unused footage shot for the movie’s opening credits, as well as stills from Barbara Loden’s discarded scene in the role that Rule ultimately filled. This is also brought up in the documentary with the revelation that Loden’s husband at the time, director Elia Kazan, conspired with Spiegel to have her sequence removed – going behind the backs of the Perrys, who thought Kazan was acting as an advocate for them.
Additional still galleries, full trailers and TV spots, a recording of Cheever reading his original story, and booklet notes from B-movie auteur Stuart Gordon and Innis make for a dynamite package that’s my favorite release so far in 2014. Unquestionably recommended!
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2014
Great off-kilter film, feels like you are in the twilight zone. The blu ray quality is stunning, deep rich visuals and strong audio. The extras have gone above and beyond also.
29 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2014
I forget when I first watched this movie. I wish it had been almost at the moment of my birth. This is a simple story about a man, played impeccably by Burt Lancaster, who decides to swim home across his neighbors' swimming pools for no particular reason that we are aware of. On the way he revisits his own flawed and failed past. Failed career. Failed relationships. Failed marriage. No, it's not his past. It's the present. No, wait, it's his future. Burt is as baffled by them as I am. Why is everyone so cruel and uncaring toward me? Why could I have done to make them so harsh and unforgiving? He can't remember. He doesn't understand. But it doesn't matter. Nothing matters but swimming home. Is he living in a timeless present where the past and the future do not exist? This is a film you will not be able to forget. It will make you reflect on your life like no other film I have ever known. It is a film that I am afraid to watch and that I never want to end. And the ending. Oh, the ending. It will crush you like a beer can.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2014
Aged muscular Burt Lancaster swimming through the pools of suburbia in his blue trunks remains an unforgettable and timeless portrait of despair.
Like many people The Swimmer has haunted me since I first saw it. That was in the 1970s as a teenager on a local television channel. Though it was edited and had commercials it's power was mesmerizing.
Over the years I saw again and most recently some months ago on TCM.
Viewing this stunning Blu-ray release was like seeing it for the first time. The color and sound bring it to new aesthetic heights.
The main lure of acquiring this were the extras.
Included is audio of author John Cheever reading the short story. His plummy contrived upper class cadence captures the anguish of the tale. Watching the film right after one appreciates the tremendous talent and ingenuity of neglected screenwriter Eleanor Perry who imaginatively expanded a 10 page New Yorker story into a 95 minute feature film. Among her striking inventions is of the lead character miming swimming through a drained pool with a young boy. She artfully takes Cheever's situations and fills them out with with new characters and sharp dialogue all true to the spirit of the story.
The bulk of the bonus features is a lengthy documentary about it's production. As most of the principal participants are deceased, first assistant director Michael Hertzberg and second assistant directorTed Zachary wryly provide most of the enlightening behind the scenes reminiscences. Joanna Lancaster's contributes greatly with personal stories about the star, her father. This was Marvin Hamlisch's first film score and he eloquently discusses how it came to him and the impact it had on him. Joan Rivers looks back on her small but effective role in it and it's a reminder that she started out as a talented and serious actress.
The most revelatory fact it explores is of it's troubled production. Eleanor Perry and her husband director Frank Perry shopped it around with no interest until legendary producer Sam Spiegel got involved, resulting in another tortuous Hollywood Faustian bargain.
Grindhouse Releasing commendably has rescued this "lost" gem from relative obscurity for new and repeat viewers to experience.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2014
I was truly excited to get The Swimmer on blu ray especially for all the extras! The Swimmer has long been one of my favorite films since I saw it over 20 years ago for the first time. It's so original and unlike any other movie I've ever seen. Burt Lancaster is fabulous in the lead role. What's truly great about this blu ray/dvd remastered combo is the extra features! It includes interviews with both co-directors, Burt Lancaster's daughter, cast members, and much more! Even Joan Rivers is interviewed for her small part in this film. Also included is a music track only version of the film with just the beautiful soundtrack playing by Marvin Hamlisch. If you are a fan of this film you will love this newly restored release. And if you have never seen The Swimmer this is the version to get and enjoy one of the best films ever made!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 8, 2014
Words can not express how delighted I am to own this new Blu Ray of "The Swimmer". It is a major longtime favorite. Knowing that it was a relatively low budget effort, I was not surprised when seeing all previous editions I have seen of the movie (and I have seen it many times) to find them looking a bit rough, faded, etc…. I had thought that the producers lacked the wherewithal to control the overall look of the production in the way that major studios usually did. This new edition clears up that misconception. Clearly, they achieved a lustrously beautiful picture, with vibrant color, good contrast, perfect sharpness and fine, clear audio. It can now be seen as the beautiful movie that the crew who made it clearly worked very hard and skillfully to create. In that respect, it is an eye-opener, and a joy. I know, from personal experience, that the movie itself is not for everyone. I find it poignant, deeply moving, and incredibly thought provoking, but it does not spoon-feed the viewer with all the answers that explain its amazing conclusion. It is not static, or dry, but it is devoted entirely to depicting human drama, and powerful commentary on people's lifestyles. It has none of the pulse-pounding action highlights to be found in so many of today's movies. I have read that Burt Lancaster had initially been reluctant to take on the lead role. I hope that he was glad to have changed his mind, as the work of this exceptional actor in this film may be the best he ever did. If you favor engrossing, serious film-fare that will cause you to ponder what you have seen long afterward, this one should unquestionably be on your must-see list.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2014
I saw this movie by accident years ago and it has become one of my favorites. It's a movie you can watch over and over and discover more clues and notice more subtle hints at the ending every time. I was getting a little anxious since I only had the movie in VHS format and the technology in our household was changing to DVD/Blu-Ray. I was so happy to discover this combo pack so I can watch the movie again with a clear picture and great sound. My husband claims he doesn't like this movie but ends up watching it with me every time.....
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2014
The movie is highly recommended anyway, but the fact
that it got such a wonderful release by Grindhouse is reason to celebrate.
Superb HD transfer, excellent supplement, package etc. etc. ALL JUST GREAT!