The Best Film You've Never Seen: THE SWIMMER

(USA, 1968, 94 mins, DCP)
CAST Burt Lancaster, Janet Langard, Janice Rule, Kim Hunter, Joan Rivers.
Introduced by author Robert K Elder (The Best Film You’ve Never Seen).


Author Robert K Elder asked 35 filmmakers to champion a movie that they love, but which had either been overlooked or reviled by critics and audiences. The result, ’The Best Film You’ve Never Seen’ is fascinating both for what it reveals about the directors he talked to - they include Richard Linklater (Same Came Running), Danny Boyle (Eureka), and Guy Maddin (The Chase) - and for their insights into some seriously neglected films. Case in point: Frank Perry’s The Swimmer, based on a short story by John Cheever, starring Burt Lancaster as a man who decides to swim his way home across Connecticut, one backyard swimming pool at a time.

Selected by the Australian director Alex Proyas - who has made more than a few neglected gems himself (Dark City; Knowing) - The Swimmer is a genuinely strange and surprising movie, a troubled production that shouldn’t work yet stays with you long afterwards. Lancaster called it "Death of a Salesman in swimming trunks". For Proyas, it’s "an exercise in delusion… He [Lancaster] has convinced himself he’s lived a very different life to the one he finds he’s lived… It’s a very brave movie, and a very brave role."

Author Robert K Elder will be here at Vancity Theatre to introduce The Swimmer and talk about his book.

"As do few movies, The Swimmer stays in the memory like an echo that never quite disappears." Vincent Canby, New York TImes

"Enigmatic, poetic, disturbing." Kim Newman, Empire

"Burt Lancaster is superb in his finest performance." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times