A Few Words About A few words about...™ The Swimmer -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Apr 8, 2014.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I've always been a huge fan of the work of Frank and Eleanor Perry, especially two productions Last Summer (1969), which is sorely missed on Blu-ray, and David and Lisa (1962).

    Falling somewhere between the two is The Swimmer (1968), which places powerhouse actor Burt Lancaster in the lead of a troubled low-budget production.

    While I like The Swimmer very much, I'll readily admit that I've never been quite certain where it's going, or where it wants to be.  I just like and respect it.

    As released on Blu-ray via Grindhouse Releasing, the Columbia production arrives in great form.

    Color, densities, black levels, resolution, grain structure are all up to Columbia / Sony standards.

    As a release, Grindhouse is marching in line with Criterion and Twilight Time, with a 12 page monograph and what is essentially a 2 1/2 hour documentary, neatly broken up into chapters.  I did sample the documentary, and there are enough survivors of the production, along with some archival footage to make it work.  The overall history of the project is at times astonishing, as it seems that it was completed only by luck, perseverance and an overall desire not to lose the financial investment.  The only odd note to me, was the inclusion of Joan Rivers, in what was apparently her first "major" role.  Ms Rivers does have some interesting comments, but I presume that her inclusion came from going through the list of participants trying to find those alive, willing and able to give their time.

    Bottom line is that The Swimmer is a superb Blu-ray experience.  Based upon a story by John Cheever, a screenplay by Eleanor Perry, as well as the first score from the great Marvin Hamlisch.  The film was produced via Sam Spiegel's Horizon Pictures.  Above the line talent is all in place.

    Image - 5

    Audio - 5

    Recommended.

    As an aside to the folks at Grindhouse, "Nicely done.  More, please…"

    RAH

     
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  2. alter filmnarr

    alter filmnarr Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm really happy to get this atmospheric movie on Blu Ray. There is a kind of "hypnotic" tone to it, that cannot be described. But I can feel it every time I think about it since I saw "The Swimmer"for the first time on DVD...

    Brave, but good choice from "Grindhouse"!
     
  3. bryan4999

    bryan4999 Supporting Actor

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    I saw this movie on late night television in the early 1980s when I was in high school. I was mesmerized by it but also bewildered. I mentioned it to my literature instructor and it started quite a discussion in class. I am looking forward to seeing it again under optimum conditions.
     
  4. Bob Cashill

    Bob Cashill Cinematographer

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    The Warner Archive has had Last Summer on its slate for years.Rivers certainly warrants inclusion. Makes me wish she had done more in the dramatic vein.
     
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  5. rsmithjr

    rsmithjr Screenwriter

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    I love this movie. It is dream-like, suggests a state of confusion about time and events, Set in a beautiful summer day that looks like it could never end but does.

    The Blu-ray adds a very important dimension in showing the colors and the detail of the settings. I have seen it before but did not appreciate it until the Blu-ray. The transition from the beginning to the end is very important.

    I have to admire Burt Lancaster's performance here. He is playing a very handsome and likeable but now disappated person. He will vary from being completed engaged in the moment and talking to the person he is with like they were his best friend, to being like he is someplace else or presenting some off-putting effect.

    There is a tendency to try to figure out exactly what happened, and on that point, the narrative seems inconsistent. Don't fall for this mistake. The movie is more like a dream that has some undergirding structure but a lot of the details are very freyed.
     
  6. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    The documentary is a huge treat. As much as I was always haunted (in a positive way) by this picture when I first saw it, the more I worked in the industry and learned about the film business, the more I grew completely puzzled how this film could EVER come about. Take a legendary classic hulking Hollywood star and reduce him to... this. It was just commercially inconceivable and brave beyond the vanity which makes the industry run (he didn't give up his fee, though). But the documentary illuminates all in five laps, and it's quite an interesting journey.

    Jump on in if you're wondering about getting your feet wet, because we need to encourage Grindhouse to put out more winners like this.
     
  7. Charles Smith

    Charles Smith Extremely Talented Member
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    5/5 !!!

    Hey, I was there anyway for this one, but ... well, now I'm really there! :)
     
  8. atcolomb

    atcolomb Second Unit

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    Did a a/b comparson between the Columbia dvd and the blu-ray and the blu-ray has a much sharper and bright colored image. A great film and one of Lancaster's best performances and he said he was very proud of being in the movie.
     
  9. Yorkshire

    Yorkshire Screenwriter

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    One of my Top 10 - great to hear the disc is so good.

    PIcture, sound, extras, packing, it appears that absolutely everything any fan could ever want is here.

    What more could one ask?

    Steve W
     
  10. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    A really good film, but a depressing one too.
     
  11. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    Cheever was not exactly a Cheery-O.
     
  12. SultanOfWhat

    SultanOfWhat Agent

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  13. Jon Hertzberg

    Jon Hertzberg Screenwriter

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    It was actually quite fortuitous that Ms. Rivers was included, as she was able to provide a different perspective than the other participants...as much as I love that a Hertzberg was involved (Michael, that is), he and his assistant director cohort Ted Zachary tend to repeat themselves and possess a limited knowledge overall of the artistic process of the filmmakers and the star. They are also pretty dismissive of Frank Perry and issue bland "he was a great guy" support of Lancaster, while also admitting that they were not privy to much of the discussions--and battles--between the main creatives and the producers.

    Rivers is the only actor who offers some direct evidence of conflicts between star and director and who also provides a necessary counter to all the pro-Burt platitudes coming from every other interviewee. I love Burt and this film, as you can see from my avatar and blog, but it would be foolish to believe that Burt was always a smiling, shining, and supportive presence on all his films, least of all this very troubled production. If Joan Rivers wasn't here, that's pretty much what we would be left with since the Perrys are no longer around to defend or speak for themselves and the producers of this doc didn't widen the scope in terms of interviewees. I didn't know that Rivers was a friend of the Perrys so that was interesting to learn and it was a good thing because it ends up being just about the only positive thing said about Frank Perry in the whole piece.

    For a 2.5 hour doc, I was pretty disappointed in the paucity of interviewees. If they were going to stick to the same 5-7 people, based on what those people offered, the doc could have and should have been considerably tighter and more concise. The Perrys and THE SWIMMER have champions in criticism, academia, and Hollywood; this piece would have been much better served if they'd added some of those voices to the pot. This is to say nothing of the considerable import and influence of John Cheever in American literature...the most we hear about him in this doc is about how he got thoroughly soused during his time on the set. There should have been someone--not Janet Landgard or Michael Hertzberg or Burt's swimming coach--in this documentary to speak to Cheever's place in the culture and THE SWIMMER'S place in his oeuvre.
     
  14. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    I was just happy to get a documentary on a film that to most people was overlooked or obscure.

    And Joan Rivers story about being completely intimidated by Lancaster instructing her how to do the scene different than the director just did was, as described above, pretty damn interesting. You could just picture it, with his physical presence and industry status hovering over her. That probably sent her to a therapist for a few more years.
     
  15. Giovanni DN

    Giovanni DN Stunt Coordinator

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    fabulous-cat-meme.jpg
     
  16. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I finally broke down and ordered this fine film on BD. I hope I watched it more than once considering it's such a downer of a film.
     
  17. John Hermes

    John Hermes Screenwriter

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    Well, Robert, at least you know what to expect! :) I already have it and it is a very nice looking BD.
     
  18. ahollis

    ahollis Producer

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    Received and watched this last night. I really enjoy this drama. Burt Lancaster really nails this as does each of the supporting players do. I love how this movie goes down the dark hole. The supplements are exceptional. The transfer is gorgeous. We want more of this type Grindhouse.
     
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  19. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I remembered when they film this movie in my neck of the woods back in Connecticut. I enjoyed the film back then, but as I got older, it got more depressing for me to watch it. Burt Lancaster has been one of my five favorite actors so I look forward to viewing it again in 1080p.
     
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  20. haineshisway

    haineshisway Producer

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    The "documentary" is a textbook example of how not to do one - there is so much endless repetition of the exact same information it's mind-numbing. There are good interviews here but was there an actual editor around - there's a good sixty-minute featurette in this mess.
     
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