Swimmer (The) (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - Powerhouse Films
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (12th September 2022).
The Film

One of the few bona fide counter-cultural films to be produced by a major studio, The Swimmer is a sun-scorched and surreal suburban satire that boasts a fine performance from Burt Lancaster (Castle Keep, Buffalo Bill and the Indians) as Ned Merrill, the all-American man who one day determines to swim home to his Connecticut mansion via a series of pools in his neighbourhood.

Directed by Frank Perry (Diary of a Mad Housewife) imbues Eleanor Perry’s (David and Lisa, Ladybug Ladybug) adaptation of John Cheever’s short story with stunning expressionistic flourishes, creating a true masterpiece of cinema.


A truly fascinating film that I first saw many years ago on the old UK DVD when a friend brought it round for movie night. Possible best described as an arthouse big studio release and one that had a difficult road to the final version we have all seen and enjoyed. At the time I saw it, I had no idea about the difficulties that went on behind the scenes and yet the final result is seamless unless you've read widely about it and / or seen Chris Innis' excellent documentary The Story of the Swimmer (2014). I had seen the doc when I bought the 2014 US BD from Grindhouse Releasing. In any case, it's a great, thought-provoking drama that deserves it's high reputation.

Director of photography David L. Quaid did a great job giving The Swimmer a luscious look. Shot using spherical lenses in 35mm with a matted aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The transfer here is the same 2014 one, done in 4K, supervised at Sony by James Owlsley. Sony's masters are usually exceptional and although this one is getting old how it looks fabulous. Plying both editions (Grindhouse vs Powerhouse) side by side it's obvious that the 2014 US disc has overly boosted fleshtones that come over as slightly too rich with an orange push. The 2022 UK transfer has dialled it back a notch as a result the colours, although still rich in that way '60s colour palettes favoured, it feels much more natural. Overall the palette favours yellows and greens and primaries look as they should.

Black levels are perfectly balanced with no crush and plenty of shadow detail. Contrast is textured and low key supporting highlights and fine detail nicely. It's beautifully encoded and without any signs of print damage or digital manipulation. The usual, filmic Powerhouse transfer. A solid 'A'.

1080p24 / AVC MPEG-4 / BD50 / 1.85:1 / 95:05


English LPCM 1.0 (48kHz)
Subtitles: English HoH

This is a dialogue-heavy film and it's well served by this pretty standard mono track of the period. It lacks depth and range but that's par for the course. Score is nicely rendered and dialogue and effects are well balanced in the mix. Excellent, comprehensive hard of hearing subtitles are provided ('B+').


Audio commentary by historian Justin Bozung (2022)

Unique to this release and created specially for it. Kicks off by giving us a fair and unflattering portrait of producer Sam Spiegel and the amount of trouble he cause for the Perry's during the road from short story to the big screen. The Perry's had been the originators of the film and yet Spiegel had Frank fired having a number of other director's taking over uncredited. Bozung gives a very detailed overview of the film with much focussing on the film that could've been without Spiegel's interference. An excellent, jam-packed track presented in lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

Isolated Music & Effects Track in LPCM 1.0 (48kHz)

What it says on the tin. Marvin Hamlisch's excellent score coupled with sound effects.

"Allison Anders interviews Marge Champion" 2014 interview (17:55)
"Against the Tide: Richard Ayoade on The Swimmer" 2022 interview (10:51)

The first piece was also on the American Grindhouse BD and has Anders introducing the film before a screening at the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood 2013. Presented in 1080p24 1.78:1 with lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. The Ayoade segment is new and made for this release and has the veteran UK actor, writer, producer and director relating his feelings about The Swimmer. As usual, he's intelligent and thoughtful. Presented in 1080p24 1.78:1 with uncompressed LPCM 2.0 stereo sound.

"The Swimmer Read by the Author John Cheever" 2004 reading (25:37)

This piece although supposedly made in 2004 features a reading by the author of the original short story, John Cheever (1912-82), that obviously must date from before he died. Presented in lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 mono against a black screen.

Title Sequence Outtakes (4:04)

Good-looking outtakes matted to 1.78:1, presented in 1080p24 and set to Hamlisch's score in lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

Trailer & TV Spots (Play All - 4:54)
- US Theatrical Trailer (2:43)
- TV Spot #1 (0:22)
- TV Spot #2 (0:22)
- TV Spot A (1:02)
- TV Spot X (0:12)
- TV Spot Y (0:12)

A collection of vintage promo pieces. The trailers are in 1080p24 matted to 1.85:1 with uncompressed LPCM 1.0 (48kHz). The spots are presented in 1080p24 1.37:1 with lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. The trailers look and sound great, the spots look little faded, soft nd the sound is slightly hissy.

Trailers from Hell with Illeana Douglas: The Swimmer (5:20)

Actress and director Douglas gives us an intro and her thoughts on The Swimmer. A 2019 short made for Joe Dante's Trailers from Hell website. Presented in 1080p24 1.78:1 with the trailer being 1.85:1. Sound is uncompressed LPCM 2.0 stereo.

Image Galleries:
- The Swimmer Image Gallery: Frank Perry's Storyboards (14 images)
- The Swimmer Image Gallery: Deleted Barbara Loden Scene (46 images)
- The Swimmer Image Gallery: Production Stills (109 images)
- The Swimmer Image Gallery: Behind the Scenes (60 images)
- The Swimmer Image Gallery: Original Promotional Material (55 images)
- The Swimmer Image Gallery: Janet Landgard Stills (34 images)

A whopping collection of HD galleries with a grand total of 318 images to peruse.

An 80-page liner notes book with a new essay by Sophie Monks Kaufman, a profile of writer John Cheever, extracts from interviews with Frank Perry and Eleanor Perry on the making of the film, an overview of contemporary critical responses and film credits

The usual superb hard copy companion only this is one of Powerhouse's double-length editions so more good value and fascinating background articles than usual.

A limited edition exclusive poster

Sadly, not provided for review.


Not provided for review and Powerhouse use several different variations so it's not known which version of special edition pckaging they're using. I'd guess a hard card slipcase with a BD Keepcase inside along with the booklet and poster folded up.


A classic cult item gets the deluxe treatment from Powerhouse Films in the UK. Excellent image and sound quality herald the finest home video version yet seen of this classic film. Extras are very good although the feature-length 2014 documentary made for the US BD is sorely missed there"# plenty of new material to warrant a double dip for thise so inclined. After all, the transfer is the thing and this disc bests the older US disc on that score alone. Highly recommended.

The Film: A- Video: A Audio: B+ Extras: A- Overall: A-


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