“The Swimmer” in BEFORE YOU GO

Burt Lancaster starred in a literate little 1968 film called “The Swimmer,” based on a short story by John Cheever. I’m certain that I watched the movie as a kid, probably on The 4:30 Movie during Burt Lancaster week. Growing up, I don’t have many memories of Mom ever telling me to turn off the TV, except when dinner was ready, so I saw pretty much everything. Unlike much of it that never left an imprint, “The Swimmer” always stuck with me (btw, it’s currently available on the cinematic wasteland known as Netflix Instant).

Here, check out the trailer.

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That inspired device — swimming home by pool-hopping across the neighborhood — initiates a journey into the past for Ned Merrill, a journey of self-realization and heartbreak. The movie did not make much of a splash at the box office, though some critics liked it and, from what I can gather, it still has it’s devotees. According to Variety: “A lot of people are not going to understand this film; many will loathe it; others will be moved deeply.”

I’m telling you this because I gave the movie a subtle nod in Before You Go. In this scene, Corey and Jude are hanging out on the roof of Jude’s house, which was something I used to do as a teenager, just get on that roof, look down on suburban Long Island, and dream of my escape.

“Check out that sweet swimming pool behind Ansari’s house, all lit up with floodlights.” Corey whistled. “Man, that water is calling my name. We should grab Vinnie and the guys, sneak out, and go pool-hopping some night. I wonder how many we could do. What do you think, Jude, if we swam our way across town? Hopping from pool to pool. That would be a trip.”

In the book, they don’t make that journey. The idea begins and dies right there on the roof. But I got it from the old 4:30 Movie, and can still hear that great theme song today, because it’s from the soundtrack of my life.

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