Burt Lancaster stars as a suburban bum who, in retracing his steps from pool to pool, illuminates the causes of his downfall. The stylized, episodic, moody film, based on John Cheever’s dramatic fantasy, is something of a minor triumph in collaborative filmmaking.
Lancaster, in swim trunks throughout, pops up on a sunny Sunday morning at a suburban poolside, miles away from his house, and decides to ‘swim’ home by visiting at each neighbor’s house. Each self-contained sequence adds indirect light to Lancaster himself; he is compulsively gregarious, compulsively youthful, compulsively sexual, compulsively self-deluded. Film is the story of a moral hangover, with the sobered-up bewildered man retracing his steps to see what he has done.
Without detailing the large cast, suffice it to say that performances, direction and writing hit the target. Lancaster emerges with a strong achievement, that of a pitiable middle-aged Joe College.