This evening we watched The Swimmer (starring Burt Lancaster). It’s one of those off-the-beaten-track cinematic gems, like The Hustler (starring Paul Newman), Jeremiah Johnson (starring Robert Redford) or Little Big Man (starring Dustin Hoffman) that attract a quiet cult following and really ought to be better known. Based on a short story by John Cheever – but much better than it, the plot’s basic conceit is the metaphorical swim by an apparently popular and successful advertising agent, Ned Merrill (Lancaster), across an affluent corner of Connecticut, from swimming pool to swimming pool. It is an allegorical tale, replete with metaphors. As the middle-ageing Ned swims on he encounters existential insights, experiences growing doubts and faces increasing hostility from former friends and girlfriends. We realise all is not well… Lancaster gives a fine performance, the slickness of his advertising man’s charm contrasting with his balding pate and slacking muscles.