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How Many of These Movie Swimming Pool Scenes Do You Remember?
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) is the everyman Midwestern hero who is blessed/cursed with the chance to see what his life would be like if he had never been born. In a flashback scene he’s shown dancing with his girlfriend (Donna Reed well before she became a TV star) when the gym floor opens up and he spills into the pool below. By the way, that gym floor and pool is from an actual high school in Beverly Hills, and it’s still there. Note: that’s Carl Switzer dancing along with Stewart and the rest of the high school gang in a cameo role. Who is Carl Switzer? He played “Alfalfa” in the Our Gang (aka Little Rascals) shorts in the 1930s.
The Graduate (1967)
Dustin Hoffman reclining on a floatie in the middle of the pool with shades on is one of the most iconic images from this celebrated movie about a college student who is pursued by a married woman twice his age, the famous Mrs. Robinson. One of the pool scenes in this film (there are many) is accompanied by the hit Simon & Garfunkle song “Sounds of Silence.”
Harold and Maude (1971)
Only 19-year old Harold appears in this wonderful scene where he fakes his suicide face down in his family pool as his mother swims right past him, immune to his attempts to garner attention.
The Great Gatsby (1974 and 2013)
We prefer the 1974 version with Robert Redford as the titular Jay Gatsby, but if your tastes run more toward Leonardo DiCaprio, go with the remake. SPOILER ALERT: Don’t watch if you've never read the book (shame on you) or never seen the movie. This is a shocking scene and it’s very central to the theme of the entire story, so I won’t say much more than that, in case you’ve missed it.
There’s never been a ranking of Scenes Most Likely to Make the Audience Gross Out, but if there were I think this scene from the 1980 comedy would rate very high. This is the first of two scenes on our list to feature Bill Murray.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
This fun coming of age movie propelled Matthew Broderick to stardom (that proved to be a one-hit deal, eh?) A classic movie for sure, but this scene is oddly dark.
“Maybe he’s really sick. Maybe he isn’t just torturing himself,” Broderick’s Ferris says to his girlfriend as they recline in the hot tub. The line tells us all we need to know about Cameron Frye, Ferris’s best buddy and alter ego. Sick or tortured? It doesn’t really matter --- Cameron has more problems than a high school kid should have, or so he thinks.
As Ferris sits in the hot tub delicately eating an Oreo, we see Cameron from Bueller’s point of view: an already middle aged man at the age of 17, anxiety riddled, terrified to enter the pool, which is of course just a metaphor for life. Cameron peers down from his perch on a chair on the diving board, focusing on the floor of the pool, and in that instant he reverts to his toddler self, afraid of going down the drain. Then he nosedives and sinks to the bottom of the pool, sitting there, just sitting and lamenting his life.
The Sandlot (1993)
“I can’t take this no more.” – Michael “Squints” Palledorous
The Sandlot kids step away from the baseball diamond to cool off at the public pool, and what “Squints” did to gain the attention of beautiful lifeguard Wendy Peffercorn became legendary.
National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)
What’s not to like about this scene? We have Chevy Chase in one of only two movie roles he was ever really well suited to play*, and gorgeous model Christie Brinkley tempting him for a late-night swim.
How could we get this far without a cannonball? Basically, Bill Murray’s character in this movie is the adult version of Cameron Frye. He’s filled with angst and self-pity and he simply wants a best friend. Just like in Ferris Bueller, the friend is found in high school. In this pool scene, Murray does a massive cannonball as the ungrateful guests at his sons’ birthday party watch and then he sinks to the bottom of the pool, just like Frye did in Bueller. But Max Fischer isn’t there to dive in after him.
Almost Famous (2000)
“I am a golden God!”
No you’re not. You’re just a wannabe rock star gone wild.
Lady in the Water (2006)
This clunker from M. Night Shyamalan gets a putrid 24% on Rotten Tomatoes. Still, in case you haven’t seen it, I won’t tell you the “twist” ending because you might want to “enjoy it.”
The Social Network (2010)
In the tradition of several earlier films, like Rodney Dangerfield’s Back To School and Will Ferrell’s Old School (aren’t they just the same movie with different hairstyles and clothes?), in The Social Network we’re treated to a scene where drunken men jump into a pool from a high elevation. Alcohol is also involved, go figure.