The Drowning Pool (film)

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The Drowning Pool
Drowning pool.jpg
original movie poster
Directed by Stuart Rosenberg
Produced by David Foster
Lawrence Turman
Written by Tracy Keenan Wynn
Lorenzo Semple Jr.
Walter Hill
Based on the novel The Drowning Pool by Ross Macdonald
Starring Paul Newman
Joanne Woodward
Anthony Franciosa
Murray Hamilton
Gail Strickland
Melanie Griffith
Music by Michael Small
Cinematography Gordon Willis
Edited by John C. Howard
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • July 10, 1975 (1975-07-10)
Running time
109 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $2.6 million[1]

The Drowning Pool is a 1975 American thriller film directed by Stuart Rosenberg, and based upon Ross Macdonald's novel of the same name. The film stars Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, and Anthony Franciosa, and is a sequel to Harper. The setting is shifted from California to Louisiana.


Private detective Lew Harper (Paul Newman) of Los Angeles investigates a threat in Louisiana bayou Parish against an old flame of his, Iris Devereaux (Joanne Woodward). Iris is worried that her ex-chauffeur will tell her husband that she has been cheating on him. The story also involves Iris' daughter Schuyler (Melanie Griffith) and Iris' mother-in-law Olivia in several interesting sub-plots.

Harper is caught up in a power struggle between Olivia, the owner of the valuable, oil-rich Devereux estate, and oil tycoon Jay Hue Kilbourne (Murray Hamilton), while local police authority Broussard (Anthony Franciosa) has a personal interest in the family and wants the private eye gone.

At one point, the complicated plot has Harper and Kilbourne's wife Mavis (Gail Strickland) locked in a hydrotherapy room, with the water rising to the ceiling, hence the film's title.

One scene features a corrupt cop, Franks (Richard Jaeckel), who eventually meets his end when Jay Hue spurs two male attack dogs on to kill him; the dogs leap onto Franks, killing him offscreen.



In April 1973 producers David Foster and Lawrence Turman announced they had optioned the rights to MacDonald's novel The Drowning Pool (1950) for director Robert Mulligan and had hired Walter Hill to adapt it.[2] Hill later estimated that only two minor scenes in the film were true to his adaptation.[3]

Paul Newman agreed to star, which meant the film was co produced by First Artists at Warner Bros. By September 1974 Tracy Keenan Wynn was writing the screenplay.[4]

Newman said "a character like Harper is very easy. It's great fun to get up in the morning and play Harper."[5]

The film was shot in late 1974. There was location filming in Lafayette and New Orleans.[6]


The movie was nominated as best picture of the year by the Edgar Allan Poe Awards.

A.H. Weiler of The New York Times said in the review: "Under Stuart Rosenberg's muscular but pedestrian direction, the script, adapted from (Ross Macdonald's) 1950 novel, transports our hero from his native California to present-day New Orleans and its bayou environs. ... Of course, Mr. Newman's Harper survives beatings, traps and a variety of enticing offers with quips, charm and inherent decency projected in underplayed, workmanlike style. If his performance is not outstanding, it is a shade more convincing than the characterizations of the other principals, who emerge as odd types and not as fully fleshed, persuasive individuals. ... Unfortunately, the performances and such authentic facets as Cajun talk, bayous, New Orleans and an imposing, white-pillared, antebellum mansion set amid wide lawns and ancient live oaks, serve only to make The Drowning Pool a mildly interesting diversion." [7]

Roger Ebert gave the film a mixed 2-stars out of a possible 4 rating. He wrote that the basic premise of The Drowning Pool was "straightforward thriller material, and could have made a decent B movie. But since "The Drowning Pool" is a Paul Newman vehicle, it goes first class, and that turns out to be fatal. So much attention is given to making the movie look good visually that the story gets mislaid..."[8]

Home media

The Drowning Pool was released on November 14, 2006, as part of the Paul Newman Collection DVD box set.

See also


  1. ^ FIRST ANNUAL 'GROSSES GLOSS' Byron, Stuart. Film Comment; New York Vol. 12, Iss. 2, (Mar/Apr 1976): 30-31.
  2. ^ Barbra Nightingale: SELECTED SHORTS DETECTIVE WHO? TOUCHDOWN! Nurse Barbra By A. H. WEILER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 29 Apr 1973: 135.
  3. ^ "Hard Riding", Greco, Mike, Film Comment 16.3 (May/Jun 1980): 13-19,80.
  4. ^ Wynn Signs Pact With Columbia Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]18 Sep 1974: f25.
  5. ^ The Newmans: 2 Lives in the Movies By MEL GUSSOW. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]28 Apr 1975: 33.
  6. ^ Display of hands for Barbra, Jon Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file); Chicago, Ill. [Chicago, Ill]05 Dec 1974: b16.
  7. ^ A.H. Weiler, "Newman as Harper: Detective Resurfaces in 'Drowning Pool'" N.Y. Times Review, June 26, 1975
  8. ^

External links

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