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
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 dates
  • 1975 (1975)
Running time
109 min.
Country United States
Language English, French

The Drowning Pool is a 1975 American thriller film directed by Stuart Rosenberg, and based upon Ross Macdonald's novel The Drowning Pool. 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) investigates a blackmail plot in Louisiana bayou country involving the nymphomaniac daughter (Melanie Griffith) of an old flame of his, Iris Devereaux (Joanne Woodward).

Harper is caught up in a power struggle between Iris 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 of the film's most gripping scenes features a corrupt cop, Franks (Richard Jaeckel), who eventually meets his end when Jay Hue (Murray Hamilton) spurs two male attack dogs on to kill him; the dogs leap onto Jaeckel, killing him offscreen.



Producers David Foster and Lawrence Turman optioned the rights to MacDonald's 1950 novel "The Drowning Pool" for director Robert Mulligan. Hill was hired to adapt it.[1]

Hill later estimated around "two little scenes" in the film were "pretty much the way I wrote them".[2]


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." [3]


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


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ "Hard Riding", Greco, Mike, Film Comment 16.3 (May/Jun 1980): 13-19,80.
  3. ^ A.H. Weiler, "Newman as Harper: Detective Resurfaces in 'Drowning Pool'" N.Y. Times Review, June 26, 1975

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