Saturday, 5 January 2013

Swing Shift (1984)

It's a sadly familiar tale, while a man is away fighting for his country, his good lady gets bored and lonely at home and ends up falling for the charms of someone lucky enough to not be in battle. The man in this case is Ed Harris, the woman is Goldie Hawn and the charming and lucky other fella is Kurt Russell.

Swing Shift has an easygoing charm to it even while it doesn't do that much at all. The drama isn't all that dramatic, the light moments of comedy are few and far between and any air of romance that might seep from each frame is polluted by the fact that this is a story about a married woman.

Hawn plays Kay Walsh, a woman who ends up discovering a whole new world around her when her husband (Harris) heads off to war and she lands a job at an airport plant. She becomes friends with the neighbour (Hazel, played by Christine Lahti) that her husband had always looked down his nose at and, more importantly, she starts to hit it off with Mike 'Lucky' Lockhart (Russell).

Written by Nancy Dowd, with some uncredited work from a couple of other folk, and directed by Jonathan Demme, Swing Shift is just a simple tale that is told well. It's completely unspectacular but remains worth a watch for a couple of reasons.

Reason one - this is the movie which led to Russell and Hawn starting a relationship and it adds a layer to the movie to see them in the very first stage of their romance. They work well onscreen together though it's not fair to assume that the chemistry is due to their relationship - e.g. Russell also had great chemistry with Stallone in Tango & Cash and they certainly weren't dating.

Reason two - the cast. No, I'm not just talking about the leads here. Hawn, Russell, Harris and Lahti are all very good but this is a film filled with great people in numerous small roles. Fred Ward reminds everyone of just how great he can be, Holly Hunter doesn't do too much but doesn't do it badly either, Reid Cruickshanks is one of those men that you think you don't know but you recognise as soon as he appears, Stephen Tobolowsky gets to be in the movie for about a minute and there's even a small role for Roger Corman. Belinda Carlisle even pops up as, of course, a singer. Blink and you might miss her but she IS there.

Reason three - wait, I said a couple of reasons. The two reasons above. Those are all that I can think of just now.

The movie looks okay, it's paced just right and the characters are, by and large, good fun to hang out with but the script doesn't exactly sizzle and there's nothing that feels really . . . . . . special. The direction from Demme is okay, I suppose, but he's done a much better job with most of his other movies, which can also be said for everyone else involved. Not exactly a ringing endorsement.


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