Swing Shift

January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

The real-life love affair between Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn began some twenty years ago on a little film named “Swing Shift’. The film, a somewhat deviant retelling of the days of World War II, didn’t do well at the box office and though it had some favorable reviews, is something that seemed to dissipate with time. All of this aside, though, the movie did have all of the right elements. Helmed by none other than Jonathan Demme (best known for his work behind the camera in “The Silence of the Lambs” and “Philadelphia”), this was years before he would make either of those films. Hawn, the biggest star of the bunch at the time, had her differences with Demme and each thought that the film should be in their own vision. The result wasn’t that great. Nothing against “Swing Shift”, as I found it enjoyable, a nice way to spend a couple of hours anyway, but it’s not going to be on any Top 10 lists (and wasn’t) either. The main draw with the film, in hindsight, was the cast. Christine Lahti won an Academy Award nomination for her role and the film introduces us to a little-known Holly Hunter. Fred Ward and Ed Harris add even more star power as they have both become major stars since the release of this film (and they re-teamed from their performance the year earlier in “The Right Stuff”).

Hawn plays Kay Walsh, a housewife that saw her husband (Ed Harris) enlist in the war effort after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. As we now know, “Rosie the Riveter” was the name given to the housewives who went to work in factories when their husbands were off at war; Kay was one of these women. As the war progresses, the friends of Kay start to lose their husbands in battle. Kay has no information on her husband and fears the worst. She starts to have an affair with the local musician, Lucky (Kurt Russell), feeling that he might be her new husband should hers not return. However he does return and the love triangle gets a bit complicated. It’s no secret that Hawn and Russell started dating after this movie and they’re still together (though not married officially). There’s a bit more spark than in other efforts, like “Overboard” which I personally found more enjoyable, here than other films. Christine Lahti won the most critical praise and was rewarded with an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress (though she lost to Peggy Ashcroft for “A Passage to India”). So while the movie has its flaws, if you’re a fan of Hawn and Russell, then odds are you’ll be right at home here.

Video: How does it look?

The 1.85:1 anamorphic print used here isn’t the best. The film is twenty years old now, but other films from the same era have looked remarkably better. Though there’s nothing too glaring that just stands out as being horrid, Warner has set the bar so high that it’s hard to imagine when a transfer is sub-standard. The image seems a bit muted and even very weak in some points. Though artifacting isn’t really a problem, edge enhancement is in some scenes. The overall clarity of the print is good, and it’s an understatement to say that this is the best the film has ever looked, I suppose I was expecting a bit better.

Audio: How does it sound?

The Dolby Digital mono track serves its purpose here, plain and simple. The track won’t blow you away, but then again it wasn’t supposed to. There are some music scenes that sound fairly decent and the mainly dialogue-driven nature of the film makes it bearable, but the track as a whole is just average. The range on some of the scenes seems a bit dated, thereby dating the movie.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Only a trailer for the film is included.

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