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Swing Shift (1984)

 -  Comedy | Drama  -  13 April 1984 (USA)
5.9
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Ratings: 5.9/10 from 2,682 users  
Reviews: 24 user | 9 critic

A woman finds romance when she takes a job at an airport plant to help make ends meet after her husband goes off to war.

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Title: Swing Shift (1984)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Kay Walsh
...
Mike 'Lucky' Lockhart
...
...
Archibald 'Biscuits' Touie
...
Jack Walsh
Sudie Bond ...
Annie
...
Jeannie
Patty Maloney ...
Laverne
...
Violet
...
Edith
...
Johnny Bonnaro
Morris 'Tex' Biggs ...
Clarence
Reid Cruickshanks ...
Spike
Danny Darst ...
Deacon (as Daniel Dean Darst)
...
Rupert George
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Storyline

In 1941 America Kay and her husband are happy enough until he enlists after Pearl Harbor. Against his wishes, his wife takes a job at the local aircraft plant where she meets Hazel, the singer from across the way to whom she hadn't previously been all that nice. The two soon become firm friends and with the other girls become increasingly expert workers able to ride the jibes of the male workforce. As the war drags on Kay finally goes on a date with her trumpet playing foreman and life inevitably starts to get complicated. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

When America marched off to war the women marched into the factory. From then on...nothing was the same.

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

13 April 1984 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tjejen som jobbade skift  »

Box Office

Gross:

$6,700,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The blouse Christine Lahti wears in the confrontation scene with Hawn, emblazoned with a musical staff and notes was originally worn by an extra in Mommie Dearest. See more »

Goofs

When the service men are boarding the bus, and Goldie Hawn is saying goodbye to her husband, a man appears with a megaphone to announce the bus is departing. His megaphone is a self-contained transistor one which was not available in 1941. See more »

Quotes

[final lines]
Kay Walsh: Hazel... we showed 'um didn't we.
Hazel: Boy, did we ever.
[both hug and cry]
See more »


Soundtracks

Why Don't You Do Right?
Written by Joe McCoy
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User Reviews

 
Goldie Hawn Shines: A World Suddenly Inverted

"Swing Shift," director Jonathan Demme's sensitive story about women who went to war with a rivet gun, begins the night before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Living in modest California bungalows, Kay Walsh (Goldie Hawn) and her husband, Jack (Ed Harris) live a simple and enjoyable life. Everything is suddenly changed with the Sunday afternoon announcement of the devastating assault on the Pacific Fleet and the Army Air Corps bases in Hawaii.

Jack enlists immediately as do many of the couple's neighbors and friends. Alone, bored and motivated by genuine patriotism Kay goes to work at an aircraft plant that builds the tough, reliable SBD carrier-borne dive bomber. She strikes up, awkwardly at first, a friendship with neighbor Hazel (Christine Lahti), a woman with a nightclub-owning boyfriend. Jack had made some nasty not sotto voce cracks about her before he left for war.

Kay takes to the assembly line and enjoys being productive. But she's also lonely - it was a long war. Her "leadman," a sort of foreman, is "Lucky" (Kurt Russell). He and she begin a friendship that culminates in one of those wartime affairs that happened very often and is realistically portrayed by Hawn who is torn between marital fidelity and loneliness (and, obviously, dealing with separation-enforced abstinence).

Lucky is a 4-F. That meant he was "physically, mentally or morally unfit" for military service. In his case - phew - it's a latent heart condition.

The affair goes through various stages, punctuated by Jack's surprise arrival on a forty-eight hour pass. Whatever suspecting his wife is having it on with Lucky may do to him, he's also both bemused and confused that as a "leadman," (she's been promoted) she earns more in a factory than he does serving in the Fleet. Harris's portrayal is of a man on the cusp of a social change he feels but can't really identify.

There are a lot of ups and downs in this story but Hawn and Lahti in particular deliver strongly emotional and convincing performances. This was long before women could rise to general officer or flag officer rank and assume major wartime responsibilities. Hawn is Rosie the Riveter, the patriotic but largely uneducated and unskilled patriotic American female. There were tens of thousands of such women employed in every type of industrial work.

Obviously the absence of husbands and the surfeit of available albeit older or not totally fit men aided the initiation of extramarital affairs. But "Swing Shift" also subtly conveys the reality that the women who went to work were empowered by the global conflict. Despite an ending that affirms the women's promise and duty to relinquish employment to returning veterans (the promise was unnecessary since both law and custom insured their rapid dismissal), American women were fundamentally changed by the liberating reality of serving their country by working (often for the first time) and earning money. The political, economic and social reverberations would be felt for decades. "Swing Shift" is fine entertainment but it's also a chronicle of an important aspect of America's Home Front.

A fine movie. Available on DVD in a good transfer with no real special features.

9/10.


21 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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