Jack and Kay Walsh are typical of many couples of the 1940s, where he is the breadwinner and she the housewife dependent upon him to do the man’s duties around the house. Jack believes one of their neighbors in the housing complex in which they live in Los Angeles is white trash – he letting her know so at every opportunity, while Kay is quietly curious about her.
That neighbor is streetwise Hazel Zanussi, an aspiring singer who does get a chance to sing on occasion at the club managed by her casual boyfriend, Biscuits Toohey, although he relegates her to being one of the taxi dancers more often against her wants, while he cheats on her behind her back despite truly having feelings for her. Hazel just wants to make an honest living. Their worlds are turned upside down on December 7, 1941 when the US enters WWII with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Jack immediately enlists in the Navy, and while he will send money home, his decision leaves Kay largely to fend for herself.
Swing Shift is a 1984 American romantic drama war film directed by Jonathan Demme and produced by and starring Goldie Hawn with Kurt Russell. It also starred Christine Lahti, Fred Ward and Ed Harris. Lahti earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her tragic portrayal of heart-broken ex-singer and Hawn’s character’s close friend Hazel, losing to Peggy Ashcroft for A Passage to India. Singer Belinda Carlisle made a foray into the film, and Holly Hunter can be seen in one of her first movie roles.
Swing Shift has become a case study for a star/producer/director conflict. Hawn and Russell saw the film as a lighthearted vehicle while the director Demme attempted to create a more serious film. Hawn and Warner Brothers requested a recut and partial re-shooting in order to get the movie they had hired Demme to film. Demme’s director’s cut exists on bootleg VHS only. Both cuts run 100 minutes.
Swing Shift (1984)
Directed by: Jonathan Demme
Starring: Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Christine Lahti, Fred Ward, Sudie Bond, Ed Harris, Holly Hunter, Lisa Pelikan, Patty Maloney, Susan Peretz
Screenplay by: Nancy Dowd
Production Design by: Peter Jamison
Cinematography by: Tak Fujimoto
Film Editing by: Craig McKay
Costume Design by: Joe I. Tompkins
Set Decoration by: Jeff Haley, R. Chris Westlund
Art Direction by: Bo Welch
Music by: Patrick Williams
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: April 13, 1984