American Swing Image

Mixed or average reviews - based on 9 Critics What's this?

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  • Summary: The year was 1977 and New York City burned. As the metropolis hurtled into bankruptcy, the city's nightlife hit unprecedented heights. In midtown, the ultra-exclusive Studio 54 was a cocaine-fueled celebrity clubhouse. Downtown, at the spartan CBGB’s, punk rockers set out to destroy everything Pop. Meanwhile, in the basement of the prestigious Ansonia building on the conservative Upper West Side, Plato's Retreat opened its doors to ordinary couples who came to dance, to swim, and… to swap. It was the start of a revolution. The brainchild of former wholesale meat purveyor Larry Levenson, Plato’s Retreat quickly emerged as the epicenter of public sex for the “me” generation. Previously, swinging was mostly an underground activity, engaged in primarily by the attractive and the well-to-do. But Plato's welcomed anyone and everyone. For a mere $35, couples checked their judgments and pedigrees at the door of this clothing-optional Disneyland. Debutantes got it on next to bus drivers, as movie stars gave secretaries the “starlet treatment.” For Levenson and others, Plato's was a utopia. For some, it is a time capsule that they are eager to forget. Utilizing exclusive interviews with former patrons, employees, and family members, intercut with riveting, never-before-seen archival materials, “American Swing" brings this little-known epic of sex and excess to the big screen for the first time. (Magnolia) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 9
  2. Negative: 0 out of 9
  1. Plato's Retreat was a buffet of bodies, and the film catches the moment America could think that was tasty.
  2. 75
    American Swing could use the flair of similar portraits of disco-era debauchery like "Boogie Nights" or "Inside Deep Throat," but it’s even-handed in capturing the operation’s ambition and hubris. Just don’t bring an appetite.
  3. 75
    Doesn't have a particularly well-defined point of view, but it is a succinct, entertaining and valuable record of a time that in some ways now seems as remote as the Roaring '20s.
  4. Directors Jon Hart and Matthew Kaufman don’t delve deeply enough into the psyche of club founder Larry Levenson or the culture he exploited. But they do present an entertaining snapshot of his brief reign as New York’s self-appointed King of Swing.
  5. The film tries--and fails--to swing both ways, nostalgically glorifying its subject only to smugly revel in Levenson's ignominious demise.
  6. Reviewed by: Robert Abele
    But even a comic spin on grimace-inducing tales of the icky buffet, the "mattress room" (whatever you're imagining, that's it) and Levenson's own buffoonish image as a 10-ladies-a-night player -- "He never read a book," Al Goldstein cracks -- can't keep an unexplored sadness from slithering in amid the orgy of upbeat testimonials.
  7. It leaves you feeling queasy.

See all 9 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. BillW.
    Mar 27, 2009
    The New York Daily News gave this three stars and yet the score in the list is only a 60 for that review. I thought three-star reviews were given a 75 score. Can you check this? The mislabeling of the review brought the overall score down to a 60 when it should be much higher. Expand
  2. DanteB.
    Mar 30, 2009
    I liked it alot. Obviously, there wasn't a huge budget but the story and people were engrossing enough to carry the film. i thought some of the critics got it wrong. This movie defies them precisely because it is a just-do-it philosophy, it doesn't try to present a political or societal point of view, which I quite enjoyed. Sex used to be fun without all the head trips. Collapse