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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Sex > Counterculture > American Swing (2008/Unrated Documentary/Magnolia DVD)

American Swing (2008/Unrated Documentary/Magnolia DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Film: C+



In what has become a cycle of documentaries on sexuality, the Mathew Kaufmann/Jon Hart entry American Swing shows the rise and fall of the 1970s swingers movement (forget the Jon Favreau film, as that one does not apply here) where couples were exchanging sex partners, including and often those who were married.  Talk about being bored!


Nevertheless, this was the last years of the pre-AIDS era and like anything else before on sex that had not been out in the open, this was yet another avenue widely exposed.  The rise and fall of this movement is well-covered in this documentary and the makers focus on the epicenter of the movement’s peak.  That would be a club called Plato’s Retreat in New York and its owner, Larry Levinson.  He claimed he was running a non-profit organization to make people happy, but like so much shown here, it was a façade and self-induced fantasy on the part of Levinson and just about anyone involved.


Amazingly, many of the active participants lived to tell the tale, though many got sick, died of other causes and a few…   Well, this runs 81 minutes, yet seems to drag on and become uneven early on.  Why?  Because despite the story to tell, everyone involved seems burned out and for all the sex that took place, most seem to have started that way.  It is shocking and amusing at times, but most of the time, it is flat.  It is a key record of the time, but when all is said and done, one of the least exciting aspects of the counterculture that was.  Only see it if you are at least curious.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is varied throughout with newly taped interviews, stills and much varied stock footage on film and old analog NTSC videotape.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo mixes are all dialogue based and except for added music, the surrounds are barely active, while other older audio is monophonic and shows its age.  Extras include deleted scenes with more interview footage and Ron Jeremy has even more to say about the whole thing.  Yes, he was there too and survived.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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