Swing Shift (1984)

PG | 100 mins | Comedy-drama, Romance | 13 April 1984

Director:

Jonathan Demme

Writer:

Rob Morton

Producer:

Jerry Bick

Cinematographer:

Tak Fujimoto

Editor:

Craig McKay

Production Designer:

Peter Jamison

Production Companies:

Warner Bros. Pictures , Lantana Productions
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HISTORY

On 20 Jun 1975, HR announced that Paramount Pictures production executive Richard Sylbert and Jerry Bick Productions planned to develop Swing Shift, an original screenplay by Nancy Dowd. The following year, the 15 Dec 1976 DV reported that Sylbert intended to step down from his position to produce the film independently at the studio, with Michael Eisner assuming his former post. According to the 4 May 1984 NYT, actress Julie Christie, director Mike Nichols, and producer David Susskind expressed interest in the project, which focused on the central characters of “Lucky Lockhart” and “Rosie,” who was later rewritten as “Hazel Zanussi.”
       Dowd, however, was reportedly displeased with the studio’s treatment of the script and spent the next several years attempting to move the property elsewhere. Despite Eisner’s promises that the project would not go into turnaround without Dowd’s permission, Swing Shift moved to United Artists (UA) in the late 1970s. A 19 Mar 1981 DV news item stated that Dowd filed a lawsuit against Bick, Eisner, and Paramount, requesting an injunction to halt the film’s production and at least $500,000 for violating their oral contract. UA claimed that dropping the project would cause “irreparable damage” to the studio, and Bo Goldman was hired to rewrite the screenplay.
       At this time, Jonathan Demme signed on to direct, with Goldie Hawn serving as both star and executive producer through The Hawn/Sylbert Movie Company, which she co-founded with costume designer Anthea Sylbert. According to a 22 May 1983 NYT article, Demme was attracted to the story because his grandmother had worked the swing shift an aircraft manufacturing plant ... More Less

On 20 Jun 1975, HR announced that Paramount Pictures production executive Richard Sylbert and Jerry Bick Productions planned to develop Swing Shift, an original screenplay by Nancy Dowd. The following year, the 15 Dec 1976 DV reported that Sylbert intended to step down from his position to produce the film independently at the studio, with Michael Eisner assuming his former post. According to the 4 May 1984 NYT, actress Julie Christie, director Mike Nichols, and producer David Susskind expressed interest in the project, which focused on the central characters of “Lucky Lockhart” and “Rosie,” who was later rewritten as “Hazel Zanussi.”
       Dowd, however, was reportedly displeased with the studio’s treatment of the script and spent the next several years attempting to move the property elsewhere. Despite Eisner’s promises that the project would not go into turnaround without Dowd’s permission, Swing Shift moved to United Artists (UA) in the late 1970s. A 19 Mar 1981 DV news item stated that Dowd filed a lawsuit against Bick, Eisner, and Paramount, requesting an injunction to halt the film’s production and at least $500,000 for violating their oral contract. UA claimed that dropping the project would cause “irreparable damage” to the studio, and Bo Goldman was hired to rewrite the screenplay.
       At this time, Jonathan Demme signed on to direct, with Goldie Hawn serving as both star and executive producer through The Hawn/Sylbert Movie Company, which she co-founded with costume designer Anthea Sylbert. According to a 22 May 1983 NYT article, Demme was attracted to the story because his grandmother had worked the swing shift an aircraft manufacturing plant in Long Island, NY. Demme’s grandfather played drums at a venue called Kelly’s Bright Spot, which became the inspiration for the bar where trumpeter Lucky Lockhart frequently performs in the film.
       A 17 Dec 1982 HR article attributed additional revisions to Ron Nyswaner, which the 4 May 1984 NYT claimed restructured the script so that Hawn’s character, “Kay Walsh,” was elevated to the leading role. While Demme estimated a budget of no more than $10 million, the figure eventually ballooned to $20 million, prompting UA to withdraw. In addition to the inflated cost, Bick and Demme cited disagreements over the subject matter: While the studio pushed for a lighter tone more reminiscent of Hawn’s 1980 hit, Private Benjamin (see entry), Demme doubted the willingness of the male-dominated entertainment industry to support a film about assertive women.
       As a result, Hawn appealed to Warner Bros., which financed Private Benjamin and her latest comedic vehicle, Best Friends (1982, see entry). With the budget reduced to $14 million, Warner Bros. signed a co-financing deal with Lantana Productions and set a tentative release date for Christmas 1983.
       According to a 24 Aug 1981 HR article, Demme had considered casting singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen as Lucky, while the 27 Feb 1989 issue of People magazine revealed that actress Mary Steenburgen was originally hired to play Hazel. When Steenburgen was forced to relinquish the role due to pregnancy, she recommended her friend, Christine Lahti, as her replacement.
       A 24 Feb 1983 HR item indicated that principal photography was scheduled to begin 28 Feb 1983. As reported by the 22 May 1983 NYT, two months of steady rain in Southern California nearly destroyed a set built on the Santa Monica Pier and delayed shooting of the film’s opening roller rink sequence until late Mar 1983. Production notes in AMPAS library files state that the Hughes Helicopters factory in Culver City doubled as the “MacBride Aircraft Company.” Interiors were shot at the abandoned Byron-Jackson Pump Company warehouse in the Los Angeles suburb of Vernon, which housed thirty vintage airplanes that had been shipped from a private contractor in Florida specially for the film. For scenes depicting Kay's domestic life, a bungalow-style apartment complex in San Pedro was duplicated to scale at Burbank Studiosdios. Additional locations included the USS Lang, a frigate docked at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard; San Pedro's Fort MacArthur and Cabrillo Beach; the HON Industries manufacturing plant in Los Angeles; the Huntington-Sheraton Hotel in Pasadena; and the Masonic Temple in Long Beach. A 2 Jun 1983 DV item announced the completion of production.
       While Demme’s initial cut of the film focused the friendship between Kay and Hazel, a 27 Apr 1984 LAHEXam article suggested that Hawn felt she had been “upstaged” by her relatively unknown co-star, and ordered additional scenes from screenwriter Robert Towne in Dec 1983. According to the 3 Feb 1984 LAT, the new pages were intended to make Hawn’s character “more sympathetic” and emphasize her onscreen love triangle with Kurt Russell and Ed Harris. The changes brought the total cost to $15--$17 million and pushed the Feb 1984 release date to 13 Apr 1984.
       During re-shoots, Demme professed he was “profoundly disappointed” by the material, and felt that only two of the additional thirty minutes were suitable to include in the final cut. After testing Demme’s version of the film, Warner Bros. sided with Hawn, who was under contract with the studio for at least two more films. The director and editor Craig McKay walked away from the project and the studio completed editing. Bruce Langhorne’s swing-inspired score was replaced with music by composer Patrick Williams.
       While Demme and McKay retain onscreen credit, Demme chose to have the phrase, “A Jonathan Demme Film,” removed from the picture and all promotional materials. According to the 4 May 1984 NYT, Nancy Dowd was awarded sole screenplay credit after filing an arbitration with the Writers Guild of America (WGA). However, due to her displeasure with the theatrical cut, she requested to be credited under the pseudonym, “Rob Morton.”
       Swing Shift was a critical and commercial disappointment. The Jun 1984 Box listed an opening weekend gross of just $2.3 million from 710 theaters.
       Despite lackluster reviews, however, Christine Lahti received an Academy Award nomination for Actress in a Supporting Role.
       End credits state: “December 7, 1941 Broadcast by Eleanor Roosevelt Courtesy of NBC,” and, “With Special Thanks to: Hughes Helicopters, Inc.; U.S. Navy; U.S. Air Force; California Motion Picture Council; and the City of Los Angeles Motion Picture Coordination Office.”
       The film uses the following songs that are not included in onscreen music credits: “There’s A Brand New Picture In My Picture Frame,” by Dick Jurgens; “I’ll Be Seeing You,” by Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal; and “Skylark,” by Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Jun 1984
Section R, p. 70.
Daily Variety
15 Dec 1976.
---
Daily Variety
19 Mar 1981.
---
Daily Variety
10 Mar 1983
p. 20, 26.
Daily Variety
18 Mar 1983.
---
Daily Variety
2 Jun 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jun 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Aug 1981
p. 1, 13.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Dec 1982
p. 1, 41.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Feb 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Apr 1984
p. 6, 45.
LAHExam
27 Apr 1984
Section A, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
3 Feb 1984.
---
Los Angeles Times
13 Apr 1984
Section J, p. 1, 10.
New York Times
22 May 1983
p. 21, 31.
New York Times
13 Apr 1984
p. 13.
New York Times
4 May 1984.
---
People
27 Feb 1989.
---
Variety
18 Apr 1984
p. 10.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Warner Bros. Pictures Presents
A Lantana Production
in association with The Hawn/Sylbert Movie Company and Jerry Bick Productions
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d asst cam
Still photog
Key grip
Grip best boy
Dolly grip
Elec best boy
Elec best boy
Chief rigging elec
2d company grip
Dolly grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Key illustrator
Storyboard illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Addl film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Prop master
Asst prop master
Standby painter
Const coord
Set des
Set des
Set des
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Const foreman
Const foreman
Const foreman
Const foreman
Labor foreman
Paint coord
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
COSTUMES
Cost des
Men's cost supv
Women's cost supv
Costumer
Costumer
Women's costumer
MUSIC
Orig mus
Mus ed
Orch for Patrick Williams
Orch for Patrick Williams
Orch for Patrick Williams
Mus by, Addl orig songs
Lyrics by, Addl orig songs
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd mixer
Boom man
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Post-prod dial
Cableman
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Titles and opticals
Titles des by
Spec eff
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Loc mgr
Scr supv
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Asst to Mr. Demme
Asst to Mr. Bick
Prod secy
Personal asst to Goldie Hawn
Unit pub
Asst to exec prods
Chief operating officer-Hawn/Sylbert Movie Co.
Asst to Sylbert
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Craft service
First aid
Contract admin
Casting secy
Extras, Central Casting
Extras, Central Casting
Driver-Goldie Hawn
Driver-Honeywagon
Caterer
Office asst
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Someone Waits For You," performed by Carly Simon, produced by Richard Perry, music by Peter Allen, lyrics by Will Jennings.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
13 April 1984
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 13 April 1984
Production Date:
28 February--late May or early June 1983
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers, Inc.
Copyright Date:
15 June 1984
Copyright Number:
PA214509
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
100
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27363
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Jack Walsh enlists in the U.S. Navy, leaving behind his devoted wife, Kay, in their Southern California bungalow. Growing despondent in his absence, Kay secures a job at the MacBride Aircraft Company in Santa Monica, assembling airplanes during the “swing shift” hours of 4:00 pm to midnight. At orientation, she recognizes her neighbor, nightclub singer Hazel Zanussi, but Hazel coldly rebuffs Kay’s greeting, claiming that Jack has never been friendly to her. Her first day on the job, Kay nearly injures her leadman, aspiring trumpet player “Lucky” Lockhart, which rattles her confidence. At the end of the shift, Lucky gives Kay a lift home on his motorcycle while Hazel opts to ride her bicycle. On the road, Hazel encounters her philandering boss and sometimes lover, Egyptian Ballroom owner Archibald “Biscuits” Toohey, who damages her bicycle out of concern for her safety. Distraught, Hazel cries in the bungalow court, and Kay allows her to spend the night on her couch. Over the next five months, the women develop a close friendship and work together to stand up against their male coworkers’ rampant sexism. Meanwhile, Lucky aggressively pursues Kay, ignoring her objections that she is married. In late 1942, MacBride throws a company party at the Egyptian Ballroom. While Hazel doggedly avoids Biscuits, Kay finds herself entranced by Lucky’s trumpet playing and allows him to drive her home. After inviting him inside, Kay succumbs to Lucky’s advances and they spend the night together. In bed the next morning, Lucky admits he suffers a heart condition that prevents him from fighting overseas. Although Kay feels guilty for cheating on Jack, she and ... +


After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Jack Walsh enlists in the U.S. Navy, leaving behind his devoted wife, Kay, in their Southern California bungalow. Growing despondent in his absence, Kay secures a job at the MacBride Aircraft Company in Santa Monica, assembling airplanes during the “swing shift” hours of 4:00 pm to midnight. At orientation, she recognizes her neighbor, nightclub singer Hazel Zanussi, but Hazel coldly rebuffs Kay’s greeting, claiming that Jack has never been friendly to her. Her first day on the job, Kay nearly injures her leadman, aspiring trumpet player “Lucky” Lockhart, which rattles her confidence. At the end of the shift, Lucky gives Kay a lift home on his motorcycle while Hazel opts to ride her bicycle. On the road, Hazel encounters her philandering boss and sometimes lover, Egyptian Ballroom owner Archibald “Biscuits” Toohey, who damages her bicycle out of concern for her safety. Distraught, Hazel cries in the bungalow court, and Kay allows her to spend the night on her couch. Over the next five months, the women develop a close friendship and work together to stand up against their male coworkers’ rampant sexism. Meanwhile, Lucky aggressively pursues Kay, ignoring her objections that she is married. In late 1942, MacBride throws a company party at the Egyptian Ballroom. While Hazel doggedly avoids Biscuits, Kay finds herself entranced by Lucky’s trumpet playing and allows him to drive her home. After inviting him inside, Kay succumbs to Lucky’s advances and they spend the night together. In bed the next morning, Lucky admits he suffers a heart condition that prevents him from fighting overseas. Although Kay feels guilty for cheating on Jack, she and Lucky continue their relationship. After saving a coworker’s life on the job, Kay is promoted to leadman. At a New Year’s Eve party, Biscuits apologizes to Hazel for their troubled past and announces he is shipping out with the Navy that evening. In the spring of 1944, Jack unexpectedly returns home on shore leave and quickly suspects Kay’s affair. Kay admits she has changed during his time away, and Jack returns to war with a broken heart. Assuming Kay has gone back to her husband, Lucky seduces Hazel. The incident causes a rift to develop between the two friends, culminating in a drunken fight outside a bar. The next morning, Lucky leaves to join his band on a national tour. Once Japan surrenders and the troops return, MacBride encourages all female employees to resume their former roles as housewives. Biscuits begs for Hazel’s forgiveness, and Kay apologizes to Jack for her infidelity. Sometime later, Hazel and Biscuits marry and plan to move to the suburbs. While attending a former coworker’s baby shower, Hazel and Kay reconcile in a tearful embrace. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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