Swing Kids (1993)

PG-13 | 112 mins | Drama | 5 March 1993

Director:

Thomas Carter

Cinematographer:

Jerzy Zielinski

Production Designer:

Allan Cameron

Production Companies:

Hollywood Pictures , Touchwood Pacific Partners I
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HISTORY

Opening titles are preceded by the following written prologue: “In the late 1930’s there was a new movement on the rise among the teenagers of Hamburg, Germany. Its followers refused to join the Nazi youth organization, the Hitler Jugend—known as the H.J. They wore their hair long and were obsessed by American movies, British fashion, and Swing music. They called themselves Swing Kids.” The film concludes with the epilogue: “Hundreds of Swing Kids were sent to work camps. Thousands more were forced into the army and died in the war. But the movement continued to grow, and a new generation of Swing Kids survived to see the defeat of the Nazis.”
       End credits state: “The Filmmakers gratefully acknowledge the creative support of The Sundance Institute"; and “Filmed at Barrandov Film Studios and on location in Prague, Czechoslovakia.”
       Although Kenneth Branagh appears in a supporting role, the 21 Feb 1993 LAT reported that the actor opted to receive no onscreen credit instead of being billed above the lesser-known members of the principal cast, Robert Sean Leonard and Christian Bale.
       Production notes in AMPAS library files stated that writer Jonathan Marc Feldman began developing Swing Kids with producers Mark Gordon and John Bard Manulis after reading an article about the true stories of rebellious German youths in an historical journal. An 18 Apr 1991 DV article announced that Frank Marshall ended his producing partnership with Steven Spielberg at Amblin’ Entertainment in order to focus on a career in directing, which would include Swing Kids. Marshall’s wife, Kathleen Kennedy, who retained her own contract with Amblin’, would serve as executive producer on ... More Less

Opening titles are preceded by the following written prologue: “In the late 1930’s there was a new movement on the rise among the teenagers of Hamburg, Germany. Its followers refused to join the Nazi youth organization, the Hitler Jugend—known as the H.J. They wore their hair long and were obsessed by American movies, British fashion, and Swing music. They called themselves Swing Kids.” The film concludes with the epilogue: “Hundreds of Swing Kids were sent to work camps. Thousands more were forced into the army and died in the war. But the movement continued to grow, and a new generation of Swing Kids survived to see the defeat of the Nazis.”
       End credits state: “The Filmmakers gratefully acknowledge the creative support of The Sundance Institute"; and “Filmed at Barrandov Film Studios and on location in Prague, Czechoslovakia.”
       Although Kenneth Branagh appears in a supporting role, the 21 Feb 1993 LAT reported that the actor opted to receive no onscreen credit instead of being billed above the lesser-known members of the principal cast, Robert Sean Leonard and Christian Bale.
       Production notes in AMPAS library files stated that writer Jonathan Marc Feldman began developing Swing Kids with producers Mark Gordon and John Bard Manulis after reading an article about the true stories of rebellious German youths in an historical journal. An 18 Apr 1991 DV article announced that Frank Marshall ended his producing partnership with Steven Spielberg at Amblin’ Entertainment in order to focus on a career in directing, which would include Swing Kids. Marshall’s wife, Kathleen Kennedy, who retained her own contract with Amblin’, would serve as executive producer on the $15 million project. However, the 12 Sep 1991 DV stated that Marshall dropped out of Swing Kids to direct Alive (1993, see entry) for Touchstone Pictures. Meanwhile, Mark Gordon signed a “first-look” deal to relocate his unnamed independent film company from Orion Pictures to Hollywood Pictures, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company. To replace Marshall, Gordon and Manulis hired television director Thomas Carter to make his feature film directing debut.
       After scouting five countries in ten days, filmmakers chose Prague, Czechoslovakia, over locations in Budapest, Hungary, and Berlin and Hamburg, Germany. Co-producer Harry Benn had previous experience working in the country on 1991’s Kafka (see entry), and began assembling a crew. The 17 Apr 1992 Screen International indicated that roughly twenty percent of the film was shot at Prague’s Barrandov Studios, and estimated the revised budget at $12 million.
       Although various contemporary sources cited production start dates of Jan 1991 and mid-Feb 1991, 4 Feb 1992 HR production charts and production notes confirmed that principal photography began 3 Feb 1992, and concluded after a week of night shooting on 10 Apr 1993. Four large sets were built inside Barandov Studios, with approximately sixty additional locations around Prague, including an Embassy home, a Czech school, the Prague Library, the city street market, and the Hotel Europa in Wenceslas Square. After some difficulty locating a dance hall large enough to accommodate 300 dancers and background actors, filmmakers eventually found a working theater to double as “Café Bismarck.” Because some of the casting took place after filming began, costume designer Jenny Beavan did not create sketches, but instead hand-selected the Swing Kids’ garments in London, England, and dressed the actors accordingly. Actor Robert Sean Leonard was selected to play “Peter Muller” after Carter and producers saw him in a West End theatrical stage production of Our Town. Postproduction took place in the U.S.
       The film marked the motion picture debut of Jessica Hynes, who is credited onscreen as Jessica Stevenson.
       A 28 Feb 1993 Long Beach Press-Telegram story indicated that Carter was displeased with the “sugarcoated” promotional trailers released by Disney’s Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc., which minimized the presence of Nazism in the story. Upon its 5 Mar 1993 release, however, many reviews, including the 8 Mar 1993 Var, criticized the script’s “hollow” presentation of the subject matter and melodramatic tone.


Academic Network University of Washington, Seattle; student: Verena Kick [email protected]; Advisor: Jennifer M. Bean [email protected] SBC 4/3/12. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
18 Apr 1991
p. 1, 16.
Daily Variety
12 Sep 1991
p. 1, 14.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Sep 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Feb 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Mar 1993
p. 10, 44.
Long Beach Press-Telegram
28 Feb 1993.
---
Los Angeles Times
21 Feb 1993
p. 24, 27.
Los Angeles Times
5 Mar 1993
Section F, p. 4.
New York Times
5 Mar 1993
p. 8.
Screen International
31 Jan 1992.
---
Screen International
17 Apr 1992.
---
Variety
8 Mar 1993
p. 60.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Hollywood Pictures presents
in association with Touchwood Pacific Partners I
A Thomas Carter Film
A John Bard Manulis Mark Gordon Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Trainee
Prod mgr, Czech crew
Asst dir, Czech crew
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Clapper/Loader
2d unit cam
Steadicam op
Dolly grip
Python crane grip
Floor video op
Lighting gaffer
Best boy
Generator op
Lighting equip supplied by
Stills photog
2d unit cam asst, Czech crew
Lighting gaffer, Czech crew
Best boy, Czech crew
Elec, Czech crew
Elec, Czech crew
Elec, Czech crew
Grip, Czech crew
Grip, Czech crew
Grip, Czech crew
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dir
Storyboard artist
Art dir, Czech crew
Asst art dir, Czech crew
FILM EDITORS
Addl film ed
Addl film ed
Addl film ed
1st asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed, Prague
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Prod buyer
Const coord
Standby painter
Rigger
Rigger, Czech crew
Prop master, Czech crew
Const mgr, Czech crew
Const mgr, Czech crew
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Ward master
Ward mistress, Czech crew
Ward asst, Czech crew
Ward asst, Czech crew
Ward asst, Czech crew
MUSIC
Mus comp
Supv mus ed
Supv mus ed
Mus ed
Mus scoring mixer
Cond by
Orch contractor
Vocal contractor
Score rec at
Exec mus prod
Re-recs prod by
Swing consultant
Swing arr
Swing mus coord and contractor
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
Cableman
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Supv ADR ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Voice casting
ADR mixer
Foley mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Title des
Titles & opticals
Spec eff asst, Czech crew
DANCE
Choreog
Asst choreog
Asst choreog
Dance coord
Featured dancer
Featured dancer
Featured dancer
Featured dancer
Featured dancer
Featured dancer
Featured dancer
Featured dancer
Featured dancer
Featured dancer
Featured dancer
Featured dancer
Featured dancer
Featured dancer
Featured dancer
Featured dancer
Featured dancer
Featured dancer
Featured dancer
Featured dancer
Featured dancer
Featured dancer
Featured dancer
Featured dancer
MAKEUP
Chief makeup artist
Chief hairdresser
Hairdresser
Makeup artist, Czech crew
Hairdresser, Czech crew
Hairdresser, Czech crew
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Dial coach
UK casting
UK casting
UK casting assoc
US casting assoc
US casting assoc
Scr supv
Prod coord
London coord
Stock footage res
Asst to Mr. Carter
Asst to Mr. Gordon and Mr. Manulis
Asst to Mr. Gordon and Mr. Manulis
Asst to Mr. Gordon and Mr. Manulis, Prague
Prod asst, LA
Prod asst, LA
Prod asst, LA
Prod asst, LA
Prod asst, LA
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Unit pub
Transportation capt, UK
Tech adv
German military adv, Prague
German military adv, UK
Prod supv for Barrandov Film Studios, Czech crew
Casting, Czech crew
Asst prod mgr, Czech crew
Asst prod mgr, Czech crew
Loc mgr, Czech crew
Loc mgr, Czech crew
Prod asst, Czech crew
Prod accountant, Czech crew
Asst accountant, Czech crew
Prod secy, Czech crew
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Militarmarsch," written by G. Trede, courtesy of Southern Music Publishing Co. Inc.
Beethoven's "Piano Trio In B Flat Major, Op. 97 'Archduke,'" performed by Alfred Cortot, Jacques Thibaud and Pablo Casals, courtesy of Angel/EMI Classics by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets
"Overture: Tristan and Isolde," written by Richard Wagner, arranged by Lee Ashley, courtesy of Ole Georg/Capitol Production Music.
SONGS
"Life Goes To A Party," written by Harry James and Benny Goodman
"Jumpin' At The Woodside," written by Count Basie
"Shout And Feel It," written by Count Basie
+
SONGS
"Life Goes To A Party," written by Harry James and Benny Goodman
"Jumpin' At The Woodside," written by Count Basie
"Shout And Feel It," written by Count Basie
"It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)," written by Duke Ellington and Irving Mills, performed by Billy Banks, courtesy of Interstate Music Ltd.
"Polka Parade," written by Chris Boardman
"'Tain't What You Do (It's The Way That You Do It)," written by Sy Oliver and James Young, performed by Jimmie Lunceford and His Orchestra, courtesy of Columbia Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
"You Go To My Head," written by Fred J. Coots and Haven Gillespie
"Bugle Call Rag," written by Billy Meyers, John Pettis and Elmer Schoebel, performed by Benny Godman, courtesy of RCA Records label of BMG Music
"Harlem," written by Eddie Carroll, performed by Teddy Foster, courtesy of Interstate Music Ltd.
"Zum Volksfest," written by P. Larare, courtesy of Southern Music Publishing Co. Inc.
"Swingtime In The Rockies," written by James Mundy and Benny Goodman, performed by Benny Goodman, courtesy of RCA Records label of BMG Music
"Flat Foot Floogee," written by Slim Gaillard, Bud Green and Slam Stewart, performed by Benny Goodman, courtesy of the RCA Records label of BMG Music
"Sing, Sing, Sing (With A Swing)," written by Louis Prima
"Daphne (Manoir De Mes Reves)," written by Django Reinhardt
"Goodnight, My Love," written by Mack Gordon and Harry Revel, performed by Benny Goodman, courtesy of RCA Records label of BMG Music
"Bei Mir Bist Du Schon (Means That You're Grand)," written by Sammy Cahn, Saul Chaplin, Jacob Jacobs and Sholom Secunda, performed by Janis Siegel, Janis Siegel appears courtesy of Columbia Records.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
5 March 1993
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 5 March 1993
New York opening: week of 5 March 1993
Production Date:
3 February--10 April 1992 in Prague, Czechoslovakia
Copyright Claimant:
Hollywood Pictures an accepted alternative of Walt Disney Company
Copyright Date:
17 March 1993
Copyright Number:
PA604257
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed with Panavision® cameras and lenses supplied by Panavision® UK
Prints
Prints by Technicolor®; Produced and distributed on Eastman Film
Duration(in mins):
112
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
32245
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1939 Hamburg, Germany, Peter Muller and Thomas Berger, two members of the anti-Nazi youth resistance known as “Swing Kids,” jive with girls in a dance hall. At the end of the night, the boys race down the street, leaving their crippled guitarist friend, Arvid, far behind. Peter and Thomas reappear, and watch, unphased, as Gestapo officers chase a man off a nearby bridge and shoot at him. The next morning, Peter’s mother warns her son about getting into trouble at the dance hall, but he assures her of his devotion to his studies pursuing an engineering degree. Outside, Peter’s younger brother, Willi, attempts to prove his worth to Peter’s group by leading them to an alleyway where members of the Hitler Jugend “HJ” youth organization are beating up a Jewish boy, who he mistakes for a fellow Swing Kid. Thomas scares the HJs away and leads his friends to school, where they trade pornographic postcards, practice American slang, and flirt with a classmate named Evey. That evening, Peter and Willi return home to find their mother being beaten by a Nazi officer. As the officer chastises Peter for his long hair, a Gestapo supervisor named Herr Knopp arrives at the door and orders him to leave. Instantly attracted to Frau Muller, he treats her wounds and sympathetically questions her about the whereabouts of her late husband’s former friends, but she affirms her loyalty to the Reich. Once Herr Knopp leaves, Willi asks Peter if their father, who fell fatally ill after months in Nazi captivity, was arrested for being a suspected communist. The next day, Peter reports to his job as a bookstore delivery boy and sees the ... +


In 1939 Hamburg, Germany, Peter Muller and Thomas Berger, two members of the anti-Nazi youth resistance known as “Swing Kids,” jive with girls in a dance hall. At the end of the night, the boys race down the street, leaving their crippled guitarist friend, Arvid, far behind. Peter and Thomas reappear, and watch, unphased, as Gestapo officers chase a man off a nearby bridge and shoot at him. The next morning, Peter’s mother warns her son about getting into trouble at the dance hall, but he assures her of his devotion to his studies pursuing an engineering degree. Outside, Peter’s younger brother, Willi, attempts to prove his worth to Peter’s group by leading them to an alleyway where members of the Hitler Jugend “HJ” youth organization are beating up a Jewish boy, who he mistakes for a fellow Swing Kid. Thomas scares the HJs away and leads his friends to school, where they trade pornographic postcards, practice American slang, and flirt with a classmate named Evey. That evening, Peter and Willi return home to find their mother being beaten by a Nazi officer. As the officer chastises Peter for his long hair, a Gestapo supervisor named Herr Knopp arrives at the door and orders him to leave. Instantly attracted to Frau Muller, he treats her wounds and sympathetically questions her about the whereabouts of her late husband’s former friends, but she affirms her loyalty to the Reich. Once Herr Knopp leaves, Willi asks Peter if their father, who fell fatally ill after months in Nazi captivity, was arrested for being a suspected communist. The next day, Peter reports to his job as a bookstore delivery boy and sees the abusive Nazi officer repossessing items from a house marked with the word “traitor.” As he drops a package at the home of a young widow named Frau Linge, he recognizes the Ludwig von Beethoven record playing in the foyer, recalling that his father was the violinist in the orchestra. Later, Peter sees Evey at the local record store and teaches her about his favorite blacklisted swing musicians. During another outing at the swing club, a group of HJs perform an inspection, forcing the dancers to quickly switch to polka music. The boys are enraged upon noticing their former swing leader, Emil, among the officers. One afternoon, an HJ passes Peter on the street and gives the secret Swing Kid “code,” prompting Peter to believe that his comrades have infiltrated the Hitler Youth. When Thomas accidentally damages one of Arvid’s phonograph records, the boy becomes irate and Thomas, frustrated by his friend’s superior attitude, retaliates by mocking his inability to dance. In the market, two Gestapo officers chase Peter and Thomas through the streets for stealing a radio, and Peter is arrested. Frau Muller telephones Herr Knopp, who agrees to pardon the boy if he joins the HJ. Accepting his fate, Peter cuts his hair, dons the Nazi Swastika, and attends HJ school. There, he is shocked to discover that Thomas has also enlisted with the intent that they band together as “HJs by day, Swing Kids by night.” Meanwhile, Emil and three other HJs assault Arvid on his way home, breaking two of his fingers and knocking him unconscious. In revenge, Thomas volunteers to fight Emil during a boxing lesson at school, and is badly beaten for taunting Emil about betraying the Swing Kids. Unappreciative of Thomas’s gallantry, Arvid criticizes his and Peter’s allegiance to the HJs, but they insist Arvid is the one who has changed. Upon returning home, Thomas is chastised by his wealthy, liberal parents for his bruises. That night, however, he sneaks out to another club, where Peter dances with Evey until the Nazis raid the venue. Afraid of their duplicity being discovered, Thomas and Peter lead Evey out the back door unnoticed. As they continue with HJ lessons, the two friends are forced to go along with Nazi teachings and spy on their families. Pleased with Peter’s progress, Herr Knopp arranges a holiday for the Muller family and urges the boy to spy on his boss at the bookstore, suspicious that he is using his delivery system for illicit means. Peter returns to the store and uncovers forged birth certificates hidden inside a book, which his boss then asks him to deliver to Frau Linge. She invites him inside for tea, and reveals that her late husband was once an acquaintance of Peter’s father. While performing at a dinner club, Arvid refuses a Nazi’s request to play a German song and storms out, openly declaring his hatred of the Nazi regime. Thomas, now fully seduced by Nazi influence, threatens Arvid over his disability, garnering ridicule from a disbelieving Peter. In his bathtub that night, Arvid commits suicide by slitting his wrists with a broken record. Some time later, Herr Knopp treats the Muller family to a generous dinner, but Peter scrutinizes him for not adhering to strict Nazi policies. Meanwhile, Thomas has his father arrested for speaking against the Nazis, and nearly threatens to report Peter’s growing resistance. One day, Peter is charged with delivering identical packages to three Jewish women, which he eventually realizes contain the ashes of their murdered husbands. Distraught, Peter runs to Frau Linge’s house, where he bursts into tears, imagining the horrifying experiences his father must have undergone while in captivity. She reads him a letter his father wrote to her husband, and Peter is comforted knowing his father loved him and stood bravely against the Nazis. Later, Peter gives the letter to Willi and dresses in his three-piece suit to go dancing alone at the Bismarck, a club he expects will be shut down. Thomas rushes in among the officers and violently beats Peter and pushes him into the street. Moments before strangling Peter to death, he releases his grip and urges his friend to escape while he has the chance. However, Peter allows the other officers to drag him into the back of a truck headed to a labor camp, as Herr Knopp looks on in disapproval. Thomas lifts his arm in the Nazi salute, yelling, “Swing Heil!” Peter echoes the chant to Willi, who tearfully screams the phrase as his brother’s truck disappears down the street. +

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

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