American Swing
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Filmmakers Mathew Kaufman and Jon Hart explore the last gasp of the sexual revolution with this profile of Plato's Retreat -- New York City's most notorious, 1970s-era sex club. The year was 1977: the city was in the suffocating grip of a heat wave, nerves were rattled due to the energy crisis, and the social unrest was growing. But when the sun went down over the city, the nightlife flourished. The discos were packed, cocaine was all the rage at Studio 54, and over at CBGB the punks were smashing it up. Inspired by the open sexuality in gay clubs all across town, Larry Levenson… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 50%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"The film treats Levenson's rapid descent as if someone had turned on the lights at a sex party: scurrying away with pity and irritation that the good times had to end."
‑ Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times
"Although American Swing pointedly goes out of its way to include positive testimonials from several women who patronized the club, it leaves you feeling queasy."
‑ Stephen Holden, New York Times
"Certainly, the sex was exciting, as well as controversial. But Plato's Retreat also represented an effort to think through the mores behind monogamy, to challenge assumptions and imagine an alternative."
‑ Cynthia Fuchs, PopMatters
"Can't get it up."
‑ Staci Layne Wilson, Buzzine Magazine
"An essential document to the rich history of New York, "American Swing" is too short sighted for the vision of its controversial subject."
‑ Cole Smithey,
"American Swing 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."
‑ Lou Lumenick, New York Post
"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."
‑ Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News
"A scary reminder of the potentially-disastrous physical and emotional consequences of indiscriminate mating."
‑ Kam Williams, NewsBlaze
"There's glossy surface engagement as an artifact snapshot of the sexual revolution, but everything about American Swing is only thumbnail-deep; it doesn't have, ahem, the rigorous thrust necessary to leave a lasting impression."
‑ Brent Simon, Shared Darkness
"A lively and moderately engaging documentary, but its lack of thorough explorations leave you feeling slightly empty, underwhelmed and yearning for more insights."
‑ Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guru
"In the end, the impression isn't that much different from one given by the club's own hairy habitues -- lots of sleazy charm, pounds of gold chains and a smarmy shallowness that goes very, very deep."
‑ Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger
"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."
‑ Scott Tobias, AV Club
"The pearls of wisdom are best extracted from the minds of those who stood on the front line, people who walked into the seminal fluid line of fire and lived to tell the tale."
‑ Brian Orndorf,
"A poorly-done documentary that manages to make the phenomenon of swinging boring."
‑ Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice
"American Swing is an entertaining, oddly affectionate portrait of Plato's Retreat's Larry Levenson, and a brash, grainy, warts%u2013and-all Polaroid of an era of sexual history."
‑ Diva Velez,
More reviews for American Swing on Rotten Tomatoes