American Swing
American Swing (2009)

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… More

Rated: Unrated
Running Time:
Genre: Documentary
Release Date: March 27, 2009
DVD Release Date: April 14, 2009
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Critic Score: 52% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews

Consensus: While American Swing covers a fascinating subject, its amateur documentary treatment does it no favors.

Robert Abele
Los Angeles Times

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.

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Stephen Holden
New York 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.

Cynthia Fuchs

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.

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Lou Lumenick
New York Post

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.

Elizabeth Weitzman
New York Daily News

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.

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Kam Williams

A scary reminder of the potentially-disastrous physical and emotional consequences of indiscriminate mating.

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Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger

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.

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Scott Tobias
AV Club

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.

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Brian Orndorf

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.

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More reviews for American Swing

Flixster Audience Score: 49% Flixster User Reviews
Dean McKenna
This eye-opening documentary captures the mood of America when the sexual revolution pendulum has swung a little too far and slezy rot had started to set in. It… More
Sarah Prisbylla
Nothing groundbreaking, but it was entertaining. Might've been better if it was focused on "swinging" in general rather than on one man.
Walter M.
One of the complaints over the years about documentaries is how very unsexy they usually are. To contradict that complaint, along comes "American… More
Sunil Jawahir
I'm not a prude in the slightest but wow. As interesting as a visit to Plato's retreat would have been, I would definitely not have been able to swim… More
Glenn Gaylord
Highly entertaining yet quite sad expose of the infamous hetero sex club in 70s/80s NYC. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of lush score against pornographic images,… More