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Swing Kids

Swing Kids

4.5 9
Director: Thomas Carter,

Cast: Robert Sean Leonard, Christian Bale, Frank Whaley


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In 1939 Hamburg, Germany, a group of teenagers express their rebellion against Adolph Hitler's Nazi regime through their affection for American swing music, British fashion, and Harlem slang. American and British big-band jazz records are among those banned by the Fuhrer, but the young men secretly get together with their friends to listen and dance to the music. As


In 1939 Hamburg, Germany, a group of teenagers express their rebellion against Adolph Hitler's Nazi regime through their affection for American swing music, British fashion, and Harlem slang. American and British big-band jazz records are among those banned by the Fuhrer, but the young men secretly get together with their friends to listen and dance to the music. As their escapades become increasingly bold, they each get into trouble with the authorities. Robert Sean Leonard stars as Peter, who ends up being forced -- by a prank -- into having to join the Hitler Youth with his friend Thomas (Christian Bale). They are both engineering students at the university, where Thomas' father was taken away for defending his Jewish colleagues. With Arvid (Frank Whaley), they pretend to be Nazi supporters by day while rebelling with the swing music by night. Kenneth Branagh, in an uncredited appearance, is a glib Nazi Gestapo chief who makes matters more difficult. Each of the boys must choose among family, safety, friendship, and freedom as politics impinges on their youthful exuberance, and the Nazis set them against one another. The movie was shot in Prague, directed by Thomas Carter from a script by Jonathan Marc Feldman, and released by Disney. Barbara Hershey appears as Peter's mother. ~ Michael Betzold

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Donald Liebenson
In 1939 Berlin, a close-knit group of teenagers rebel against rising fascist oppression by wearing their hair long and dancing to swing music. (They greet each other with the ominous, "Swing heil.") Robert Sean Leonard stars as the defiant Peter, with Christian Bale as the weaker-willed Thomas, who is soon dancing to a different tune as a member of Hitler's youth brigade. A Nazi-era Footloose, this 1993 drama has garnered something of a cult following for its hot young cast, offbeat subject matter, and, of course, its vintage big-band soundtrack and exhilarating dance sequences.
All Movie Guide - Andrea LeVasseur
After starring in the critically dismissed musical Newsies in 1992, Christian Bale tried the genre again the next year with similar results in Swing Kids. Produced by Disney, this production presents a glossy version of Nazi Germany and positions the defiant teenagers rebelling against Hitler Youth as a bunch of good-looking hipster kids. That said, the production design is stunning and the swing-era dance numbers are well-choreographed and entertaining. The rousing dance sequences are helped by the attractive leads, especially sensitive-boy prototype Robert Sean Leonard, fresh from his Hollywood breakthrough in the audience favorite Dead Poets Society. With its emphasis on musical numbers over politics, this movie is best appreciated by teen audiences who won't be distracted by the historical inaccuracies or the smoothing over of political realities. The vague message here is that music can change the world, as demonstrated by a cultural revolution that sprang up from the sounds of American jazz music in the late '30s. Director Thomas Carter did well to avoid settings like Nazi Germany and to focus more on the dancing for his later efforts like Save the Last Dance.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Walt Disney Video

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Robert Sean Leonard Peter
Christian Bale Thomas
Frank Whaley Arvid
Barbara Hershey Frau Muller
Kenneth Branagh SS Official
Tushka Bergen Evey
David Tom Willi
Julia Stemberger Frau Linge
Jayce Bartok Otto
Noah Wyle Emil
Deborah Aquila Actor
Kate Buffery Woman With Ashes
Mary Fogarty Mama Klara
Douglas Roberts Hinz
Martin Clunes Bannfuhrer
Karel Belohradsky Bismarck Owner
Jiri Malek Jewish Boy
Arthur White Alberti
Nada Konvalinkova Pastry Shop Woman
Petr Jákl Policeman in Marketplace
David Robb Dr. Berger
Ciaran Madden Frau Berger
Petr Lepsa Cafe Trichter Owner
Jeremy Bulloch Small Club Owner
Joseph Bennett Luftwaffe Pilot
Richard Hanson HJ Fink
Sean Pertwee Gestapo Arresting Berger
Jochen Horst Speaker at HJ Rally
Eliza Clark Girl with Ashes
Johan Leysen Herr Schumler

Technical Credits
Thomas Carter Director
Jenny Beavan Costumes/Costume Designer
Harry Benn Co-producer
Marc Boyle Stunts
Allan Cameron Production Designer
Paul Engelen Makeup
Mark Gordon Producer
James Horner Score Composer
David B. Householter Asst. Director
Garth Inns Special Effects
Michal Krska Art Director
John Bard Manulis Producer
Frank Marshall Executive Producer
Christopher Meledandri Executive Producer
Michael R. Miller Editor
Tony Reading Art Director
Tom Sachs Production Designer
Otis Sallid Choreography
Rosalind Shingleton Set Decoration/Design
Steve Spence Art Director
Karen I. Stern Editor
Jerzy Zielinski Cinematographer

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Swing Kids 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie is about 3 people: Peter, a confused kid who does not know where to stand, thomas, a cocky richboy who believes loyalty to a bad cause(in this case hitler) is not a bad thing, and then arvil, a grizzled violin player. all charachters were wooden and unsympathetic to such an extreme I hated it. god i hate this movie.
FollowGreeks1 More than 1 year ago
This movie is an amazing representation of Nazi Germany when American Swing music was popular in America, but banned elsewhere. It is a sad, yet beautiful movie how 3 young boys go from swing dancing, to Hitler Youth (HJ) , to in the end realizing in their hearts what they knew all along was right. It is a beautiful movie and a great family movie! 2 thumbs up!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
amazing movie watched it in my history class very good to learn imformation on how the nazis tried to take everything over
Hannah_Abbott More than 1 year ago
I love this movie! I watched it in my history class last year and fell in love with it. :D
It has very good plot, themes, and a storyline. The movie has romance, dance, suspense, depressing moments, and thrilling. I recommend this movie!!
CanesUMfan More than 1 year ago
Don't be fooled by the title. This movie is about much more than kids who enjoy swing dancing at clubs in the 1940s. This movie has depth. Easily one of my favorite movies of all time, Swing Kids will take you on an emotional roller coaster through Hitler's Germany in a way in which most people have not viewed it before- from the teenagers rebelling against the regime. This movie is full of robust music and exciting dance scenes, but also tackles some hard questions- about discrimination and when, if ever, it might be appropriate to surrender your ideals. Full of romance, humor, and drama, this movie has a little bit for everyone who is willing to deal with the very serious issues it presents.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie took place at a time when Hitler almost convinced the youths turning in your parents was the noble thing to do,and also during the turmoil Robert Sean Leonard finds out many of the things he enjoys now are slowly, methodically being prohibited,& destroyed one by one,till the family has nothing, is nothing, feels nothing! This tugs at ones emotions to say "Hey! This isn't right!
Guest More than 1 year ago
i first saw this when i was about 15. this movie is great it takes you through a whirlwind of emotions. a great story and plot that goes along with actual events in our history.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm watching it in my History class right now and it is a great movie. It really teaches you a lot about Germany back in the late 1930's. This is a must see for everyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an amazing movie. I watched it in my German class and I really learned a lot. I have watched other movies about the Nazi struggle and most of them focus only on the blood and brutality. This movie also focused on the personal struggles between right and wrong and what you want to believe.