Adolescent rebellion with a double twist: the kids are Germans in the ‘30s & their vehicle of defiance is American ‘Swing’ music. Watching this fascinating historical oddity crumble into hopeless Hollywood compromise & storytelling ineptitude from the opening shot on is depressing. There’s a strong cast (Christian Bale, Barbara Hershey, Noah Wyle, Frank Whaley, a wisely unbilled Kenneth Branagh & Robert Sean Leonard as Hamburg’s squarest dancing hipster) & a fabulous production design, but neither character development nor narrative design sets a foot right. And the ending, with calls to "Swing Heil! Swing Heil!" must be witnessed to be believed.
WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Wait for THREE COMRADES/'38 to hit DVD.