It’s time to head back to the 1940s with this very inspiring film about a big swing band who must overcome the odds to become champions.
It is 1947 in Lynwood, California. The local high school band at Castle High wants to expand into something bigger. They look for inspiration to join from one of their teachers, Mr. Miller. At first, Mr. Miller is a bit reluctant, but ultimately makes his decision to lead the band. With the support of the high school principal “King” Arthur, the band rechristens themselves the Knights of Swing. However, they soon come across the first of many obstacles to succeed.
After an affluent student is rejected to join the band as a singer, her mother attempts to ban the band from using school grounds to practice and attempts to influence the school board, which includes her husband. When that fails, appropriations manager Mr. Tanner attempts to pull out all the stops when the band auditions for the state Battle of the Bands. The support includes Wesley, the older war-stricken brother of the band composer Giffy. Will the Knights of Swing overcome the odds to compete, or will it be too late?
Creator/Executive Producer/Composer Rolland Jacks and Producer/Director/Orchestrator Emilio Palame is a very inspiring tale of overcoming the odds, but in a world that includes racism and the effects of World War II. . Where we see the underdog in sports now and again, music and ragtag groups could bring the likes of Sister Act and the underdog in Whiplash to name a few. Rolland Jacks, who co-wrote the film with Palame and David Gutel based on his real-life experiences, this is a fantastic story brought to life.
Richard Neil drives the film as Mr. Miller, the teacher who leads the way to make the Knights of Swing the band they become along with Palame himself having fun as Principal “King” Arthur. The young cast of actors are amazing in this as they display such natural chemistry. Notably Curran Barker as band composer and lead singer Gifford and Jeremy Lee Staple as Conrad, the only Black member of the band who draws ire from various people, notably Amanda Lamberti’s Mrs. Bartlutski and Randy Irwin’s Mr. Tanner, who attempt to pull all stops to ban the band just because of Conrad’s involvement. There’s also Wesley, played by Trevor Brunsink, who suffers from serious PTSD from his time in World War II.
The music of the film is amazing. Written by Jacks and orchestrated/arranged by Palame, the film is filled with some music that makes use of the cast’s musical abilities and even the singing talents of the 3Bs, played by Emily Goglia, Ivana Cespedes Jordan, and Olivia Dessy. This trio does an amazing job at channeling the Andrew Sisters, one of the most popular female singing trios of the 40s. The Battle of the Bands scene is a delight as well as we experience some great old school music that is bound to bring everyone together.
Knights of Swing is a delightful 2 and a half hour film that will inspiring the family with some great music while facing serious issues at the same time, but in a more subtle way. This film is clearly one of the best films that people should check out.
WFG RATING: A+
A Reel Big Studios production. Directors: Emilio Palame and David M. Gutel. Producers: Rolland Jacks, Donald Nguyen and Emilio Palame. Writers: Rolland Jacks, Emilio Palame, and David M. Gutel. Cinematography: Brian Lang. Editing: Frank Truong
Cast: Richard Neil, Kathy Christopherson, Emilio Palame, Curran Barker, Kyle DeCamp, Jeremy Lee Staple, Christopher Pollack, Brandon Ruiter, Greg Sadler, Emily Goglia, Ivana Cespedes Jordan, Olivia Dessy, Amanda Lamberti, Randy Irwin.