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The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle (1980)

6.6
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 1,333 users  
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A rather incoherent post-breakup Sex Pistols "documentary", told from the point of view of Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, whose (arguable) position is that the Sex Pistols in particular ... See full summary »

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Title: The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle (1980)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Steve Jones ...
The Crook
Paul Cook ...
The Tea-Maker
...
...
The Collaborator (as Johnny Rotten)
Ronald Biggs ...
The Exile (as Ronnie Biggs)
Liz Fraser ...
Woman in Cinema
Jess Conrad ...
Jess
Mary Millington ...
Mary, The Crook's girlfriend
James Aubrey ...
B.J
...
Man
Johnny Shannon ...
Man in Prison Cage
Helen Wellington-Lloyd ...
Helen (as Helen of Troy)
...
Tadpole (kiosk attendant) (as Tenpole Tudor)
Faye Hart ...
Secretary
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Storyline

A rather incoherent post-breakup Sex Pistols "documentary", told from the point of view of Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, whose (arguable) position is that the Sex Pistols in particular and punk rock in general were an elaborate scam perpetrated by him in order to make "a million pounds." Silly and hard to follow at times, but worth seeing for some excellent Pistols concert footage, some wickedly amusing animated sequences, and Sid Vicious' eerily prophetic performance of "My Way." Written by Marty Cassady <martyc@vt.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The staggering story of the group who wrung the neck of rock 'n' roll See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Music | Musical

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

12 March 1981 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

Who Killed Bambi?  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

To receive an 'X' certificate the BBFC required cuts to the final print. Full-frontal shots of 'Sue Catwoman' in Malcolm McLaren's bathroom were optically enhanced to remove images of her lower regions (banned under the Protection of Children Act) and a long shot of her was cut by adding black panties to cover up the offending area. The cinema scene was also cut by removing shots of Steve Jones's genitals during the sex scene with the Brazilian girl and Mary Millington's visible pubic area in her sex scene with Jones. A shot of Sid Vicious waving a flick-knife was moved back into the sequence to avoid equating sex with violence. The BBFC also demanded the inclusion of newspaper headline footage referring to the deaths of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen. All later releases feature this same print. See more »

Goofs

Towards the end of Sid Vicious' Punk rendition of Paul Anka/Frank Sinatra's "My Way", he pulls a revolver out of his pocket and starts shooting at the audience. He fires eight shots, which is more bullets than a revolver can hold. See more »

Quotes

The Gimmick: And now, the end is near, and so I face- the final curtain. Ha ha ha!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in St Trinian's 2: The Legend of Fritton's Gold (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Useless, self-indulgent
24 February 2002 | by (Chicago, IL) – See all my reviews

Not only is The Great Rock N Roll Swindle thoroughly inaccurate, but when it comes down to it, not much about it is interesting or even entertaining. Malcolm McLaren apparently squandered the majority of the Sex Pistols earnings on this waste of film, which makes it that much more obnoxious. The intention, from the beginning, was to create a monument to the "genius" of McLaren, who to this day takes full credit for creating punk music, creating the Sex Pistols, and at times even writing all the songs. Viewers follow McLaren to various settings, where he tells his story to his sidekick, a female dwarf, and simply takes credit for one thing after another. One particularly irritating scene has McLaren in an abandoned airplane hangar, waiting for a plane, being hounded by reporters and giving them their "big story". The most entertaining elements of the film are the animated short pieces, however, even these reek of McLaren's overbearing self-importance.

Even as a farce, this film doesn't work. Little about it is entertaining, except for Steve Jones, who is surprisingly decent as a pseudo-detective type person. 20 years later, Julien Temple, who wrote and directed this film, also directed the Sex Pistols documentary "The Filth and the Fury". While that movie is much better and more interesting than "Swindle", it still is full of Temple's "artistic flourishes" that just don't work, like interviewing band members in shadow, as if they are some kind of crime witness trying to hide their identity. An interesting bit of trivia: Film critic Roger Ebert was one of the original scriptwriters for the movie "Who Killed Bambi?", which eventually became "Swindle".


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