The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle (1980)

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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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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 ...
Mary Millington ...
Mary, The Crook's girlfriend
James Aubrey ...
Johnny Shannon ...
Man in Prison Cage
Helen Wellington-Lloyd ...
Helen (as Helen of Troy)
Tadpole (kiosk attendant) (as Tenpole Tudor)
Faye Hart ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The film that incriminates its audience. See more »


Comedy | Music | Musical


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Release Date:

12 March 1981 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

Who Killed Bambi?  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Johnny Rotten had left the group shortly before filming started on the movie. He had had his fill of the band and Malcolm McLaren, and wanted no part in the film. Therefore, he only appears in archival clips of the Sex Pistols on stage. By the time the film had premiered, Rotten was already touring under his birth name John Lydon with his new band Public Image, Ltd. See more »


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 »


Girl with ants on face: The Sex Pistols - a walking abortion. The Sex Pistols are nothing but a bunch of irresponsible half-dead lumps. But the best are born.
The Crook: I was only in it for the birds after the show.
Girl with ants on face: You, Steve Jones, are nothing but a walking dildo doing a good plumbing job. You'd swim through a river of snot, wade nostril deep through a mile of vomit, as long as you thought there was a sexy cunt at the end of it - and those cunts! Daddy's girl! Daddy's girls are in awe of the Sex Pistols! They really believe ...
See more »


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

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User Reviews

The Inflated God Awful Dwindle
31 August 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

As I've had the sound track for many years, I finally took the opportunity to watch the movie. My initial response was that this movie seemed so sliced and diced, it made the editing of "Manos: The Hands of Fate" look like brain surgery by comparison. My guess is that Malcolm McLaren had multiple cans of Sex Pistols footage lying around, and was having a difficult time trying to make a film out of it. To get his creative juices flowing, he'd cut segments from every reel; roll them up; snort lines of cocaine with them, and finally tell Julian Temple "to fix that bit of film with this bit I just used". Whilst in the process, the coke inflated McLaren's ego, and he came up with the idea to make the incomplete "Who Killed Bambi" into a documentary explaining how he orchestrated everything!

This movie tries so hard to be clever, instead it just seems immature and uninspired. All there is going on, is that we have band members doing dumb things; McLaren claiming credit though without any proof backing up anything he's saying, and some decent footage of Sex Pistols shows.

Some many years later, the film was pretty much confirmed as a lie, in that time McLaren wasn't known to repeat the same method and end up with the same results. These days this film is considered a tongue-in-cheek mockumentary instead of a pile of crap. So, there really was no reason to make this film, other than money.

The only value this film has is that it contains archival footage, other than that it really didn't need to be told in the fictitious tale of McLaren. It would've done better if it was narrated to the audience like it was a scrapbook. But, because it's told in such a fictitious manner the audience is left possibly irritated, or numb.

I'd give it a 8/10 because it contains decent live footage of a band I love. But, I'd give it 3/10 because the movie is a lie; so poorly edited, and presented to the audience that it is supposed to be an actual film. I meet in the middle at 5/10.

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