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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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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 »

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Comedy | Music | Musical

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Release Date:

12 March 1981 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

Who Killed Bambi?  »

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Julien Temple replaced original director Russ Meyer and original writer Roger Ebert as a result of creative differences. 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: Ok, ready to rock!
See more »

Connections

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

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User Reviews

yeah, swindle. for real. rotters
8 June 2004 | by (me home) – See all my reviews

after seeing John Lydon break down over the senseless exploitation of sid vicious when he absolutely hit bottom in Temple's other sex pistols film "The Filth and the Fury," he must have wanted to disown this little piece of trashy lucre. the finale with its spinning headlines and the anka-fueled massacre are just the tips of the iceberg on the meaty, excessive collage film assembled here.

the star on board is mclaren, in full sleazeball form. to the unsuspecting eye, it seems like an act. it is, of course, until you realize that it's the same act he kept up in the public eye for years, while running his little pet project dry. mclaren cut his teeth on theater of the absurd and fancies his managerial life a kind of kaufman-esque performance. the only problem is that mclaren often-times does not have the consent of his lab rats, a bunch of naughty British hooligans that called themselves the sex pistols (no, mclaren did NOT come up with the name).

therefore, it's partially amusing to watch mclaren credit himself with inventing the wheel in punk rock, and partially disgusting when you approach the subject matter knowing he gave nary a shat about the well-being of his bandmates nor the political and social commentary they, especially rotten, were trying to convey. mclaren was more interested in assembling a forefather to reality TV- life as nihilistic, self-imploding art.

the movie itself is not much. there's laughs here and there, but mostly it's a bloated and deadweight companion piece to "The Filth and the Fury," mostly wound into watchability by excellent live performances and some bizarre visual interpretations of songs (some of which seem hardly composed on a punk rock budget). "who killed bambi" (also mclaren's idea with none of the band members really interested in the idea) shows up in several parts and proves to be a quite pointless endeavor.

the majority of punk rock was not known for its rock star exploits off the stage (in fact, that was kinda the point- that these werent rock stars at all). if there had to have been a band to make a boisterous film with sex and drugs and midgets and animation and disco dancing, it's probably best that it was the sex pistols. overall, this film should be mostly reserved for hardcore fans, though others may find value in the sheer novelty of the package. but do yourself a favor and see "filth" first.


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