6.5/10
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26 user 43 critic

The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle (1980)

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 »

Director:

Julien Temple

Writer:

Julien Temple
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Malcolm McLaren ... The Embezzler
Steve Jones ... The Crook
Paul Cook Paul Cook ... The Tea-Maker
Sid Vicious ... The Gimmick
John Lydon ... The Collaborator (as Johnny Rotten)
Ronald Biggs Ronald Biggs ... The Exile (as Ronnie Biggs)
Liz Fraser ... Woman in Cinema
Jess Conrad ... Jess
Mary Millington Mary Millington ... Mary, The Crook's girlfriend
James Aubrey ... B.J
Julian Holloway ... Man
Johnny Shannon Johnny Shannon ... Man in Prison Cage
Helen Wellington-Lloyd Helen Wellington-Lloyd ... Helen (as Helen of Troy)
Edward Tudor-Pole ... Tadpole (kiosk attendant) (as Tenpole Tudor)
Faye Hart 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 1

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The film that incriminates its audience. See more »

Genres:

Music

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 March 1981 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Het grote Rock 'n Roll schandaal See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) had left the group shortly before filming started. 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, Lydon was already touring under his real name with his new band, Public Image Ltd. 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 Embezzler: With the line-up complete, we immediately set about to putting our plan into effect: to swindle ours way to the top of the rock and roll industry. It was a plan that within 2 years was bring us close on a million pounds, and a household name as the most notorious, filthy, disgusting, dirtiest rock and roll band in your bloody world.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Sex and Fame: The Mary Millington Story (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A tissue of lies
5 December 2006 | by tonygillanSee all my reviews

To this day, Malcolm McLaren is telling anyone daft enough to believe him that the Sex Pistols were his idea and that the band members were his puppets to be used to make him money. There is a good reason for him doing this, namely that he is a liar.

Here are some real facts.

* McLaren was actually approached by the band to be manager, not the other way round.

* The Pistols were a proper, organic band and not created by McLaren or anyone else. Jones and Cook were childhood friends. Rotten and Vicious went back a long way too. This is something that has led to unfair criticism of the Pistols down the years as they have been likened to manufactured boy bands.

* The band and no one else wrote the songs, recorded them, played live, created the publicity and gave the interviews.

* McLaren did not instigate the Bill Grundy incident. The Pistols only appeared on the programme because Queen had pulled out. According to the band, McLaren was cowering in the back in case arrests were about to be made.

* Johnny Rotten walked out of the band. He was not sacked.

* Far from outwitting the Sex Pistols, John Lydon (Rotten) actually successfully sued him in the 1980s for control and a considerable sum of money. Some of the evidence used by Lydon's lawyers was from McLaren's boasting in 'The Great Rock & Roll Swindle'. This would suggest that McLaren is none too bright despite his affectations.

* The sackings and subsequent pay offs from A & M and EMI were, again, not engineered, it was merely the way things panned out.

* McLaren boasts about the money he made from the band. If he had been competent, he could have made a great deal more. It seems he coudn't even organise gigs properly.

* McLaren's claim at the start of the film that he invented punk rock can be disproved in about ten seconds. The Pistols were not the first punk band, merely the most high profile.

This is a terrible film. The only parts worth watching are the genuine footage of the band, later put to much better use in 'The Filth And The Fury'.


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