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Documentary chronicaling the rise and fall of the punk movement with rare interview footage of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen. Also concert and news footage.




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Credited cast:
Stiv Bators ... Himself (as The Dead Boys)
Terry Chimes ... Himself (as The Clash)
The Clash ... Themselves
Paul Cook ... Himself : The Sex Pistols
The Dead Boys ... Themselves
... Themselves
Jonathan Guinness ... Himself
Topper Headon ... Himself (as The Clash)
Tony James ... Himself (as Generation X)
Mick Jones ... Himself (as The Clash)
... Himself : The Sex Pistols
... Himself (as Johnny Rotten)
Glen Matlock ... Himself : The Rich Kids
Gene October ... Himself (as Generation X)
Augustus Pablo ... Himself


Documentary chronicaling the rise and fall of the punk movement with rare interview footage of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen. Also concert and news footage. Written by Emily Moody <ken_emily@zebra.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis





Release Date:

10 April 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

D.O.A.: A Rite of Passage  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Did You Know?


Filmed in 1978. See more »


Featured in Hollywood Rocks the Movies: The 1970s (2002) See more »


Performed by The Sex Pistols
Written by Paul Cook (as Cook), Steve Jones (as Jones), Glen Matlock (as Matlock) & John Lydon (as Rotten)
Recorded live on the Sex Pistols American tour
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User Reviews

Extremely Crude and Incredibly F***off. Just how it should be.
4 January 2018 | by See all my reviews

D.O.A, an shot on-the-run warts and all bands and crowd look at a goid sampling of UK punk (and The Dead Boys for some reason), shows that it's all fun and games and the occasional bottle thrown by a redneck in a Texas town (where the Sex Pistols inexplicably toured in 78) and rock and roll and old stuffy British men criticizing the Pistols (and the other bands the uptight Brit wanker censor couldn't recall)... Until one sees Sid post final SF Winterlabd concert with Nancy totally zonked on heroin (or, sorry, he was just 'tired').

This will obviously be appealing to people who know the bands - or at least have some familiarity with Rotten and the rest (there's even film, which must be the only time it happened, of ex-Pistol Glen Matlock's next band singing 'Pretty Vacant') - but it also has the fascination of opening a buried time capsule. It may also suffer somewhat if one already laps up punk rock docs and movies. I'm one of those who find anything punk related that has just a tinge of quality appealing and will go easy even (ie I know deep down there's not much storywise to Rude Boy, but it's The gddamn Clash playing live for goodness sake), but at the same time I'm coming to this now as opposed to when all the others were readily available as a teen and younger adult. Only now is DOA finally available after years of rights issues, so one comes to it after already lapping up Temple's (really terrific) The Filth and the Fury and Spheeris' Decline movies.

So as I can try to be all objective Mr Critic-Suspender-Pants and say this isn't as cohesive and the main thread of the Pistols on the ill-fated/final tour of the US gets a bit ruptured due to the Vicious/Spungen scenes being cut in well before the end really comes and the context for the band splitting isn't really there (I could be wrong but McClaren isn't mentioned once) ... I can't carp. Every time one sees the Pistols on stage, most especially the wild-eyed quasi-hunchback gonzo Rotten and the almost for today innocent posing by Vicious and the guitarist Steve, it's electric energy and somehow, through the magic if film editing, it even seems as though the American audiences get into the songs live (many being burgeoning punks who have found the real charge from them, yes even in Memphis on Elvis's first birthday post death). Another connection one can make is some of the interviews, done so raggedly and clearly without permission you can see the spit on the lens some if the people hurl, is Heavy Metal Parking Lot, where the interest becomes as much anthropological than anything.

And sure, I don't expect High Times - yes, the effing pot magazine funded this - to be doing Maysles level work. That may be in part why it can't help but compare to that first Decline film, where going from band to band and the Wiseman influence made it a tighter constructed film. But I still give this such a high rating because it is totally compelling and seeing the likes of Sham 69 (perhaps the best punk crowd one gets to see during a live performance, great energy too), Xray Spex (an underrated treasure of 70s female-led punk), Billy Idol(!) in Generation X (doing a song that is better than anything Idol did solo, and I'm not a hater on him), Dead Boys, et al, is often thrilling and sometimes funny - it helps to have some humor when being an aggressive SOB, or trying to - to see what this was all about. The music didn't go away of course, but it didn't stay quite the same as far as the first flood of what it was about.

And, at the end of it all, Spungen and Vicious were dead. One is almost tempted to call exploitation on that part of it (ala one of those Kurt/Courtney docs over the years), but.... High Times? Naahhh.

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