Cheeky and chaotic, the 1980 The Great Rock 'N' Roll Swindle
began life as a Russ Meyer project (co-written by Roger Ebert) called Who Killed Bambi?
. Julien Temple (Earth Girls Are Easy
) took over, working closely with the Pistols' former manager, Malcolm McClaren, and overhauled the script to focus almost exclusively on McClaren's self-serving recollections of turning an unknown band into a success through poor musicianship, crafty bookings, and well-publicized bad manners at pivotal moments. Temple's rococo approach evokes an 18th century riot (in which effigies of the Pistols are burned), noir-like passages featuring guitarist Steve Jones as a thief, and the unholy sight of McClaren taking a bath in palatial surroundings. There's little footage of the Pistols themselves, though what exists is choice: the band's infamous Jubilee Day performance on the Thames, their last gig in San Francisco. Years later, McClaren's contention that he pulled one over on us because the Pistols couldn't play is patently absurd. --Tom Keogh
The Definitive Punk Movie - Finally on DVD!
The Sex Pistols star in director Julien Temples bizarre and hilarious fictional documentary that charts the rise and fall of punks most notorious band through the eyes of its calculating manager, Malcolm McLaren. Mixing animation and midgets with footage of some of The Pistols most electrifying live performances, the 1980 film presents the bands success as an elaborate scam perpetrated by McLaren to make "a million pounds" at the expense of record companies, outraged moralists, the British Royal Familyand even the fans and band members themselves.
The Great Rock Rock n Roll Swindle was called "a parable of our times" by the Guardian (UK), but most music fans simply consider it one of the best rock films ever. More than 25 years after their breakup, The Sex Pistols music continues to influence punk and post-punk bands the world over. The Great Rock n Roll Swindle shows why.
Interview and commentary with director Julien Temple by Chris Salewicz
5.1 Surround Sound