Andrew Anderson has been sitting through the movies make by band so you don't have to. Here's The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle.
In 1977, The Sex Pistols were at the height of their notoriety. They’d written and recorded some riotous tunes, been signed to and shoved off two different record labels, and even called Bill Grundy a “fucking rotter” on TV. What better time, then, than to make a film about the band, capturing the charismatic craziness of Lydon, Jones, Malock, Cook and their orchestrated world? Malcolm McLaren, not a man adverse to honking his band’s own horn, took the idea to 20th Century Fox, and Who Killed Bambi? was born. Except it wasn’t, and this article is not about that film.
It should come as no surprise that 20th Century Fox pulled the project before it even got into proper production. Two days of filming took place – with softcore impresario Russ Meyer directing – before it all went, appropriately enough, tits up. Fun fact: the script was written by future film critic and Pulitzer Prize winner Roger Ebert, who published it online some years later (it’s probably still out there somewhere).
You see, the negative publicity, which McLaren had so cleverly (in his mind, at any rate) created, meant the Sex Pistols were an untenable proposition. Newspapers hated on them, promoters cancelled their gigs and patriotic piss heads beat them up in back alleys. A band that started out being fun suddenly turned serious – and that’s no fun at all.
It all came to an end in San Francisco, with Rotten’s final line “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” a fitting epitaph.
Well, it would have been, if McLaren had let the band split up rather than attempting to keep them going without Lydon. The result was a lot of posing, pretending and pissing money away. So with that thought in mind, ladies and germs, I give you the Sex Pistols film: The Great Rock and Roll Swindle.