Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle [1980]

Genre: Comedy, Music, Musical
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

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