The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle
The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle is a 1980 British mockumentary film directed by Julien Temple and produced by Don Boyd and Jeremy Thomas. It centres on the British punk rock band Sex Pistols and, most prominently, their manager Malcolm McLaren.
|The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Julien Temple|
|Produced by||Don Boyd|
|Written by||Julien Temple|
|Narrated by||Malcolm McLaren|
|Music by||Sex Pistols|
|Distributed by||Virgin Films|
|15 May 1980|
Guitarist Steve Jones plays a shady private detective who - through a series of set piece acts - uncovers the truth about the band. Drummer Paul Cook and bass guitarist Sid Vicious play smaller roles, and the band's manager, Malcolm McLaren, is featured as "The Embezzler", the man who manipulates the Sex Pistols. Fugitive train robber Ronnie Biggs, performer Edward Tudor-Pole, sex film star Mary Millington, and actresses Irene Handl and Liz Fraser also make appearances. Singer and frontman Johnny Rotten refused to have anything to do with the film, stating that it was "a pile of rubbish" and "Malcolm's vision of what he believed - not true in any form".
The movie tells a stylised fictional account of the formation, rise and subsequent break-up of the band, from the point of view of their then-manager McLaren. In the film, McLaren claims to have created the Sex Pistols (in truth, they were already formed, and Jones and Cook asked him to be their manager), and manipulate them to the top of the music business, using them as puppets to both further his own agenda (in his own words: "Cash from chaos"), and to claim the financial rewards from the various record labels the band were signed to during their brief history – EMI, A&M, Virgin, and Warner Bros. Records.
- Malcolm McLaren – The Embezzler
- Steve Jones – The Crook
- Paul Cook – The Tea-Maker
- Sid Vicious – The Gimmick
- Johnny Rotten – The Collaborator (archive footage)
- Ronnie Biggs – The Exile
- Irene Handl – Cinema Usherette
- Mary Millington – Mary
- Liz Fraser – Woman in Cinema
- Jess Conrad – Jess
- Helen of Troy – Helen
- Tenpole Tudor – Tadpole
- James Aubrey – B.J.
- Johnny Shannon – Ed Bird
- Judy Croll – Soo Catwoman (uncredited)
- Peter Dean - Nightclub Bouncer (uncredited)
The footage was filmed in early to mid-1978, between the departure of singer John Lydon from the band and their subsequent split. The movie was finally released nearly two years later. Lydon (who was listed in the credits as "The Collaborator") and original bass guitarist Glen Matlock only appear in archive footage — Lydon refused to have anything to do with the production.
The 2000 documentary The Filth and the Fury, also directed by Julien Temple, re-tells the story of the Sex Pistols from the perspective of the band, thus serving as a response to and rebuttal of McLaren's insistence that he was the driving creative force of the band.
Home video releases
"The Swindle Continues in Your Own Home" was the tagline on the original 18 certificate UK VHS release from Virgin Video in 1982. Warner/Reprise Video released the film on US home video in 1992. In 2005, the film was released on DVD by Shout Factory.
- McLaren, Malcolm (8 September 2005). "The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
- Nice, James (2010). Shadowplayers: The Rise and Fall of Factory Records. London, England: Aurum Press Ltd. p. 121. ISBN 9781845136345.
- "Sex Pistols - The Great Rock 'N' Roll Swindle". Discogs.com. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
- "The Great Rock 'N' Roll Swindle - DVD - Shout! Factory". Shoutfactory.com. Retrieved 11 February 2019.