The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle (1980) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle (1980)

The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Let Malcolm McLaren show you how to achieve fame and fortune by making your pop group the most despised band in the world! This film about the brief but eventful career of The Sex Pistols primarily focuses on McLaren, their manager, as he presents his ten-point program on how to achieve success through chaos, ineptitude, and abusing the music industry. Despite some remarkable footage of The Sex Pistols' infamous Jubilee Day performance and clips from their final concert in San Francisco, there's surprisingly little screen time devoted to the group actually performing. Instead, The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle offers McLaren's agit-prop philosophies on music, culture, politics, and the entertainment industry, as well as an amusing (if often inaccurate) account of the band's rise and fall. Along the way, we're also offered some curious animated sequences, "film noir" episodes starring guitarist Steve Jones, footage of the band recording with exiled British train robber Ronnie Biggs, and Sid Vicious singing "My Way" (he had been dead for over a year by the time the movie was released). The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle began life as "Who Killed Bambi?", a project written by Roger Ebert and directed by Russ Meyer, which closed down after two days of shooting when funding fell through. By the time McLaren and Julien Temple got it off the ground (with a radically different script), Johnny Rotten had left the group, which explains why the band's front man is hardly in the movie. The rest of the group broke up a few months later. ~ Mark Deming, Rovimore
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Documentary, Musical & Performing Arts, Comedy
Directed By:
In Theaters:


Malcolm McLaren
as 'The Embezzler'
as 'The Collaborator'
Sid Vicious
as 'The Gimmick'
Paul Cook
as 'The Tea-Maker'
Mary Millington
as Crook's Partner
Irene Handl
as Usherette
Steve Jones
as 'The Crook'
Peter Dean
as Bouncer (uncredited)
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle

Critic Reviews for The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle

All Critics (9) | Top Critics (1)

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Top Critic

[The Great Rock N Roll Swindle is] a document of a particular time and place, a rarified work of scrap art that creates as many myths as it debunks.

Full Review… | August 15, 2005

a delirious hodge-podge that makes The Filth and the Fury, Temple's later "documentary" about the band, look perfectly staid

Full Review… | May 18, 2005

A document that proves all the cynics right

Full Review… | June 10, 2003

September 13, 2007

November 2, 2005

Audience Reviews for The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle

A very weird movie... it tries to be so punk and so different from other music films that it just alienates its audience and confuses you. There are a few amusing scenes, and it's full of famous punk rockers like Sid Vicious, so if you're really into punk music you may want to check this out. If not, stay away from it. For the most part it's pretty dull, but it's not a complete waste if, like I said, you enjoy punk styles and unconventional movies.

Aj V

Super Reviewer


the midget disturbs me.

Stefanie C

Super Reviewer

i watched this movie everyday from 14 to 20. it was like a bible to me. you can see steve jones, and paul cook's dongers in it.

patrick copeland

The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle Quotes

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