It is one of those too weird to not be true stories.
In 1977, at the height of The Sex Pistols fame, Roger Ebert and Russ Meyers (who had previously collaborated on the unfairly maligned Beyond the Valley of the Dolls) were hired to make a feature about the band. The film was to be called, Who Killed Bambi? and was to play like a punk rock version of Help! filming lasted two days before production was shut down because of funding issues. Very shortly thereafter the band broke up and Sid Vicious (as well as Nancy Spungen) were dead.
Short snippets of footage appeared in Julien Temple’s 1980 film The Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle, but it appeared as though all other evidence of this piece of punxploitation — which included scenes of Sid Vicious and his mother casually shooting heroin and Sting playing a police Bobby who beats up Johnny Rotten — was lost.
Not any longer. Earlier today, Roger Ebert finally posted a full transcript of the screenplay on his superb blog. Read on for the rest.
In response to Sex Pistols (And Adam and the Ants and Bow Wow Wow) producer Malcolm McLaren’s recent passing Ebert put up a short obit. The obituary dealt mostly with his brief interactions with Meyers and McLaren during the film’s preproduction. It featured excerpts for he screenplay and detailed insight into Ebert’s impressions of the young punkers in the band.
As one of those kids who shoved safety pins through his face in high school, this was big news for me. I’ve been looking for info on this screenplay for most of the last decade and just seeing a few short pages was like finding the (un)holy grail.
This morning, in response to requests on the comment section Ebert posted a full transcript of his draft for the film. It’s not a PDF and it’s not in proper screenplay format, but this is a real piece of both rock and roll history and cinematic history that can grant us perspective on both one of the most important film writers of the modern era, and one of the most significant musical movements of the last half century. In short, read the damn thing, it’s good for you, and you’ll probably get a big kick out of it.
In a short intro Ebert explained himself,
“This, for the benefit of future rock historians, is the transscript [SIC] of a screenplay I wrote in the summer of 1977. It was tailored for the historic punk rock band the Sex Pistols, and was to be directed by Russ Meyer and produced by the impresario Malcolm McLaren. It still carried its original title, “Anarchy in the U.K.,” although shortly after I phoned up with a suggested title change, which was accepted: “Who Killed Bambi?” […] All I intend to do here is reprint it. Comments are open, but I can’t discuss what I wrote, why I wrote it, or what I should or shouldn’t have written. Frankly, I have no idea.”
Look for further analysis in the next few days.