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Sid Vicious - part of God Save The Sex Pistols SID & NANCY - FILM


Tragedy of the punk romantics

(Today newspaper, March 7, 1986)

Even in a profession known for its self-inflicted violence and shortness of life, Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen were unique in the horror and squalor of their lives and deaths.

And when Sid, the Sex Pistols bass player, stabbed Nancy, his American groupie girlfriend, to death in a sleazy New York hotel in October 1978, it inevitably reinforced peoples ideas that punk was decadent and evil.

Four months later, while on bail in America charged with the killing, Sid Vicious died of a heroin overdose.

Nancy was just 20 when she died. Sid was 21. Their 18-month relationship fused into a lethal mixture of violent sex, crazed aggression and pathetically loyal love that took them to the grave and added them to the long list of the pop music industry’s victims which has included Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Keith Moon.

Now the whole saga has been reconstructed for a £3 million film Dead in Love, which will be premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May. Made on location in London, Paris, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, it will be screened in Britain this autumn.

The film will re-focus attention on the punk movement and re-open controversy on the tragedy of two lovers who seemed doomed to die.

Director Alex Cox, a 30-year-old, spikey-haired Liverpudlian, said: “Sid and Nancy were terribly nice people who went insane.

"People who knew them liked them well. They had the images of being monsters, but it’s the really evil people who go round looking normal.”

Cox maintains he has not made a moralistic film. “But I do think that it’s anti-drugs and pro-love. I also think it offers a new perspective on two people whose obsession with image was part of their problem.

“Its a romantic love story. It’s not the Sid Vicious story.

"It’s about Sid and Nancy - from the time they met in London until the time they were dead.

“The film starts off very optimistic and funny, with tons of jokes and all these characters making an exotic world out of a very grimy and mundane one.

“Then as Sid and Nancy become more of a unit and less of a couple of individuals, it gets a bit more intense and by the time they get to the States, it becomes quite weird and very sad.

“I think it romanticises Sid and Nancy. I don’t think it glorifies them. There is nothing really glorious about them. They had big fantasies that they would go out in a blaze of glory together and yet they never did. They both went out ignominiously.

“They were junkies and that was stupid too. The real Sid and Nancy were quite boring at the end when they could hardly speak because they were so damaged and junked out by heroin.”

Cox, who co-wrote the script with American Abbe Wool, made the successful cult film Repo Man.

Already Dead in Love has run into controversy.

Johnny Rotten, who was with Sid Vicious in the Sex Pistols and now uses his real name, John Lydon, is currently enjoying renewed success with his new band Public Image Limited.

And he is threatening to take out an injunction against the makers if he feels he is libelled.

Lydon’s manager, Keith Bourton, said: “He is angry and upset that the film has been made.

“He doesn’t want to speak about it. A cursory approach was made to him by the actor playing his part, Drew Schofield, but he didn’t want to make himself available to be brain-picked. He has seen the script.”

Bourton adds: “People forget that Sid was his friend and he doesn’t want the death rammed down his throat.

“Sid was daft and was pushed around. He was manipulated by the music business. He was such a sad human specimen.

“We will see the film and be looking at the legalities of it and we are going to make a real fuss if there is any inference that John was instrumental or involved in any way in Sid’s death.

“John tried to help Sid.”

The part of Sid Vicious is being taken by Royal Shakespeare Company actor Gary Oldman, 25. To “get in shape” for the role he had to lose 30 pounds in weight in just six weeks.

In his research for the part Gary went to a London drug addiction centre and met Sid’s mother, Mrs Anne Beverley.

“She was the pivot of all my research,” said Gary.

“She was very warm and open and helpful. She talked about Sid as a child, and as a teenager, which helped me to build up the character.

“All the background information helped me to find a way to portray Sid’s vulnerability. She gave me the padlock and chain which Sid used to wear round his neck.

Chloe Webb as Nancy SpungenIt was a very intense role for me."

Chloe Webb, a young New York stage actress, is making her film debut as Nancy.

During filming, the script required her to hit some tourists and push a film producer into a fountain at Trafalgar Square. She also did her own stunts - hanging upside down out of a bed­room window.

Today, seven years after Sid’s death, the punk movement still has its lemming-like followers, replete with swastikas and frightening hairstyles.

For them, the new film may become a homage to the late Sid Vicious. But for many more, it promises to be a vivid lesson in how young lives can be wasted.

(pictured: Chloe Webb as Nancy)

(Sunday Express 1986)

How love led a rock star along the road to hell

SID AND NANCY (Cert 18, 114 minutes) is the unloveliest love story I can recall. And yet it exerts a horrible fascination.

It concerns the relationship between Sid Vicious, bass player of the 1970s British punk group the Sex Pistols, and his soul-mate, Philadelphia-born Nancy Spungen, whom he stabbed to death in New York’s Chelsea Hotel in 1978.

How come their compulsive addiction to each other should have ended thus?

Partly because, according to this new film by Alex Cox, they became trapped in a triangle situation in which the third player was heroin.

If you wish to contemplate a contemporary vision of hell, this film provides it, laced with unsettling humour.

Sid is not yet a junkie when he meets Nancy in London. True, he boasts the anarchism of his fellow punks, ever ready to spray mouthfuls of lager on his adoring fans, smash up a Rolls-Royce or announce his arrival even at a friend’s flat with a cheerful brick through the window.

He is not unlikeable.

There is, you feel, inside 20-year-old Sid’s destructive pose, an inexperienced little mother’s boy longing to be liked.

It is this need which groupie and junkie Nancy gets her hooks into. She has a driving ambition to hitch her star to that of a successful rock musician and she tries to take over Sid, introducing him to sex, and satisfying his curiosity about what heroin does to you by hooking him on that too.

The tragic consequence is that both become hoisted by her petard. Sid becomes so zonked out on the deadly drug that he is rendered incapable of holding an audience, especially on tour in the States.

Her subsequent efforts to get them both off heroin prove futile, even though he truly loves her and tries rehabilitation.

And her realisation of her own inadequacy, and her inability to be strong enough for both of them, finally decides her to engineer death for both of them.

Before this grim decline, director Cox observes the punk scene with a frank and humorous eye.

There is a touching sequence at Sid’s mum’s council flat, with Sid, ashamed of Nancy’s slovenly ways, desperately trying to clean the place up before his mother’s return.

In the lead roles Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb are outstanding, indeed almost too good for comfort. I have seldom felt myself to be less in the presence of actors, more trapped in the hell of the characters they are portraying.

It is not known for sure how Nancy met her death. Alex Cox offers a plausible depiction with Nancy, at the end of her tether, goading a reluctant Sid Into honouring a suicide pact and contriving to get herself stabbed by him.

Quite disgraceful, in my view, is a final shot showing Sid, on bail from a murder charge, driving off with a smiling, beautifully dressed Nancy in a cab; a scene supposedly of fantasy but shot so realistically as to make you think she has survived.

And Sid’s death from a drug overdose while on bail is mentioned almost as an afterthought.

Nevertheless Cox puts across with devastating clarity the utter stupidity of experimenting with heroin.

And though it is never (unfortunately) Romeo and Juliet, Sid and Nancy is a powerful tragedy of doomed love. Cox’s message is that their hearts, too, had their reasons.


Heroin horror ‘must be seen’

(Daily Mail 1986)

THE young actress who plays the murdered girl­friend of Sex Pistol Sid Vicious in a controversial new film last night defended its horrific scenes of heroin addiction.

And she called for the censorship rules to be relaxed to allow young people to see it.

New Yorker Chloe Webb plays drug addict Nancy Spungen in the movie Sid and Nancy.

It contains several har­rowing scenes as Vicious and Spungen are seen growing increasingly addicted to heroin.

Chloe, 22, said: "I just wish that more young people could see this film, If they could see the effects of taking drugs then I’m sure many would not want to get involved.

"It is a dangerous and disgusting business. But because of the laws in this country, the young people that it is aimed at will not be allowed to see It."

Only people aged I8 and over will be able to see the film.

Vicious, died of a drugs overdose in 1979 while he was on bail, on charges of murdering his American girl­friend.

The actress and the punk star’s mother Mrs. Anne Beverley met at the charity premier of the film in the West End on Friday.

Researched and compiled by Phil Singleton.
This feature is copyright to and Phil Singleton and may not be reproduced without written permission.
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All material ©Phil Singleton

God Save The Sex Pistols ©Phil Singleton / 2006
All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced without permission.

God Save the Sex Pistols

God Save The Sex Pistols ©Phil Singleton /