The Sex Pistols in ANARCHY IN THE U.K.
Produced by MALCOLM McLAREN
Directed by RUSS MEYER
Screenplay by ROGER EBERT
Original story by MALCOLM McLAREN, ROGER EBERT, RUSS MEYER, RENE DAALDER and RORY JOHNSTON
SECOND DRAFT: JULY 1977
Registered with the WRITER'S GUILD OF AMERICA, WEST, INC.
A MATRIXBEST Production
The Sex Pistols
ANARCHY IN THE U.K.
EXT. THE STREETS OF SOHO - NIGHT
One by one, each alone, we see the FOUR SEX PISTOLS walking along these mean London streets. In CLOSEUPS, each one turns while still walking and addresses THE CAMERA.
We don't make music - we make noise.
We're so pretty vacant and we don't care.
We like noise - it's our choice.
We want to destroy the passer-by.
Passion ends in fashion.
We're the blank generation.
We don't make rock and roll - we make chaos.
Got a problem, and the problem is you. What you gonna do?
During these closeups, the beat of the TITLE SONG has been insistently ESTABLISHING itself beneath the dialogue. Now the VOCAL begins as we:
The SEX PISTOLS singing "ANARCHY IN THE U.K."
A MASKED HORSEMAN rides through the streets of contemporary London, past landmarks of the past and present. He is dressed entirely in red, rides a black horse, and carries a black flag: Red and black are the international colors of anarchy. He rides past such familiar places as the Tower, Harrods', Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, the Victoria Embankment, the Prince Albert Memorial, and what is left of Covent Garden.
The TITLES roll up OVER his ride. They are apparently made up of letters cut from newspapers and magazines, and assembled to give the appearance of kidnap ransom note.
As the final TITLE appears, we:
EXT. UNEMPLOYMENT QUEUE - LONDON
The queue winds down a Dickensian back street under grey Skies, and is made up mostly of bitter, morose out-of-work British workingmen.
But mixed in with them is an assortment of out-of-work British eccentrics, who give the queue the potential for becoming a spontaneous side-show. Almost anyone could be waiting along that drab London street; perhaps we see -
A blind beggar with a cup, playing a concertina; two Cockneys running a shell game; a man on a unicycle; people plying such out-dated implements as hula-hoops, paddle-balls and yo-yo's; an artist who must continually move his easel as the line inches forward; dogs chasing cats; old ladies - one with a parrot; an assortment of hookers; a Pakistani family; a chestnut vendor; an exhibitionist, who flashes for the benefit of a phalanx of Japanese tourists; a weight-lifter; kids on roller skates, and others on skate-boards; a motorcycle gang; Teddy boys; men in bowler hats; Butch lesbians; an old judge in a powdered wig - and even a sandwich man, whose sign reads: "Repent for the end is at hand."
A large sign makes the location clear:
Despite the chaotic background activity which the above suggests, a good many of the people waiting in the line are watching the BIRD MAN, a man who has trained birds to do tricks on the back of his dog.
Not half bad that, is it?
It's done better with two dogs and no birds.
The Bird Man borrows the HULA HOOPIST'S hoop, and holds it out for his dog to jump through. There is a scattering of unenthusiastic applause, followed by a collection that nets him only a few pennies.
The two Cockney's go into action with their con-game. After conferring clandestinely (so we establish them together), they separate: COCKNEY ONE to mix with the crowd, COCKNEY TWO to walk over to a pile of discarded scrap and pick up two wooden crates.
He stacks one on its end and balances the other over it, forming a makeshift table. Brings out a pack of cards and begins to shuffle them in the air.
All right, then - where's the Joker? Who knows where the knave is?
Puts the Joker face up on the table. Deals cards on either side of it: A King and a Queen.
COCKNEY TWO (continuing)
There's the little bugger - right in bed between his majesty and the queen! That's right! There he is... and here he goes!
Sweeps up all three cards and deals them out again. Joker, King, Queen. A few of the UNEMPLOYED edge closer. Cockney One remains very much in the b.g., as if unaware of what's going on.
The line inches forward a little. The ARTIST moves his easel. The MOTORCYCLE GANG, straddling their machines, push against the sidewalk with their boots to move their cycles forward.
HOOKER (to Lady with parrot)
Out of work long, then, dearie?
LADY WITH PARROT
Long enough. The last actual employment I had was in your line.
LADY (to parrot)
Ain't that the truth, Polly?
The line shuffles ahead slowly, the unemployed in many cases lacking the energy to even look up at the riot of roller-skaters and sidewalk entertainers.
Meanwhile, back at the Cockney's con-game...
Cockney Two now turns all three cards over - establishing the Joker on the left end. Rotates the cards - King to left, Joker to right, Queen out of the middle, King back in the middle, Joker to left, whatever.
And now who'll tell me where he is? That's it! Where's the Joker? Where is the little fucker?
A COAL MINER is sure he knows.
On the left.
Cockney Two turns over the card on the left - and it is the Joker. He repeats the process a few times, each time allowing the person guessing to get it right. Now Cockney One edges forward out of the background.
I'll try it, mate.
Right you are!
Manipulates the cards again - and Cockney One gets the wrong card! A second time - wrong again. Cockney One seems to be getting mad.
Emboldened, the Coal Miner steps to the front again. Cockney Two again switches the cards around - and again lets the Coal Miner guess correctly! The Miner swells. Cockney One feigns anger.
I'll lay you five quid I get it right!
Right, then - right you are! Five quid. Would you hold the money, sir?
The Coal Miner holds both fivers. And again Cockney One guesses wrong - even though the Coal Miner is certain where the Joker is.
The wait grows long and tiresome for the people in line. One man, drunk or very hung over, has passed out leaning against a building, only his forehead making contact with the wall. Others take a dart board with a long cord on it, hang it down his back with the cord suspending it from the top of his head, and, in b.g., as other action continues, throw darts at it.
The BLIND MAN with the concertina plays "Lily Marlene." Two of the MEN IN BOWLER HATS harmonize sadly:
MEN IN BOWLERS
Underneath the lamp-light...
The MAN ON UNICYCLE peddles around behind the ARTIST WITH EASEL and teeters in place, looking over his shoulder at the painting taking place; the ARTIST is drawing a sad-faced clown looking at a tattered Union Jack in his hands.
Back at the Cockney con-game, the two Cockneys have now all but got the Coal Miner set up for the kill. Cockney One tries again to guess where the Joker is...
Here's another fiver! I'll get the bloody thing this time...
And fails again. So Cockney Two now holds ten quid from Cockney One, and his own five quid. He throws all three bills down on the table.
All right, then, fifteen quid! Who knows where the joker is? Where's your money, gents? Who can spot the Joker?
The Coal Miner steps forward and throws down five quid.
I'll bet five.
Right, then - five quid. Any other takers?
A crowd has gathered. Cockney Two manipulates the cards again - and this time, amazingly, the Coal Miner is wrong! Loses his five quid, which Cockney Two scoops up. The Coal Miner, balanced between anger and confusion, stares at the cards as we:
INT. LONG BLACK LIMOUSINE
An Austin Princess, approaching the queue, exuding power and mystery. The car is inhabited by PROBY, a man in his mid-30's, who fancies himself the nation's leading and most uncanny Trend Spotter. His motto: Now is Then. He's well-preserved and youthful-looking, and filled with limitless if often inane enthusiasm. He comes on to people as if he'd made a careful study of the Zero Mostel character in "The Producers."
He leans forward and taps on the connecting glass window, addressing his chauffeur.
Stop here, please.
The limousine glides to a smooth halt.
For a moment, Proby does nothing more than quietly regard the unemployment queue. Then he reaches down and picks up the ornate speaking-horn of his expensive dictaphone. He turns on the recording machine and clears his throat.
August ninth. The morning papers report that unemployment in the United Kingdom reached its highest point today since the Great Depression. Thousands of people stood in unemployment queues for the first times in their lives.
He switches off the machine, regards the queue for another moment, and then switches the dictaphone on again.
Note well: On this same date, whether realized or not, the era of the rock millionaire came to an end. The music of the future, to be engineered by myself: Rock for the downtrodden masses.
He taps the glass again and nods. The Chauffeur leaps out to open the door for Proby, and we see that even Chauffeur's costumes have undergone budget-cuts in a time of national belt-tightening: The driver wears black pants and shoes, a striped yellow-and-black butler's vest, a too-small leather cap, and nothing else.