BU Film School

Monday, September 12, 2005

FT 540 Reading: Sid and Nancy

Screenplay info
Written by: Alex Cox and Abbe Wool
Film info: http://us.imdb.com/Title?0091954

Synopsis
As Nancy's body is carried out of a hotel room, a detective questions the unresponsive Sid, who's covered with blood. Shots of different people (manager - Nancy a camp follower, punkette, punker) to get different reactions. Reporters try to question Sid, who threatens to smash their cameras.

Three cops try to bully Sid into talking. When one says, "Who was this chick, your groupie?", Sid blows up. The chief comes and kicks them out, then tells Sid they just want to know who she was. The question of where they met begins the whole flashback.

Nancy Spurgen, in NYC, is going to her job as an exotic dancer. Crying, she tells her friends that her boyfriend of a week, Duke Bowman, has up and left for England. One friend tells her to rescue Duke's guitar from the pawnshop and take it to him.

Nancy at Linda's, in England. She says that Duke took the guitar, but slammed the door in her face. They do drugs. John and Sid yell for Linda, and Sid tosses a bit of paving stone through a window. They come up. Sid announces he's the new bass player for the Sex Pistols. John: Sidney never washes his feet. Sid spray-paints the walls with graffiti. Nancy says she loves the Sex Pistols and wants to go to a gig.

John and Sid leave Linda's. They see a Rolls-Royce. As John eggs him on, Sid makes faces at the dog, spray-paints the window, kicks the windscreen, but doesn't paint the dog.

Sex Pistols gig. Malcolm pretends the bar is still a striptease joint: "Here's the doorway to the seamy underbelly of London." Sid is talking to people. Phoebe, Malcolm's secretary, thrusts a bass guitar into his hands and tells him to earn his keep. A reporter who has given the Sex Pistols poor reviews comes in. Sid hits the reporter with his guitar.

People at Linda's pad. Nancy climbs in next to John, who says that the British don't believe in sex. She turns and explores Sid's bare back. He's awake and terrified.

The Sex Pistols play darts. They toss darts at the drummer when he goes to retrieve some. Nancy asks Duke for 50 pounds, but he throws beer in her face. She runs out, and Sid goes after her. Nancy complains about Duke, and scrapes her hands on the brick wall. Sid nuts the wall, which impresses her. Sid gives her money. Nancy will meet him back there in an hour with drugs.

Nancy is trying to buy drugs from Rock Head. At first he resists, then says he will send two dimes for the price of one if she'll fuck him and split one right now. Rock: "Whether it's sex or dope or stamp collecting, you got to have that sideways pressure valve."

Wally runs into Sid, who's still waiting for Nancy several hours later. He pulls Sid into the bar. Another day, they reel out of another boozer. Wally talks about opening his own club. They see a Cadillac, and aim imaginary machine guns at it.

Rock Head, his girlfriend Hermione, and Nancy are in the Cadillac. He sends Nancy into the building for a drug pickup. Cops appear and are blocked by the Cadillac. Panicking, Rock Head orders them to drive off. Nancy's stuff gets thrown out of the car. Sid and Wally rummage through the stuff, Sid putting a pair of Nancy's underwear on his head. Nancy runs out and stops them. Sid confronts her about his money. Nancy gives him a package.

Wally's pad. They shoot up. Sid and Nancy make love.

Recording studio. Steve tries to teach Sid a bass line, but he keeps screwing it up (and the lyrics too). Nancy arrives with parcels and take-out food. She tells Sid no pizza until they've finished at least one song. Band members snipe at each other, and disperse, leaving Sid and Nancy there. Nancy says for him to kiss her toes, and he does.

The band, the reporters, and punks are on the Queen Elizabeth in the Thames. John is seasick. Sid's mom talks to reporters, telling him what a nice boy he is. Sid playfully pretends to strangle Nancy. Nancy: "He's not a nice boy. He's the meanest bastard that ever walked the fucking earth." Phoebe tells them that Malcolm wants Sid upstairs. Nancy asks her what's the point. Phoebe: "Who the FUCK are you, anyway?" Nancy messes up Sid's hair, then tries to help him fix it in the gents' lavatory. They make out. Cops come. In the chaos, Sid and Nancy slip off the boat.

Linda's pad. Nancy is in withdrawal. Linda tells Sid he needs to get hold of some smack. Nancy calls her mom -- Sid and I are married, please wire us money right now. She gets mad when her mom refuses, and breaks windows. Sid tries to restrain her.

Sid and Nancy are being interviewed, Nancy doing all the talking. She says that Sid didn't know anything about sex before meeting her. When the reporter asks if she's a groupie, Sid answers with an emphatic no.

Sid's mom's house. Nancy: "I'll never look like Barbie -- Barbie doesn't have bruises." The house is a mess, and Sid yells at her to stop mucking about. They fight. She puts on a hippie outfit of his mom's and jumps up and down on her bed. When Sid yells at her, she runs out with her shopping bags, Sid in pursuit. She catches her reflection in a shop window. Horrified, she starts tearing the clothes off and grabbing new ones out of her bags. He cracks up and starts picking up his mom's clothes. She laughs too.

Linda's pad. John comes to see Sid. Linda, a dominatrix, tends to a middle-aged man hanging from manacles. John kicks Sid awake. He has two tickets to see Rock Head at the Rainbow. When Nancy mentions Rock Head has the best drugs, Sid says, "Let's go!"

Hotel. Sid and Nancy march in. He's in a cowboy suit, both have cap pistols. John trails behind, muttering that he can't stand this groupie shit. They find a new, improved Rock -- no more drugs, drinking, smoking, etc. Sid tries to bum five pounds off people. John confronts Rock -- no self-respecting punk would be found in a fancy hotel like this. Rock on Sid: "There's money to be made from acting like a bozo. I've been there." He tells John to distance himself from Sid.

Conference in Malcolm's office with Malcolm, Phoebe, band members without Sid. They argue about Sid's worth to the band -- he's a terrible bass player. Malcolm: "He's a fuckin' star." John: He's a fuckin' headcase." They agree that he's not the problem -- Nancy is. Nancy calls. She and Sid want a suite at Rock Head's hotel.

Sid and Nancy have been making trouble at the hotel (arrests, damage, etc.) Phoebe and Clive go -- Sid is taken to the dentist, Nancy is taken shopping. Phoebe quietly tells her cab to go to Heathrow airport. Sid is put under at the dentist. Nancy realizes what's going on, and throws herself out of the cab. Sid wakes up. Phoebe calls Malcolm.

Sid goes to Malcolm's shop and trashes shelves. Malcolm is hiding under the counter. Sid: "She's all I got -- I'm in love with her. WE'RE ONE."

Cafe. The band talks. Malcolm decrees that there will be no women on the U.S. tour, ostensibly to keep expenses down. He gives Sid an ultimatum: leave Nancy behind, or leave the band. He adds that after the tour, a record company will buy them a little house. Nancy gets mad about the bribe.

Nancy and Sid have sex. Even though Sid has to be up in two hours, she says he has to stay awake. This time, her "Kiss my toes" is a demand, not a request. Sid gets mad, yells at her, and slams out.

Tour bus in America. John and Sid snipe at each other. Concerts, passing through empty landscapes. Sid pours vodka into his mouth. His minder takes the vodka away. Sid fights with security after one concert. More sniping. Nancy talks to Sid -- he misses sex. She has to cut the call short because she's helping Linda with a client. Linda tells her not to apply the whip so hard. Sid to crowd: who's gonna fuck me then? Sid on shock machine at bar.

Sid calls Nancy -- he's fucking a transvestite.

Sex Pistols' last gig. They all hate each other. Lots of sniping. Party -- John doesn't go. He spits blood into his hand. Sid walks into a plate glass door. The band plits up. Phoebe to Sid: get off the drugs, can help Nancy if both go straight. On plane, Sid washes down Valium with a double brandy.

Sid in hospital. Nancy visits him with junk food, comic books, etc. They go to Paris and have a blast. Sid is approached by Hugh, who is angling to become his manager, but Nancy tells him to go away.

Sid mimes to "My Way." He blows the audience away (blood packs), including Nancy. Nancy comes back to life, and they kiss. Nancy says he could manage Sid better than Malcolm.

Sid and Nancy learn that Linda has died of cancer. Nancy is depressed about all her friends dying. She asks him that if she told him to kill her, would he?

Sid and Nancy go to her Grandpa's for dinner. She cuts his food, and talks nonstop about their gigs, methadone clinic, sex, etc. Sid says they'll go out in a blaze of glory. Originally they'd planned to spend the night and have breakfast, but after a hurried conference, Grandpa and Grandma tell them that the family's been called out of town, and pushes them out.

Sid and Nancy at the methadone clinic getting their fix. The caseworker talks about the CIA and drugs.

Nancy tries to get gigs for Sid. One manager is leery, wondering if Sid can pull it off. He finally agrees to $3000 for three gigs. Sid and his neighbor do drugs. Nancy confronts him -- he'd promised to wait until after the gig. He slugs her, stumbles out and falls down the stairs.

Sid does gig. It doesn't go all that well -- they yell for John and throw drugs at him. The band members complain that they could be better if they rehearsed and if Sid learned the lyrics. Nancy yells at them and storms out. She tells Sid that she knows best, not them. "I'm gonna take care of EVERYTHING."

Sid tries to sing, reading lyrics from a paper. Again the audience throws things -- just empty pieces of paper this time.

Sid, Nancy, and Gretchen go for drugs. Bowery, Sid, and Nancy are at the hotel. Nancy shoots up. Bowery says that Nancy should respect Sid more. Sid and Nancy eat every little, don't have sex. They accidentally set their room on fire, and watch it burn. The manager upbraids them, but acts very accomodating (scared, too) and moves them to a first-floor room.

Nancy: "Love kills."

Sid and Nancy argue about not having any drugs (she accuses him of taking some behind her back) and about who has the right to be more depressed. Bowery comes. They're rude to him, and he makes to leave, but Nancy apologizes. He throws them a packet of speed.

SId and Nancy talk about a suicide pact. They drop stuff off at neighbor's. Sid says he won't do it, though Nancy reminds him he promised. Nancy: "I can't get up tomorrow to the same thing." He tries to leave, they struggle. He grabs a knife, yelling at her if she wants to do it. She lunges, they struggle. They make up. Nancy goes to the bathroom, sees her bloody toros, calls for Sid, and collapses. Sid is fast asleep. Bowery sees Sid catatonic, playing with the knife, and Nancy on the floor. Bowery calls 911.

Repeat of a snippet from the opening, with Sid telling the photographers to fuck off.

Sid is bailed out. Meeting with him, Malcolm, Sid's mom, and F. Lee Bailey, who's going to take his case. Malcolm says Paul and Steve are coming for a band reunion.

Sid in bar. Wally tells him about Olive, who's off smack and healthy. Hugh, from Paris, comes up and asks who's handling Sid now. Sid lashes out with the bottle, splashing Hugh (who exits) and hitting Wally.

Sid is back in jail. He unscrews the ceiling bulb, which smashes on the floor. He slashes his wrist with the pieces.

Sid has gotten bailed out again. As a young cop gives Sid his things, an old cop gives him advise -- Sid should straighten up and stay out for good.

A few kids are dancing. Reluctant at first, Sid does a few steps with them. A cab drives up, with a healthy, unaddicted Nancy inside. Sid gets in, and they kiss as the cab drives off.

My notes
-- co-dependent relationship from hell. Two main characters fucked-up, bring out worst in each other. No redeeming qualities for either.
-- drugs, sex and rock 'n' roll
-- Nancy portrayed like Yoko -- controlling bitch. Sid more innocent (relatively speaking), not too bright.
-- environmental details -- garbage, blood
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FT 540 notes (from 06/17/03)
-- need to be loved. How much is need, how much desire? Love as instinct, humans a series of bodies. No real consciousness of beloved.

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