D.O.A: A Right Of Pas­sage

Dir: Lech Kowal­ski

Classic Rock - - Reviews - Ian Fort­nam

Fi­nanced by the drug-smug­gling ex-Yip­pie High Times pub­lisher Tom Forçade, mav­er­ick film­maker Lech Kowal­ski took to the road in 1978 to doc­u­ment the Sex Pis­tols’ first and ul­ti­mately doomed US tour.

Along the way, he and his crew be­came per­sona non grata among the Pis­tols’ US han­dlers at Warners and had to re­sort to guer­rilla meth­ods in or­der to se­cure their price­less footage. Con­se­quently, there wasn’t enough of it (scarred and bleed­ing Sid bat­ting heads

with his bass, Rot­ten sneer­ing, “Ever get the feel­ing you’ve been cheated?” at San Francisco’s Win­ter­land) to com­plete a full-length fea­ture.

As a re­sult, the crew de­camped to Lon­don where they found the punk scene in full flow, film­ing Sham 69, X-Ray Spex, Rich Kids, Gen­er­a­tion X and oth­ers along the way.

There’s also in­ter­view and per­for­mance footage of East

End oik and anony­mous punk spear-car­rier Terry Sylvester and his band Terry And The Idiots, who are, quite lit­er­ally, use­less. Their ver­sion of Mick Ron­son’s Billy Porter re­ally has to be seen to be be­lieved.

Over­all, D.O.A. comes across as a film about ni­hilism and hope­less­ness: the in­ter­view footage with near-un­con­scious smack zom­bie Sid Vi­cious and his soon-to-be vic­tim Nancy Spun­gen is truly ‘a vi­sion of hell’.

As a his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ment it’s price­less, and the DVD ex­tras are co­pi­ous: a new doc­u­men­tary packed with eye­wit­nesses might out­stay its wel­come, but NME journo/co-di­rec­tor Chris Salewicz’s in­ter­view fea­turette adds some much­needed hu­mour to the project’s US-an­gled po-faced piety.

Warts-’n’-all Pis­tols-fo­cused vérité punk movie.

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