D.O.A: A Right Of Passage
Dir: Lech Kowalski
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As a historical document it’s priceless, and the DVD extras are copious: a new documentary packed with eyewitnesses might outstay its welcome, but NME journo/co-director Chris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.