Who Killed Nancy -- Film Review



The title of this new documentary about the death of Nancy Spungen is a little misleading. Director Alan G. Parker doesn't really know who killed her, but he is pretty sure who didn't: her boyfriend, punk legend Sid Vicious.

Parker is no small authority on the subject, having written several books and made several documentaries about the Sex Pistols and its most infamous member. This project, based on his book "Sid Vicious: No One Is Innocent," apparently is the result of a long-ago personal request made to him by Sid's mother, who committed suicide in 1996.

Unfortunately, "Nancy," like so many position-staking docs, makes an intriguing case without being fully convincing or certainly definitive. Although there's plenty of food for thought, there's no smoking gun. Or, in this case, blood-stained knife.

But there are plenty of reasons to disagree with the official NYPD ruling that the punk rocker stabbed Spungen to death, even though he died of a drug overdose before he could be put on trial.

Among the points made is that Vicious had taken a huge dose of Tuinol, a powerful barbiturate, shortly before the murder took place and could not have been conscious during that period. Fingerprints of six people with police records were found in their room at the Chelsea Hotel, but none ever were questioned. The pair supposedly was flush after he had recently been paid in cash for his recent gigs, but no money was found. The knife that killed Nancy was left lying on a suitcase wiped clean, which hardly jibes with Sid's drug-addled "confession." And so on.

Buttressing the film's contentions is a series of recollections and testimonials from figures who knew the pair, from Sex Pistols bandmate Glen Matlock to friends, roadies, groupies and hangers-on.

Ultimately, there's not enough material to sustain a feature-length film, and the sloppy editing, cheesy re-enactments and cheap graphics don't exactly make for compelling viewing. For all the theories thrown out here, we'll probably never know for sure what really happened in Room 100 of the Chelsea Hotel that night in 1978. Until we do, we might as well, to quote "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," "print the legend."

Opens: Friday, July 30 (Peace Arch Entertainment)
Production: Ipso Facto Films, Bill & Ben Prods., Double D Prods., Moxie Makers
Director: Alan G. Parker
Producers: Ben Timlett, Christine Anderson
Executive producers: Ian Davies, Susan Douglas
Director of photography: Nick Rutter
Editor: Bill Jones
No rating, 89 minutes