History of the World According to the Movies: Part 87 – 1970s Europe


The 1986 film Sid and Nancy that stars Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb as the doomed lovers Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen. Though the movie doesn’t quite get the 1970s British punk rock scene right, it captures the self-destructive and dysfunctional nature that their relationship was (which was plagued by sex, drugs, and rock n roll as well as craziness). Yet, while this movie may not have an accurate depiction of Nancy’s murder, it’s very likely Sid did it though Sex Pistols fans dispute this.

Yet, the US wasn’t the only happening place in the 1970s. Europe had a lot of things going on there as well. You have the Cold War slacking off in Eastern Europe where there was a short period of stability and economic growth as well as a bit of openness of Western Media. So it’s no surprise that people in that area would embrace fashions from the 1970s and continue to wear them until the 2000s. In 1975, the last Francisco Franco would finally die and would be succeed by King Juan Carlos who decided to become a constitutional monarch in a democratic state. Also, Franco would stay dead. The Troubles (that began in 1966) would be in full swing in Northern Ireland during this time between the Catholic IRA and the Unionist Protestants (though this didn’t mean that they were practicing however) that sparked a wave of terrorism that would last a couple of decades. In Great Britain, despite the Beatles breaking up, you had a music scene that included Led Zeppelin, Queen, the Sex Pistols, Elvis Costello, and others. You also had Monty Python there as well, which we shouldn’t forget about.Some of them would be from the 1960s while others would not. There aren’t a lot of movies set at this time though the films out there do contain their share of inaccuracies which I shall list.


Yves Saint Laurent died in 1976 or soon after. (Contrary to his biopic, Yves lived for another 32 years.)

West Germany:

Ignes Ponto was sitting on the patio in sunshine when her husband got shot. (Contrary to the Baader Meinhof Complex she was making a phone call when she witnessed her husband getting assassinated in their house.)


Cerebral palsy author Christy Brown wrote My Left Foot while seeing English nurse Mary Carr. (He had already written his autobiography by 1954 unlike what the movie suggests. In fact, he was a well established author who already had an affair with a married American woman by then who administered a strict working regimen for him mostly by denying him booze until a day’s work was completed {yet he dumped her after over a decade for Carr who may not have been a nurse}.)

Christy Brown lived happily ever after with Mary Carr. (Contrary to what My Left Foot wants you to believe, they didn’t live happily ever after. Brown would remain a recluse for the later years of his life and his health deteriorated. He died by choking on a piece of meat in 1981 and his body was found to have significant bruising that led many to believe that Carr had abused him. Thus, he spent his later life in an angry alcoholic haze married to a cheating bisexual alcoholic prostitute who neglected him and whisked him away to an ocean front cottage in Kerry to hide him from his anxious family and friends. His final works were critical and commercial failures. After his death, Mary threw out many of his paintings.)

Great Britain:

David Frost:

David Frost met Caroline Cushing during his interviews with Richard Nixon. (Contrary to Frost/Nixon, they had been dating five years by then.)

Margaret Thatcher:

Margaret Thatcher was mainly occupied as a wife and mother. (Yes, she was married and had kids but she was a career politician since 1950 where she sat on a podium next to her dad and discussed the welfare state during a Dafford selection meeting.)

Margaret Thatcher became leader of the Conservative Party by going through a fabulous blow dry. (Though The Iron Lady suggests this, she most likely didn’t. Yet, I beg to differ about Sarah Palin, on the other hand.)

Margaret Thatcher said goodby to Airey Neave a few moments before his assassination. (Contrary to The Iron Lady, she wasn’t in Westminster at the time and carrying out official business elsewhere when she found out.)


Formula One racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda loathed each other. (Contrary to Rush, they were rivals but they were also good friends. When Hunt won his Formula Two Race in 1972 at Oulton Park, Lauda and fellow driver Ronnie Peterson congratulated him and “were genuinely happy to see James finally get a share of the success they felt he deserved.” Hunt would also say, “I got on very well with Niki and always had done since we first met in Formula Three and gypsied around Europe together. We raced against each other but we also teamed up as mates, not just casual acquaintances.”)

Lord Alexander Hesketh’s money problems caused him to sell his Easton Nelson estate. (He sold it to a Russian businessman in 2005.)

Nicki Lauda’s relationship with Marlene Knaus was love at first sight. (Yes, it was, yet unlike in Rush, he dumped his girlfriend of 8 years for her. So he probably wasn’t as disciplined and obsessive as he was in the film.)

Derby county soccer manager David Mackay betrayed Brian Clough to become the team’s manager. (Contrary to The Damned United, Mackay sued the film’s production company over such implication.)

Brian Clough:

Leeds soccer manager Brian Clough burned his predecessor’s desk. (Contrary to The Damned United, his son Nigel said he did no such thing. Still, you have to praise The Damned United for showing what goes on in a sports team as realistically as possible and avoids all the twists and turns of a traditional sports movie. Also, Don Revie didn’t snub him for his son said it would’ve been completely out of character for him to do so. Besides, Revie was being promoted to manage England’s national team when Clough replaced him.)

Brian Clough never managed the Brighton & Hove Albion club. (Actually he did with his assistant Peter Taylor during the 1973-1974 season contrary to The Damned United a famous British sports movie. The team finished 19th.The film’s said to get a lot of things wrong about the actual events though and I’ll leave it at that since I’m an American who doesn’t like sports and would know nothing about British soccer anyway.)

Brian Clough blamed Leeds for his team’s loss to the Italians. (Contrary to The Damned United, Clough felt that the Juventus team influenced the referee in favor on their side and berated Leeds.)

Brian Clough represented soccer player Brian Bremner when the latter was punished for sending off in the Charity Shield. (Contrary to The Damned United, Bremner was represented by Maurice Lindley. Also, though seen belligerently unrepentant in the film, a fellow player remarked that Bremner apologized during his hearing and was close to tears. Still, as an American, I don’t know who these people are.)


The Sex Pistols:

Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen were in their late twenties when they met. (They met in their early 20s but they’re played by 30 year old Gary Oldman and 28 year old Chloe Webb.)

After the Sex Pistols’ first gig, Sid Vicious assaulted a critic Dick Dent with a bass guitar. (Contrary to Sid and Nancy, he whipped NME reporter Nick Kent with a bike chain.)

Nancy Spungen gave Sid Vicious his trademark chain/padlock necklace. (It was actually given to him by Pretenders lead singer Chrissie Hynde.)

Sid Vicious was a terrible bassist who didn’t know how to play. (This is disputed. He never played bass prior to being hired for the Sex Pistols yet he was willing to learn. Yet, that’s not to say he didn’t have any musical talent because he was a drummer and singer before that point. Still, bass guitar wasn’t his forte and he’s said to be a better singer than Johnny Rotten though but hiring him as the lead singer wasn’t an option for manager Malcolm McLaren. Nevertheless, Sid’s dreadful bass playing had less to do with his talent as a musician and more to do with the fact he was assigned the wrong instrument.)

Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen had a suicide pact but Vicious reneged and stabbed Nancy in a heated argument. (This is how Nancy was killed in Sid and Nancy but we’re not sure what happened on the night she was killed though most people believed that Sid was responsible despite him telling different stories and later retracting his confession. I mean he was a long term drug addict with a history of violent behavior, including several arrests.)

Nancy Spungen introduced Sid Vicious to heroin. (Contrary to Sid and Nancy, Sid was already doing hard drugs before he met her. His mother was a drug dealer, too.)


Michael Peterson (a.k.a Charles Bronson):

Michael Peterson was sent to prison for robbing a post office of £42 and some change. (Contrary to Bronson, the amount was £26.18.)

Northern Ireland:

The Troubles:

The Guilford Four:

Gerry and Giuseppe Conlon were taken to the same prison. (Contrary to In the Name of the Father, they were in separate prisons and never saw each other again.)

The real bombers of the two Guilford soldiers’ pubs were incarcerated with the Guilford Four. (Contrary to In the Name of the Father, they weren’t. Yet, they did confess at their own trial which exonerated them. Yet, as in the film, it was dismissed by the British authorities until the evidence that the police had lied about the Guilford Four’s “confessions” was revealed.)

There was an alibi witness for the Guilford Four. (There wasn’t. Rather the police falsified their interrogation notes to cover up the coercion they used to obtain their “confessions.” Let’s just say enhance interrogation techniques were involved. Yet, unlike in In the Name of the Father, this was discovered by another British police detective, not the Four’s lawyer.)


Reebok was a popular shoe brand in 1972. (The first Reeboks were made in 1978.)

Visa and Master Card were in business in 1971. (Actually Visa wasn’t around until 1977 and Master Card was known as “Master Charge” until 1979.)

The smiley face logo was created in the late 1970s. (It was created in the early 1970s but it was passed its peak in popularity by the late 1970s though.)

1977 was the year of three Popes. (It was 1978.)

Disco music was the dominant music genre of the 1970s. (There was a lot music diversity during the 1970s with genres like Southern Rock, Country Rock, Punk Rock, J-Pop, Soul R&B, Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Alternative Rock, New Wave, Soft Rock, Glam Rock, and Rap Music .)

Disco was just a fad. (In the United States maybe, but disco music stayed popular in Great Britain well into the 1980s influencing genres like New Wave, synthpop, and other styles. In Eastern Europe and Russia, disco lingered well into the 1990s and is still popular in Poland. Also, it’s been influential in other genres of music and has a following even if the culture associated with disco has died out. Still, be prepared to see disco shows during pledge season on PBS after the doo wop generation dies out.)

One response to “History of the World According to the Movies: Part 87 – 1970s Europe

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