Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Quadrophenia (1979)

One of my favorite non SF/Fantasy/Horror movies in Franc Roddam's Quadrophenia from The Who album of the same name. Roddam from Norton, Stockton-on-Tees, just near where I live, had directed for TV but made his directorial debut at the cinema with this 1979 movie of 1960's Mods and Rockers and Jimmy who loathes his job and parents and who lives for his Scooter and hanging around with his Mod pals.

The movie was filmed entirely on location except for one studio set and featured a cast of unknowns a few who went onto greater things and those who were never heard of again.The film now considered by many to be a cult classic was heavily panned by the critics upon it's release for it's drug use, violence, sex and swearing, but like most cult movies picked up strong word of mouth from the people going to see it, and started a Mod revival in the late 70's for a few years.
The film was voted 35th Greatest British film in a magazine poll in 2004

Plot synopsis:
It's London, 1964, and Jimmy is a member of a Mod gang (well-dressed youths who ride Vespa and Lambretta scooters). Mods are always fighting with Rockers, who in turn wear black leather and ride motorcycles. Disillusioned by his parents and a dead-end job in an advertising firm, Jimmy only finds an outlet for his teenage angst with his mod pals Dave, Chalky and Spider. A three-day bank holiday provides the excuse for the rivalry between the two gangs to come to a head, as they both descend upon the seaside town of Brighton. The film is a reflection of the proto-punky, pre-Thatcherite Britain, documenting the amphetamine-fueled narcissism of youth culture in the 1960s. Central to the story are the clashes between Mods and Rockers of the time, culminating with a bloody battle on a beach at Brighton, which was based on a real life event.

The film stars Phil Daniels in the leading role as Jimmy. The film also stars Toyah Willcox, Mark Wingett, Leslie Ash, Ray Winstone, Timothy Spall, Phil Davis, Michael Elphick, Kate Williams, Sting and John Altman.
The amusing stories on the DVD about Sting (Ace Face) state that although he was meant to be top Mod, he couldn't dance and he couldn't ride a scooter properly, also when the younger cast found out his real name was Gordon they would taunt him with the song 'Gordon is a Moron' a 1978 song by Jilted John. The DVD also mentions that the extra's at Brighton during the fighting were actually the people who just happened to be there at the time, a ready made crowd to watch all these youths fight. The alley way where Jimmy and Steph have sex has become a shrine for fans of the movie when they visit Brighton, the adorn the wall in graffiti which gets cleaned off at regular intervals only to be graffitied by more fans. I'd have to say one of my favorite moments is where Jimmy is knocked off his scooter by the Postal Van and the argument that follows. Also the breaking into the chemist shop in search of 'blues'. All in all Quadrophenia is a cool movie, well worth seeing if you haven't.

The music for the film though for the most part performed by The Who is also interspersed with other 60's hits by groups such as Booker T. & the MG's, The Kingsmen, High Numbers and James Brown


I. N. J. Culbard said...

I used to work with a fella who played a copper in this film. It was when I used to be a security guard working in an art gallery (like the ones you see in Batman cartoons who always get done over by the Riddler ... that was me). There was a fight scene and he got kicked in the klackers by someone famous or other.

Sting I think (cue joke; "yes, I'd imagine it did a fair bit")

Andrew Glazebrook said...

It does say on the Documentary that a lot of the Police where stuntmen and felt they were above the youths playing the gangs so Roddam said to the Mods 'get stuck in and have a real go at em'

I. N. J. Culbard said...

Sounds about right.

TimeWarden said...

I went to see "Quadrophenia" when I was at Uni. These days, Mum and Dad have just been watching Mark Wingett being written out of "The Bill" for the umpteenth time, while Phil Daniels has been sharing scenes with "Torchwood" actor Burn Gorman in "EastEnders"!

"It's not fair. Yeah, yeah!" The Jilted John song is currently being used in a commercial so no doubt a reissue is imminent. The film itself always puts me in mind of a famous Ringo quote. When asked, by the press, if he was a mod or a rocker Mr Starkey replied, "Neither, I'm a mocker!"

Steve said...

Classic movie. And the only film where Sting's acting doesn't get on my nellies.

Michael G Clark said...

"Mr postie, bastard!" Yup, my fave bit in the movie too.

At school I had way too many 'lambrettas' and '2 Tone' badges on me blazer. I may have been a mod.