Very Bri tish an J Vet y 53 (I
By MARYLYN N URICCHIO
In the early 19605. traditional middleelas English.
sensibilities were stunned and bafﬂed by the emergence of
new subcultures among their youth.
The alienation. anxier and tensions of a seething and
undirected teenage papulation found an outlet in rock ’n'
roll. and they formed battalions oi Mods and Rockers in an
unprecedented attempt at mass identification.
Unlike the Hippie movement that was to follow. the '
Mods and Rockets fought pitched battles among them-
selves - not because of politics. religion. race or ideology
— but because of their differences in musical taste.
The Mods were spiffy. natty dressers, pill-poppers,
scooter riders. perhgﬂs a bit more intelligent than the
Rockets. but above the listened to the new music of
groups like The Who. The ' and the ﬂedgling Beatles.
The Rockers wore black leather. rode bikes, drank booze
and stuck by the more atablished early rock
“Quadmphenia,” now pﬁahat the Kings Court in
Oakland, was produced by 0 (Roger Daltrey, John
Entwistle, Pete Townshend and the late Keith Moon) and
coincides with their album of the same name.
The film becomes a kind of “Histo of Early Rock 'n’
Roll in England According to The 0,” which has its
weaknessm (namely the omission of many other prominent
bands of the period); yet The Who were indeed in the thick
of it and have retained a great understanding and feeling
for the time.
“Quadrophenia” is not simply another rock and roll film
( the soundtrack was originally released in 1973. so there
goes what seems to be a major irnpetus these days). Rather
it can almost be viewed as an important social, historic and
cultural document, full of apparent authenticity and very
Much of the dialogue is in dialect and slang. and director
Franc Roddam intentionally made no compromises
“It would have been easy to make a ‘mid-Atlantic’ film
for America. trying to crack the American market. Why
not do something where Americans can find something out
about the English, as well as the English discovering
something about themselves?"
The film does teach us a great deal about the 'cu-
Iarly dingyaén; very staid ordinary life of the '
working c .
Jimmy (Phil Daniels) is an average kid who longs to he
extraordinary. Paradoxically he finds asshnilation into the
Mods. with its strong code of looking and acting the same.
to be, his ticket out of humdrum society.
By day Jimmy works half-hwtedly as a mail boy in a
large corporation, and by night he roams the streets looking
for drugs and girls, and visiting clubs or crashing parties to
the heat of mostly Who music.
The juxta 'tion between the two is marvelous when. in
one scene. immy can be heard throwing up in the men‘s
room while some executives ignore his heavmg grunts and
go on politely shaving.
Jimmy's home life is mean and sterile. His parents
watch TV, drink beer and have limited aspirations for their
son. Although they love him, they cannot understand his
need for something more in life.
One by one, Jimmy‘s romantic illusions are shattered.
The hero he has respected (played bySting of the New
Wave band Police) turns out to he a lackey bellboy in a re
sort hotel The girl he loves (Leslie Ash) succumbs to his
advancm without hesitation. and then goes on to the next
His membership in the Mods leads to a violent confron-
tation on the beach at Brighton. and the exhilaration of the
riot seems pointless when there is nothing to follow it up
Alone. dejected and thoroughly disappointed, Jimmy
rida his bike over the white cliffs of Dover (just like
“Harold and Maude") although, from the opening shot of
the film it is clear he survives
“Quadmphenia” is engaging and realistic. Nudity. masr
turbation, teenage lust and language are set within a
believable rather than exploitational framework. and the
rampant violence is portrayed as symptomatic.
The Who’s songs are wisely and successfully kept in the
background. yet they add a great deal to the texture of the
Ultimately, “Quadrophenia” is a very sad film. There is
no cure for adolmnoe except aging, and the film ends
before the good tima begin