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Quadrophenia (film)

UK poster
Directed by Franc Roddam
Produced by Roy Baird
Bill Curbishley
Written by Dave Humphries
Franc Roddam
Martin Stellman
Pete Townshend
Starring Phil Daniels
Leslie Ash
Philip Davis
Mark Wingett
Raymond Winstone
Music by The Who
Various Artists
Cinematography Brian Tufano
Edited by Sean Barton
Mike Taylor
Distributed by The Who Films
Release dates
  • 14 September 1979 (1979-09-14) (Toronto Film Festival)
Running time
117 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget £2 million[1]

Quadrophenia is a 1979 British film, loosely based on the 1973 rock opera of the same name by The Who. The film stars Phil Daniels as Jimmy, a 1960s Mod, supported by Leslie Ash, Toyah and, towards the end of the film, Sting. It was directed by Franc Roddam in his feature directing début. Unlike the film adaptation of Tommy, Quadrophenia is not a musical film.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Soundtrack 3
  • Production 4
  • DVD releases 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The film, set in 1964, follows the story of Jimmy Cooper (Phil Daniels), a London Mod. Disillusioned by his parents and a job as a post room boy in an advertising firm, Jimmy finds an outlet for his teenage angst with his Mod friends Dave (Mark Wingett), Chalky (Philip Davis) and Spider (Gary Shail). One of the Mods' rivals, the Rockers, is in fact Jimmy's childhood friend, Kevin (Ray Winstone). An assault by aggressive Rockers on Spider leads to a retaliation attack on Kevin. Jimmy participates in the assault, but when he realises the victim is Kevin, he doesn't help him, instead driving away on his scooter.

A bank holiday weekend provides the excuse for the rivalry between Mods and Rockers to come to a head, as they both descend upon the seaside town of Brighton. A series of running battles ensues. As the police close in on the rioters, Jimmy escapes down an alleyway with Steph (Leslie Ash) – a girl on whom he has a crush – and they have sex. When the pair emerge, they find themselves in the middle of the melee just as police are detaining rioters. Jimmy is arrested, detained with a violent, charismatic Mod he calls 'Ace Face' (Sting), and later fined the then-large sum of £50. When fined £75, Ace Face mocks the magistrate by offering to pay on the spot with a cheque, to the amusement of fellow Mods.

Back in London, Jimmy becomes increasingly depressed. He is thrown out of his house by his mother, who finds his stash of amphetamine pills. He then quits his job, spends his severance package on more pills, and finds out that Steph has become the girlfriend of his friend Dave. After a brief fight with Dave, the following morning his rejection is confirmed by Steph and with his beloved Lambretta scooter accidentally destroyed, Jimmy takes a train back to Brighton. In an attempt to relive the recent excitement, he revisits the scenes of the riots and of his encounter with Steph. To his horror, Jimmy discovers that his idol, Ace Face, is in reality a lowly bellboy at a Brighton hotel. Jimmy steals Ace's scooter and heads out to Beachy Head, crashing the scooter over a cliff, which is where the film begins with Jimmy walking back from the cliff top in the sunset back drop.


John Lydon (Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols) screen-tested for the role of Jimmy. However, the distributors of the film refused to insure him for the part and he was replaced by Phil Daniels.[2][3]

Ray Winstone, Phil Daniels, P. H. Moriarty and Julian Firth all appeared in the film Scum, after filming Quadrophenia.

Michael Elphick played an ageing Rocker in 1980s TV series Boon.

Most of the cast were reunited after 28 years at Earls Court on 1 and 2 September 2007 as part of The Quadrophenia Reunion at the London Film & Comic Con run by[4] Subsequently the cast agreed to be part of a Quadrophenia Convention at Brighton in 2009.[4]

Spall and Daniels also appeared together in Chicken Run with Spall voicing Nick and Daniels voicing Fetcher, along with Whitrow, who voiced Fowler.



Alley between East Street and Little East Street, Brighton, England, made famous as the location where Jimmy Cooper and Steph have sex in Quadrophenia. The small yard is to the right of the "Chris from Margate" graffiti, a spot often visited and left with graffiti to mark that visit. Turning left will take you to East Street.

Several references to The Who appear throughout the film, including an anachronistic inclusion of a repackaged Who album that was not available at the time, a clip of the band performing "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere" on the TV series Ready Steady Go!, pictures of the band and a "Maximum R&B" poster in Jimmy's bedroom, and the inclusion of "My Generation" during a party gatecrashing scene. The film was almost cancelled when Keith Moon, the drummer for The Who, died, but in the words of Roddam, the producers, Roy Baird and Bill Curbishley, "held it together" and the film was made.

Only one scene in the whole film was shot in the studio; all others were on location. Beachy Head, where Jimmy attempts suicide at the end of the film, was the location of a real-life suicide that supposedly influenced the film's ending.

The stunt coordinators underestimated the distance that the scooter would fly through the air after being driven off Beachy Head. Franc Roddam, who shot the scene from a helicopter, was almost hit.

Jeff Dexter, a club dancer and disc jockey fixture in the Sixties London music scene was the DJ in the club scenes, and was the uncredited choreographer of 500 extras for the ballroom and club scenes. He also choreographed Sting's feet in his dance close-ups. Dexter managed America whose first major gig at "Implosion" at The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, was the opening act to The Who on 20 December 1970.

DVD releases

Universal first released the film on DVD in 1999 with an 8-minute montage featurette. It used the VHS print, resulting in a much lower-quality video than expected.

Following this in the US was a special edition by Rhino, which included a remastered matted wide screen transfer, a commentary, several interviews, galleries, and a quiz. However, it was a shorter cut of the film, with several minutes of footage missing.

On 7 August 2006, Universal improved upon their original DVD with a Region 2 two-disc special edition. The film was digitally remastered and included a brand new commentary by Franc Roddam, Phil Daniels and Leslie Ash. Disc 2 features an hour-long documentary and a featurette with Roddam discussing the locations.[5] Unlike their previous DVD, it was the complete, longer version, and it was matted to the correct aspect ratio.

On 1 January 2012, The Criterion Collection hinted in their annual New Year's drawing that they would be releasing a special edition version of this movie, presumably on both DVD and Blu-Ray formats.[6] This edition was released on 28 August 2012.


  1. ^ Alex von Tunzelmann. "Quadrophenia: back when Britain's youngsters ran riot". The Guardian (London). 
  2. ^ "Internet Movie Database". Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  3. ^ Catterall, Ali; Wells, Simon (2002). Your Face Here: British Cult Movies Since the Sixties.  
  4. ^ a b "QUADCON The Quadrophenia Movie Convention". Retrieved 15 November 2008. 
  5. ^ "Pete Townshend – Who I Am: the autobiography". Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  6. ^ "Happy New Year! – From the Current – The Criterion Collection". 1 January 2012. Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  • Ali Catterall and Simon Wells, Your Face Here: British Cult Movies Since The Sixties (Fourth Estate, 2001) ISBN 0-00-714554-3

External links

  • Quadrophenia at the Internet Movie Database
  • Quadrophenia at AllMovie
  • Quadrophenia at Rotten Tomatoes
  • Liner notes on – songs Get Out And Stay Out, Four Faces, Joker James
  • The Quadrophenia Collection at Littledean Jail
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