Who Film, Ltd., 1979
Rhino Home Video, 1990
by Tammy Vrieze
Have you browsed through the shelves at the video store and come across one of your favorite stars on the cover of a film you’ve never heard of? Have you ever rented this video only to find that your hero only appears in the film for a few minutes? Quadrophenia is one of those films.
Pop music star, Sting, makes his acting debut as Ace Face, the coolest member of the Mods, a British gang that wore suits and rode scooters in the sixties. Ace Face rides the slickest Vespa, attracts the sexiest “birds” and always has plenty of cash and attitude, but he is barely on screen for ten minutes.
As misleading as it is to find Sting on the cover, it’s more misleading to find Quadrophenia on every list of biker movies in every catalog I’ve seen. There are hundreds of scooters and café racers in the film, but the bikes bear little relevance to the plot. The movie focuses on a Mod named Jimmy who struggles with women, drugs, popularity, and the Mods ongoing rivalry with the motorcycle riding Rockers. This rivalry results in the film’s climactic riot in Brighton. Movie buffs will recognize the Harold and Maude finale.
Quadrophenia is titled after and contains the soundtrack of the Who’s album of the same name, but bears no similarity to the Who’s rock opera Tommy. The music is merely background.
Despite this movie’s little fibs, it continues to be one of my favorite Sunday afternoon movies.