Return to . Parkalif
Two decades after the parka reared its furry
hood in the fashion
stakes. the classic mod movie Qaadmphenia is being re—released. Eddie Gibb asks the film’s star Phil Daniels what all the
fuss is about.
Brltsquat: Phil Daniels as Jimmy in Ouadrophenla
16 The List 24 Jan-6 Feb 1997
uring the spin-cycle of street fashion. the mods have been an ever-present influence since the first Ace Face slipped into an Italian tailored suit with the obligatory three-button jacket. two side vents and loin bottoms. ln Franc Roddam‘s classic mod movie Qaadmphenia — re-released this month — Jimmy (Phil Daniels) pays off the final instalment on just such a suit in time for the Bank Holiday scooter run to Brighton. ‘Handsomef he smirks. Quar/mp/ienia was first released in NW. just as the first angry shout of punk was dying out. but a couple of years before the dandified New Romantics llounced out of their bedrooms. The Jam had kept the mod ﬂame burning through the sartorially dark days of bondage trousers and over-sized mohair jumpers. Paul Weller always was one for his Fred Perry shirts and narrow-legged suits. revering mod icons The Small Faces above all others. London was where it was at. and a magazine called simply The Face was launched to report from this exploding fashion frontline. And then there was The Who. By that stage they were rocking out stadia across the USA. the very thing that punk had spat on. But the mod revival ensured memories of their glory days - resplendent in Union Jack jackets and white drainpipe jeans — and meant it was possible to overlook singer Roger Daltrey‘s poodle-perm.
The timing was perfect to make a movie of
Qma/mphenia. The Who's concept album from 1973 about a lone mod taking on the world. Eighteen years on. we're back where
g... started. Besides the -.':.'."i"-2',*_'
(jam/rophenia. /’V('H'.\'ll'(’(’/\' magazine has declared London the official swinging capital of pop and
mods are speeding up the charts in a pilled-up bid for stardom. They're calling this particular revival Britpop. but self- consciously ‘l.ondon‘
‘There were lots of things going on in my lite which were in Jimmy’s life too. [But] he’s some skinny geezer I don’t really know any more.’
fashion. and a new generation of
bands like Blur and The Bluetones are reallyjust mods at heart. It was no accident that Daniels was hired to supplement Damon Albarn’s ‘Mockney‘ vocals on the title track of Blur’s Par/(life album.
‘The guitarist knows nearly all of the lines I’ve ever said in anything.‘ says Daniels. ‘They sent me a tape. and I rang up my mate who‘s the editor of the New Musical Express and said. who are this band. are they any good or what? He said they‘ll do all right. so I said l’ll do it then. Then they became mates.‘
The band was connecting not just with Qam/mphenia. but all Daniels‘s work from the early 80s when he was the Cockney hooligan of choice for many casting directors. One of his finest screen moments was in Mike Leigh's Meantime in which he played a bored. destructive product of the inner-city's concrete jungle. As Colchester boys. the suburban Blur were looking for a slice of authentic London. and King’s Cross- born Daniels was the real deal.
However. the fact that he had played Jimmy provided an unmissable link with the band's retro fascinations — Quadmphenia is set in I964. but viewed through the post-punk lens. Blur added a mid-90s twist. as a mod revival spttn round again. The sense oft/(fir) vu is cemented by the re-release of Qmulmphenia. which Oasis singer Liam Gallagher — a northern post- mod(ernist) — has said is his favourite film.
Roddam now says he never intended to make a film about style: he was interested in the way teenagers created an identity for themselves which. for the first time. was different to that of their parents. Mod was the first truly British youth sub-culture. born out of ()()s never-had-it- so-good prosperity and The Pill.
‘When you're young. you are bossed around by your parents and school.‘ Roddam says. ‘Then there's a gap when you are free before taking on the responsibilities of marriage. family and houses. I think that’s the interesting period. when you find out who you want to be. before reality gets you.‘
In the film. Jimmy works as the mail-boy in an advertising agency -- another ()()s boom that would have a revolutionary impact — but spends all day dreaming of the weekend. A quid bought twenty uppers. enough for a couple of days' amphetamitie-accelerated fun in clubs playing ska and American R&l3. The scooter represented freedom: the suit was the establishment uniform worn by working-class kids in defiance of the nine-to-five.
Qma/mphenia is the British version of Marlon Brando's biker movie. The Wild One. and one of the first credible youth movies. ‘They weren't so accepted then like 'lrains/maing is now.‘ says Daniels. who is still most often recognised as Jimmy the Mod. As a result. he has mixed feelings about the re-release of the movie. He understands its importance as a cult film. but has moved on. having built up a solid reputation in theatre during the 80s. Looking back. how similar to the character was he then‘.’
‘There was obviously bits and pieces.’ says Daniels. ‘l was the same age as Jimmy. l was living at home when I did the film and it was about living at borne. There were lots of things going on in my life which were in Jimmy’s life too. [But] he's some skinny geezer I don‘t really know any more.‘
Quadmphenia is re-re/eased on Fri 3 I Jan a! the Film/muse. [Edinburgh and the S/tmvcase C inema, Glasgow.