The 1970s Counterculture Classic Perfectly Encapsulates The Sound Of A Decade, Stream Right Now

By Nikola Pajtic | Published

Quadrophenia isn’t a musical, but the soundtrack drives it forward. Based on The Who’s 1973 rock opera of the same name, this gritty coming-of-age story is Franc Roddam’s directorial debut. Set in 1960s Britain at the center of the clash between the Mods and Rockers subcultures, Quadrophenia is now available to stream on Tubi.

The Who’s Movie Masterpiece

It is 1964 London where we meet Jimmy Cooper, a young teenage Mod. He already disagrees with his strict parents and hates his job as a mailroom boy who has no future. As an escape, he tries to infiltrate the world of the Mods, young fashion-forward people known for their appreciation for modern jazz, scooters, and sharp suits. This is where the film first plays with Jimmy’s identity crisis, throwing that magnificent The Who music at you with the song “Real Me” playing, setting the tone with the “Can you see the real Me” lyrics.

Without A Cause

Together with his friends, Chalky Dave and Spider, he spends his days riding a scooter, doing drugs, and, of course, clashing with the Rockers. Quadrophenia’s main star is Phil Daniels as Jimmy, who delivers fantastic antics that perfectly capture his frustration and desire for something more to life.

In addition to Daniels, this iconic ‘70s rebel drama is full of recognizable faces, including Sting as Ace Face, whom I would describe as flamboyant for lack of better words. Furthermore, Leslie Ash portrays Steph, Jimmy’s love interest, while Philip Davis and Mark Wingett complete the circle of Jimmy’s close friends. 

Drama Set To The Iconic The Who Album

The film wouldn’t be a drama if it shied away from real life. While Jimmy is initially excited about the Mod lifestyle, this idyllic premise fades as Quadrophenia progresses. Jimmy’s world falls apart, and his identity crisis takes its toll; he loses his friends and love, and Ace Face, his idol, is revealed as just another cog in the machine with the song “Bell Boy” foreshadowing the future. 

Not A Musical, Not A Music Video, Something Far More Artistic

Quadrophenia is built around the entire album as Jimmy and his friends celebrate their rebellion with “The Kids Are Alright” and “My Generation.” However, the chaos in Jimmy’s mind is seen in little detail, and there are big clashes with the opposing Rockers. 

It is full of subtle irony. You will start questioning their life choices and the set of rules they live by, as Jimmy is just chasing an empty ideal. The rebellion itself against the authority leads to his personal downfall, as Quadrophenia builds upon the consequences of its main star’s actions. 

Perfect Critic Score

Quadrophenia premiered at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival on May 14, 1979, while it had London’s Plaza cinema premiere in August of the same year. Critical reception was shockingly unamnimous. 

Many reviewers praised Phil Daniels’ performance, with some calling it raw and angst-ridden. While a few critics felt the film resembled a “low-budget homemade movie,” the overall reviews were positive. The film holds a perfect 100 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating, while The New York Times included Quadrophenia on their Best 1000 Movies Ever list.

Cult Classic You Can Stream For Free


Quadrophenia has transcended its origins as a 1979 film and became a revered cult classic. Full of raw emotions felt by teenagers of today makes it timeless. Jimmy’s struggle to find belonging in a world with rigid rules is a simple story that goes through generations. Quadrophenia is a relatable and unforgettable experience that doesn’t deserve to be forgotten in time.