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Quadrophenia - The Film

Graham Smith

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Right, first of all, this isn't a wind-up!

I was contacted yesterday by a guy called Dave Wyburn who is writing a book all about the film Quadrophenia.

All of the main characters (Phil Daniels, Leslie Ash, Philip Davis, Sting, Ray Winstone et al) are contributing to it, and now that part of writing the book is over, they're keen to contact all of the 'extras' who played a part.

That's where we come in. Dave (the author) reckons there's a couple of Vincents featured at some point in the film (ridden by the rockers I would have thought', and they're keen to track them down, to see who they belonged to, and to see if they still exist, so any information anyone's get, he'd be most pleased to hear from you.

The film was only on the TV a few weeks ago here in the UK. Had I known there were some Vincents featured, I would have kept an eye out for them. Has anyone got a copy of Quadrophenia on DVD?

His contact details are

E-mail: davewyburn@hotmail.com

Telephone: 07887 646 087
 
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Graham Smith

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I'm getting rid of all my old stuff on ebay at the moment - not buying!

If I buy any more old c**p, Sally will divorce me.

Hmmmm, now there's a thought. What was that number again?
 

Nulli Secundus

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Hi Graham,

I don't recall any Vincents featuring in Quadrophenia and I would normally spot them from a mile away. I've got the film and will watch it again to check if I missed them. If they are there and have visible registration numbers I'll let you know.

Regards

David
 

Nulli Secundus

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VOC Forum Moderator
Hi Graham,

I have just watched the film again and did not spot any Vincents. I also watched the features part of the DVD and thought I had spotted a Vincent front wheel in a post fight/riot scene shot in Brighton. If it was it had unpainted forks and only a near side brake drum!

So the Vincents are either conspicuous by there absence or they must have made the cutting room floor.

Regards

David
 

b'knighted

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VOC Member
Brighton - I was there - I made the cutting room floor

I heard an appeal on Capital Radio for period bikes and riders to audition for Quadrophenia.

With two other RAC/ACU instructors riding their Dad’s bikes I went somewhere in London where we, and our bikes, were looked at by a lady casting director and introduced to Franc Roddam.

I don’t recall much about that day except that on the ride up there the borrowed 3TA startled a dog, the borrowed Atlas got it running and it was ready for me when I came round the corner. It grabbed my right ankle and hung on despite me trying to shake it off. Did you know that an Alsatian can do best part of 40mph running sideways before it has to let go?

My Comet, FFE720, was at that time extremely tidy and standard, not quite concours as its cad plate was a year or two old. It did have both front brakes and painted blades. It was the only vehicle I owned and I saw no other Vincents in Brighton while I was there.

I was later contacted and asked to supply my Comet as the lead Rocker bike. I didn’t like to disabuse them about what a rocker might have really been riding but explained that I wasn’t prepared to let just anyone ride it. I was invited to go to Brighton early to train the actor before filming.

After work on the Friday before I was supposed to go to Brighton, I headed off for the Scottish rally but threw the bike off the A1 up near Leeds. I mashed my right foot by using to protect the side of the bike from the ground but a kerbstone I was crossing wiped my foot out of the way and punched the brake pedal pivot nut through the clutch inspection cover. The front mudguard was horribly distorted by the old rail fence that eventually stopped me. With my foot pinned under the bike and held by the camping gear strapped to the seat I had a little rest. The damage was superficial but my foot was so painful that I couldn’t ride. The RAC man said that my condition was irrelevant and that recovery was for disabled vehicles, not riders. Then he looked at the bike and asked if there was oil in the primary chaincase. Satisfied with my answer he got on his radio to arrange recovery saying the bike couldn’t be ridden because of the hole in its sump. Back in London on the Sunday, I got a friend to take me to hospital and started on the painkillers. Off sick, I soon recovered enough to ride over to Conway’s in Goldhawk Road to buy a new front mudguard. I mounted it and made up a front numberplate on wire stays fitted around the mudguard stay bolts and the bottom bolts holding the balance beam plate.

I got to Brighton on the Wednesday to find I was wearing the only leather jacket in that part of the world. The other five hundred two wheeler riders in the town all had parkas. I was soon ensconced in the local bike shop where I helped out a bit on fixing film company scooters but mainly just got paid for cleaning and polishing my Comet. The major prop in the shop was the remains of Ace’s Vespa that Jimmy had ridden off Beachy head. There may have been an intact one as well as I definitely saw Sting riding one on the front. There was a scooterist there working on his Lambretta which had the year suffix of its number plate taped over. That evening we went out for a drink and as we squeezed into a crowded bar he turned back to me and said “Don’t worry mate, if there’s any trouble I’m on your side!” Great 2 against 500 instead of being all alone.
Every day I went to try to arrange a meeting with the actor who was supposed to ride my bike, but every day he was unavailable. I spent time as an extra, mainly waiting around, often in the corner café. Roger Daltrey came around and took pictures of the Comet, which was forced to wear a rolled up blanket over the headlight, easy rider style, as that’s what the producers thought rocker’s bikes were like. For one day I swapped jackets with a lad from the Barnsley Scooter Club, or was it the Barnsley Bovver Boys. He got the Lightning leather and I spent the day in his parka. He (and the leather) are seen in the back of the police van where Ace (a pre-fame Sting, method acting) offers him a cigarette and snaps the case shut on his fingers. He wasn’t acting, it was real blood. Sting had been off the night before to film his first ever Old Grey Whistle Test performance and an unknown young actress (Toyah Wicox) went along as a backing singer. Another actress told me that Toyah was totally ambitious and would do anything to become a star. Sting did offer me the chance to be thrown through a window, so I checked that it was sugar glass but when I learned that it was just the original shop window in plate glass I declined, and he used a crate.
I, with all the other “Rockers”, was filmed and recorded (the sound man rode in a sidecar) riding out to Beachy Head. It was very windy and the front number plate blade acted like a sail, turning the forks away from the wind. I removed it after the film and would never choose to have another. At Beachy Head we sheltered from the weather in the back of furniture van. We didn’t know what we were waiting for. Some of those bikers weren’t as genteel as me and I felt about as comfortable as I had in the pub full of skinhead “Mods”. While we were there Jimmy (Phil Daniels) appeared on the Vespa. He stopped across the open end of the van and I felt the atmosphere change. It was probably the only time I have really felt an atmosphere go electric as many of the leary characters bristled with latent violence.
Phil looked in and said, in an innocent, slightly hurt voice, “Don’t laugh at me” which immediately defused the situation, as there was nothing to do but laugh.
That was the day we filmed the courtroom scene where the camera tracked around and ended up zooming in on me at the back. I was possibly the only bearded person there. This does not appear in the film or on the DVD. I definitely made it to the cutting room floor.
Another day Phil Daniels was with us in the café talking bikes and he wanted a pillion ride on the Vincent but wasn’t allowed to take any risks, as injury at that point would have cost the film company too much. He sent me off to ride round the block and when I got back and stopped at the corner, he ran out and jumped on the back for a trip round Brighton.
I believe that the other extras were paid £10.00 a day which wasn’t bad money in those days. As they wanted my bike I got £25 a day plus all meals and B&B paid for. On the tenth day they said, “Right this is it, this guy is going to ride your bike up the road, chased by a crowd of Mods, screech to a halt in front of the café, drop the bike on its prop stand and run into the café.”
I said “ No he isn’t, I’ve never seen him on a bike.” Despite all sorts of verbal guarantees about any damage to the bike being sorted, I wouldn’t take the chance as I needed it for everyday transport, so they borrowed a TriBsa and shot the scene without me. Given the Kwaka propstand on the pillion plate that we all now use, I may have gone with it, but knowing the Vin propstands, I still think I was right.
I made a quarter of the price I had paid for the Comet in ten days of being off sick from work and had a memorable experience.
I have the double DVD set with all the stuff about the making of the film and although I was there for part of it and know where to look, I haven’t managed to see me or my bike (or any other Vincent) in any of it. I will check again for the bit that Dave Dale mentions.

Phil Daniels went on to make film called Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire which I believe features some nightmare scenes with a Vincent and Steib. Co-incidence?

The Comet is currently street legal, but nowhere near as pretty as it was then.

As I have got the Knight now I have bought the 1984 DVD but frozen frames of the Thought Police are terrible quality. It doesn't seem possible to identify any individual bike but someone out there must know which bikes made it into that film. Should I start a new thread or has that already been done to death?
 
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wld50

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Non-VOC Member
1984

In case it hasnt been 'done to death' here are some clues: I opened a copy of 'The Motor Cycle', 1955 1 Sept issue at Cheltenham yesterday because it had a Firefly advertisement on the front cover and inside, in the 'Occasional Comments' section written by Ixion there are two poor quality photos, from "1984".

The captions read:
Thought Policeman! G. Batchelor and his modified Vincent will appear in the film version of George Orwell's famous book "1984"

The bike is an enclosed Series D with black timing chest and fins- so a Black Prince with the stencilled-on number TP 1426 (probably 'Thought Police' 1426 rather than licence plate?) on an very lowered front mudguard, - probably made by the props department G Batchelor has a large handlebar moustache, possibly also by the same department.

The second picture caption reads:
'Another scene from "1984." The Vincent Black Knight- and Black Prince- mounted riders depicting a Thought Police squad are all members of the Vincent Owners' Club. This scene was shot in the bombed wasteland behind the historic Guildhall, London.'

There are five bikes in the picture but sadly no numbers.
There is no accompanying text, presumably TMC/ Ixion had dealt with the film in a previous issue. Librarians alert!

I'm not sure of the owner of the copyright for photos in The Motor Cycle (anyone know?) otherwise I'd post them

lyn
 
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