(1980) dir. Jack Hazan, David Mingay
This film, a feeble attempt at making a narrative story of a drunken would-be roadie for The Clash during their earliest heydey, is a jumbled and often boring mess. Cobbled together as it was, the film attempts to capture the zeitgeist of late-1970’s England, the racism, the conservatism, poverty, hopelessness, the landscape that brought about the rise of the Punk scene. But these glimpses are muddled and misbegotten. The only thing this film really has going for it, its probably raison d’etre, is the close following of The Clash through 1978 and 1979 with lots of great performances from a seminal band finding its prime.
I’d always been curious about this film because it was one of the films that seemed to play every month on the late-great cable television show, Night Flight, which introduced me to an unbelievable amount of fascinating stuff. It was a great show and they showed some films, cartoons, music videos, all sorts of stuff from 11PM to 5AM.
But this movie sucks. And the producers seem to know it. On the DVD, you have the option to just watch the band’s performances, skipping all the extraneous storyline about the misadventures of the would-be roadie. This is probably the way to enjoy this, actually. The “movie” part is awful. Oddly, this film chose to go in the direction of narrative instead of documentary, but oddly its documentarian pieces, casual chats with the band, band practices, landscapes of London and other English cities’ glum and poison, The Clash in their absolute prime…this is the value. The documentary aspects.