Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Friday, October 1, 2010

Bronco Bullfrog - A piece of Suedehead history

The Who's Quadrophenia has to be one of the major reasons why I got so involved in the Mod culture when I was a teen. Jimmy's character spoke to me. Just like him, I always wanted to be part of the "in-crowd" and being French speaking, I always felt a bit like an outsider. For so many of you out there, that was part of the Mod Revival, probably felt the same way. There's no denying it, Quadrophenia is THE Mod movie. The same could probably be said of Suedeheads in Bronco Bullfrog.
I never had the chance to see it before. Released in British theaters in 1969 for only a short time, it achieved cult status almost instantly. It was never commercialized before this summer on video or DVD and its rarity made certain that it retained its cult movie standing.
Bronco Bullfrog is one of the rare and most honest depictions of the Suedehead culture. Suedeheads are the natural evolution and close cousins of the Mods. When Mods were becoming out-of-date in the late sixties, they eventually branched out into the Hard Mods, the Soul Boys or the Suedeheads.
I had heard there was going to be a one time showing of the movie at Blue Sunshine, Montreal's Psychotronic Film Center. What is a psychotronic film center exactly? Well... It's basically a third floor apartment on St-Laurent Blvd where a couple of movie buffs show some real underground stuff.
I met my friend Stéphane there and was invited to the kitchen for some beer and then to take place in the living room turned movie theater. We were treated to some Small Faces 60s concert footage while we were waiting for the movie to start. Quite a pleasant and unexpected bonus, I might add.

Our hostess then put the film in context by reading an excerpt of Richard Allen's novel Suedehead. Wow! She did her homework! She also explained how she obtained the rights to show the film. The story is quite simple. She wrote director Barney Platts-Mills prior to a trip to London and asked him if they could meet for coffee. He accepted! I thought her story was as captivating as the movie itself. She also warned us that she obtained the subtitled version. Really? Do we absolutely need subtitles? You bet we do!

Our hosts

The cast is composed of amateur actors that had no previous training. It is said that some of the dialogue was also improvised. Does this mean that I witnessed one of the first pieces of reality entertainment? Not quite, but for the untrained ear, the subtitles are obligatory.

The story revolves around the growing pains of Del Walker and his mates. Set in London's East End, the gang follows Bronco to pull off a heist. I found the film fascinating and touching. It won't be the type of movie I will likely watch dozens of times but I did escape to another time during 86 minutes. I wish that the soundtrack was more indicative of the Suedehead movement but overall I enjoyed it.

You can have a look at the trailer of the movie here:

Bronco Bullfrog - The trailer

You should also check out the good folks at Blue Sunshine for the upcoming events.


  1. Bfi has just released it on DVD in the U.K. (along with "Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush")so if you've got a multi region DVD player, jackpot!

  2. I have to get myself one those multi region DVD players! NOW!

  3. Just a few corrections here:
    'When Mods were becoming out-of-date in the late sixties, they eventually branched out into the Hard Mods, the Soul Boys or the Suedeheads'.

    It went mods, hard mods, skinheads, suedeheads, soul boys but at the time almost no one called them any of these names except mods.

    The book Suedehead was written by a middle aged man - only worth it really for the photo

    At the time the movie was not popular at all with the youth of the day

  4. More info on Richard Allen here: