By Jake Gallagher
In 1983, The Clash returned to England following a world tour in support of The Who. They were tired, road weary, their original drummer Topper Headon had just been fired, their fearless leader Joe Strummer was having trouble finding inspiration and spending more time arguing with guitarist Mick Jones than writing songs; the group was on the brink of collapse. But, instead of taking some time apart to try to salvage their relationships, The Clash dove headfirst into an entirely new project titled Hell W10. For years Strummer had wanted to make a film, and with some downtime on his hands, he saw an opportunity to finally create the silent, gangster movie of his dreams. Over the next few months The Clash’s remaining band members, roadies, friends, and random hanger-ons operated as cast and crew to achieve Strummer’s bizarro vision. The result is forty-nine minutes of fights, shoddy dialogue, and home video quality cinematography, all backed by an epic soundtrack of Clash songs. The movie also has some incredible costumes. Ranging from mod-rocker get-ups, to white tuxedos, to military inspired thug uniforms, to wide-shouldered gangster suits, the wardrobe shows that no matter what the medium, the “only band that matters” were still masters at self-presentation. As amateurish as the film may be, and as palpable as the group’s growing disdain for each other is in almost every frame, Hell W10 is still a great visual document of one of the most stylish bands of all time.
A modern take on the protagonist’s outfit: