Time Out No. 567, February 25, 1981

Posted on 14th August 2017 in "Times Square"
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Time Out No. 567, February 25, 1981 -  Cover illustration of Robin Johnson by Su Huntley Time Out No. 567, February 25, 1981, p. 3 (contents)

“Of course Robert [Stigwood] wants to make money. Money is the bottom line. But I don’t think he is using me for that prime reason … I hope not, God.”

 

Robin made the cover of London’s Time Out, sort of, to illustrate their cover story, an in-depth analysis of the exploitation of young actors and actresses in Hollywood, and the rough lives of young runaways in the heart of London, the two parts being tied together with an interview with Robin herself. The cover and interior illustrations were by Su Huntley.

Time Out No. 567, February 25, 1981, p. 14  text:  Part I Suffer The Little Children Can adolescent innocence cure adult anxiety? Ian Birch and Fiona Ferguson watch Hollywood line up the pretty maids (and pubescent boys) all in a row. ILLUSTRATIONS BY SU HUNTLEY Since the late ’70s Hollywood has spawned a new type of baby boom. Between 1978 and 1980 over a dozen titles appeared which dealt specifically with early adolescence and its traditional problems. Pre-pubescent stars (you’re an OAP at 16) variously wrestled with pre-teen traumas. Youth, it seemed, was back, and younger than ever. Not that it ever went all that far away. The child star has been an integral part of cinema iconography since the start. Remember ‘The Girl’ in early Chaplin? Shirley Temple as the perennial orphan during the ’30s? Leslie Caron in ‘Gigi’ and Hayley Mills twinned in ‘The Parent Trap’? But why is there such a profusion of such youthful pictures now? In part, they relate to a general resurgence of interest in teenybop. The recession has forced the high street to look for new markets and they’ve chosen the new pocket money generation as a prime target. Sometimes the campaign works. Smash Hits, the rock fortnightly for ‘younger teens’ started in the autumn of ’78 by Nick Logan, rocketed from zero to an immediate circulation of 123,000. It’s now the market leader, ironically beating Logan’s former paper, New Musical Express. It is successful because it identifies exactly with its audience, giving them what they want in a witty and intelligent way. The same tactic has meant similar acclaim for TV’s ‘Grange Hill’—a look at acned life in a suburban comprehensive— and ‘Twentieth Century Box’—a documentary series with a prescient awareness of today’s teens. The fashion industry presents a more complicated picture. It, too, has discovered the commerciality of ‘pretty babies’. New names like Kristine Oulman (12), Cathleen Ess (13), Lena Reid (15) and Phoebe Cates (16) can earn anything from $750 to $1,500 per session, but the undisputed star is Brooke Shields who can command a $1 million contract for modelling Calvin Klein jeans. The difference here is that these child-women cater for their elders rather than their contemporaries. They sell clothes that their mums want to wear and there is an unnerving logic to the device. The gamine look has always been crucial to both fashion and movieland, but traditionally it has been evoked by more mature models. Instead of getting older people to synthesise the look, why not use the genuine article? More importantly, the appeal of these child-women resembles that of soft pom. Shields is always tastefully presented in her photos and films (and with extraordinary propriety, a 35-year-old stand-in played the nude sequences in ‘The Blue Lagoon’). But the knowledge that she is so young makes the fantasy she projects so much more intense and risque. The American TV ad for the Klein jeans exploits just this hybrid illicit tease and upmarket sophistication. Shields purrs: ‘Wanna know what comes between me and my jeans? Nothing.’ Shields personifies the style of this new, would-be adult. Sex is underscored by a lot of innocence and a lack of experience. Shaky talent is partially camouflaged by the publicity of controversy. The cool distance of an icon is offset by the cosy warmth of youth. Malcolm McLaren, rock music’s supreme manipulator, has taken this to its logical conclusion with his latest proteges, Bow Wow Wow, fronted by 14-year-old Annabella. By making the band’s image outrageously explicit, he keeps all his options open. On the one hand, he mocks hidden sex and disguised lechery and, on the other, makes a lot of money out of it. But the key to the current baby bonanza in the movies lies in the mid-’70s. Louis Malle’s ‘Pretty Baby’ and Martin Scorsese’s ‘Taxi Driver’ made i overt use of two recognised child stars as 12-year-old prostitutes—Shields and Jodie Foster respectively. The furore created by showing children in unmistakably ‘corrupted’ roles contributed to the UK ‘Protection of Children Act’ becoming law in 1978. Designed to protect minors against exploitative labour, it also applies to finished work imported into this country. Under its auspices, ‘Taxi Driver’ was withdrawn after two years’ distribution and re-cut. The cumulative effect on movies was complex. Because the Act focussed attention on the commercial potential of micro-boppers, there was a spate of pre- teen pics. Because it reflected a growing conservatism within the media, it instigated a middle-aged backlash which frantically shied away from the previous ‘realism*. The themes of the new movies underline this again and again. Innocence and romance become the order of the day. In ‘A Little Romance’ a pair of 13-year-olds run away from Paris to Venice so that they can ‘kiss beneath the Bridge of Sighs at sunset as the bells of the Campanile toll’, and thus guarantee their eternal love. When two 12-year-olds get mildly drunk in ‘Rich Kids’, the extent of their transgression is an ingenuous romp in a bubble bath. This fairytale quality appears in home 14 TIME OUT 27 FEBRUARY 1981-5 MARCH 1981 Suffer the little children, part I (page 2), Time Out No. 567, February 25, 1981, p. 15  Text:  Cover Story   life. Siblings are unknown and parents are generally one-dimensional figures in the background. The rich kids are misunderstood because their parents are too busy and the poor kids are victims of social deprivation. Here worldly adults may kowtow to class distinctions, but children are as yet immune and choose their chums on an unaffected basis. Social opposites  attract rather than repel. In ‘Times Square’ Robin Johnson is the orphaned street punk while Trini Alvardo (also in ‘A Little Romance’) is the sheltered daughter of an ambitious politician. ‘My Bodyguard’ pairs wealthy hotelier’s son Chris Makepeace with Adam Baldwin, an alleged psychopath from the seedy end of town. Where sex does emerge, it’s embarrassed, confused and unreliable. When Kristy McNichol beats Tatum O’Neal in the race ‘to become a woman’ (‘Little Darlings’), we are treated to a shot of a lighted boathouse window where she and Matt Dillon (the male star most likely to) are dallying. ‘Womanhood’ only makes Kristy morose. She goes off Matt and can only regain her teenage appeal when she decides that sex is for adults and that Tatum is really her best ally. ‘The Blue Lagoon’ goes a few steps further with idiotic expositions of puberty (‘why are all these funny hairs growing on my face?’), masturbation (back view of boy on a rock, right arm jerking), copulation (legs intertwine, camera veers away) and birth (one small groan and a gleaming baby appears from somewhere off the bottom of the screen). The result of this idealising process is to push kids out of the picture altogether. By turning them into emblems—scapegoats, even, in some cases—the movies become vehicles for grown-ups to explore grown-up anxieties. Youth, they argue, has the candour and simplicity to cure adult cynicism and ambiguity. For instance, when faced with opposition, kids simply run away. The perils of New York’s 42nd Street in the early hours of the morning do not present a problem. The heroines of ‘Times Square’ simply dash about the sex shops and boogaloo with local pimps like it was an English country fair. The ‘realistic’ trappings are only present to set the scene which, in intention, is closer to Arcadia than Brooklyn. The extent of such fantasy also shows just how desperately parents need reassurance at the moment. As the period of childhood innocence seems to grow shorter with each successive generation, parents want to be convinced that, no matter what the outside temptations or opportunities, their little Adam or Eve is not going to bite the apple. And yet these parents are creating the situation just as much as they are trying to resolve it. As Sylvere Lotringer, a philosophy lecturer at Columbia University, told New York magazine recently: ‘The pretty babies are forbidden but they have already become cover girls. That’s what counts. The fact that they’re posing means they’re for sale. With the promotion of pretty babies as cover girls—which cannot occur without the active support of their parents—a new step is taken in the destruction of Western values, which are already shaky and obsolete in regard to the actual laws of the marketplace.’ The pre-teen pics are, effectively, a scream for help. They have to believe that innocence will shine through, that moral integrity must bring salvation. They’re pleading: ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me.’  'Nobody likes to think they’re being used’ One such child is Robin Johnson (age: 16, daily cigarette consumption: 70) whose fiery performance went some way to salvaging ‘Times Square’. Did you want to be an actress? I never seriously thought about acting. It never really crossed my mind. I was just going to school. I was a regular teenager. I would just hang out with my friends at Brooklyn Tech High School. I wanted to be a lawyer—my father is a compensation lawyer and that’s probably where I got the idea. My mother didn’t drag me around to auditions and I didn’t take drama at school. That’s why it’s a bit weird that it has all happened. I was in my sophomore year of high school (roughly equivalent to the fifth form) when this guy found me. He asked me ‘Are you 16?’ I looked at him—‘What the hell are you asking me this for? What do you want to know how old I am for?’ And that’s when he started telling me about the movie. Was the role that was offered to you very different from the one that actually turned up on the screen? No. I knew that Nicky was an incorrigible delinquent—a kind of outlandish character who doesn’t really have roots, someone who is always getting into trouble. Her character wasn’t changed. Was the final product very different from what had been originally intended? Were there many cuts? Didn’t you notice how quickly we changed our hair colour? The continuity is very jumpy. There’s one scene in particular: we are driving in the ambulance, and they play ‘I Need Love’, and the scene just cuts, and we are on a train and we have both got short red hair. They cut out scenes where they show us running out of a pharmacy in Manhattan. You obviously notice that Nicky has stolen something, and what she stole was henna. Pamela and Nicky then have this kind of ceremony. We are on the Jersey side of the Hudson river and we mix up this goo, put it in a hubcap and pour the gloppy stuff over our hair. It was very ceremonial you know. The lighting is very low, it’s very slow motion, very symbolic and over my head, but actually we were hysterical. Did you think that these symbolic devices were rather obscure? Like the TV- smashing campaign? The whole reason for us dropping TV sets off roofs is that Nicky wants what’s real. Nicky thinks that ‘real’ is the most exciting. That’s why she loves Times Square. It’s real seedy—it’s graunch you know—but it’s real, and Nicky thinks TV is plastic. But then that is never explained in the movie. It is cut rather badly. We refer to things later on in the movie that are cut out earlier. It is very confusing. When I first saw it I said people are definitely going to have to see this twice.  I had to see it twice and I made the damn thing.  Did the scenes that they cut have anything in common? Yeah. I think they mostly had weird kinda offbeat things in them. So they had to find a kind of medium: we can’t let it be too weird or it’s going to get too small an audience and maybe end up a cult like ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’. And we can’t be too commercial because then it’s going to be trash. Were you consulted at all about that? Oh no. Whatever goes on in the editing room we have nothing to do with. Were you pissed off about that? I was . . . When I first saw the movie it was with my immediate family and we were all a bit disjointed, a bit disoriented. I didn’t particularly like the film as a whole. I like the individual performances very much. I’m pleased with what I did. Trini is absolutely adorable and she’s gotten better with age.  Do you think the film works principally on a fairytale level or a realistic level, or both? I think all the kids watching the movie are going to realise that first of all the film skips over the practicalities of life. How do we eat? Who the hell wants to live in a pier anyway? I can’t worry about every single kid that is going to watch this film. I think that most are smart enough to realise that. . . look ... if they are going to try and run away, they are going to be back home in time for dinner. Where am I going to sleep? How am I gonna eat? I haven’t got my soft warm bed, I don’t have dinner which my mummy cooks for me.  Don’t you think that the film is absurdly romantic? To set it in Times Square and never mention drugs! About the drugs: Nicky, you figure, is definitely the type that’ll at least light up a joint. But see, a scene is cut when we are driving in the ambulance. Nicky steals some carroteen pills from the hospital and she says ‘Here, take some of these.’ And Pamela is thinking ‘What the fuck is she giving me?’ But she takes them and Nicky takes them. Then Nicky says ‘Oh don’t worry, they’re not drugs, not speed, especially not speed. I hate speed, my mother ODed.. It’s interesting that the film is bookended with a couple of black guys who’ve obviously ODed on something. We are just trying to show some of the life on the street around there. There were a lot of junkies, a lot of hookers, life is so crime-ridden. Like the subways, it’s the easiest place to get mugged. Over the last couple of years there has been an upsurge of pre-teen stars like Brooke Shields . . . God I hate her. She’s so boring. Do you feel you are being manipulated on account of your youth? Of course nobody likes to think they are being used by anybody. See, Robert (Stigwood) seems to be very interested in the kind of image I give off, but it’s not that kind of teenage image. He’s given me a great contract and flattering offers that aren’t heard of much now. I’m going to do two more films. The first is a sequel to ‘Grease’ with Andy Gibb. Of course Robert wants to make money. Money is the bottom line. But I don’t think he is using me for that prime reason ... I hope not, God.  Filmography   ‘Taxi Driver’ (X) directed by Martin Scorsese with Jodie Foster, 1976. ‘Pretty Baby’ (X) directed by Louis Malle with Brooke Shields, 1977. ‘Ice Castles’ (A) directed by Donald Wrye with Lynn-Holly Johnson and Robby Benson, 1978. ‘Tilt’ (A) directed by Rudy Durand with Brooke Shields, 1978. ‘Rich Kids’ (AA) directed by Robert M Young with Trini Alvarado and Jeremy Levy, 1979. ‘A Little Romance’ (A) directed by George Roy Hill with Diane Lane and Thelonious Bernard, 1979. ‘Cattle Annie and Little Britches’ (A) directed by Lamont Johnson with Diane Lane and Amanda Plummer, 1980. ‘Little Darlings’ (AA) directed by Ronald F Maxwell with Tatum O’Neal, Kristy McNichol and Matt Dillon, 1980. ‘The Blue Lagoon’ (AA) directed by Randal Kleiser with Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins, 1980. ‘Times Square. (AA) directed by Alan Moyle with Robin Johnson and Trini Alvarado, 1980. ‘My Bodyguard’ (A) directed by Tony Bill with Matt Dillon, Chris Makepeace and Adam Baldwin, 1980.  TIMEOUT 15

Part I of “Suffer the Little Children,” by Ian Birch and Fiona Ferguson, deals with the sexualization and exploitation of a then-new generation of young actors, with a brief passage regarding Times Square that doesn’t really seem to fit the theme. This is followed by an interview with Robin, in which she details many things she finds problematic with the film, the future of her three-picture deal with Robert Stigwood, and the offhand concern, astounding in hindsight, that produced the quote I’ve put at the top of this post.

Hilary Shore, "Suffer the little children part II", Time Out No. 567, February 25, 1981, p. 16  Text:  Part II Suffer The Little Children  Film fantasies draw the young to the bright lights of the capital, where they find . . . nothing much . No work, no housing, and precious little official aid. Hilary Shore investigates survival at street level for the kids who go sleaze in London. Go where there is work, said Mrs T brightly Flopped on a bed in a Clerkenwell hostel was a girl of five foot nothing with a cough that filled the room. She said she was 16 and she liked to be called Nipper. In May 1980 she left her Stockport school with an average absence of qualifications and the dream of a career. By which she meant a job in an office. Filing. By December, she had held three jobs, for a few weeks each. The final one paid £35 for a 37 hour week. Her Dad said get a job or get out. Anxious that staying on might mean another parental separation, Nipper, always close to her Mum, saw no choice but to leave. And visiting home was her sister, 18, call her Alison. Alison left home two years ago in similar circumstances, Nipper would stay in her London flat. There are seven children in the family. But you expected that. Alison and Nipper would hitch to London, they would have a great time, Nipper would sign on, find a job. After all, there are lots of offices in London—in between the pubs and shops, the clubs and Georgian terraces. Arriving in the late afternoon, her sister took her straight to meet her friends, to the West End. They stayed on and on, and actually there was no flat; there was nowhere to stay. Alison was on the circuit. Roaming the streets Of Piccadilly, sheltering in the fast-food cafes around Leicester Square, drinking with the others who roam, drifting on nameless drugs which are freely shared. Just mixing in an image for the moviemakers, a sob story for the newspapers, a platform for the politicians, inspiration for the songwriters, cases for the police.Part II of “Suffer the Little Children” by Hilary Shore uses the album cover from the Times Square soundtrack in its Su Huntley illustration, but it really has nothing to do with the movie. It initially asserts “Film fantasies draw the young to the bright lights of the capital, where they find . . . nothing much . No work, no housing, and precious little official aid. Hilary Shore investigates survival at street level for the kids who go sleaze in London,” and has as a section header “Go sleaze in Times Square, said the poster in Piccadilly,” but it does very little to support the idea that kids got the idea to run to London from the movies in general and Times Square in particular. It is a sad look at the real lives of homeless runaway teens in 1980s London, but the Times Square connection is a bit of editorial sleight-of-hand.

Therefore, I am presenting here first the Robin Johnson interview, whose first line follows directly from the last line of “Suffer the Little Children Part I,” which I will reproduce immediately below it. I’m not going to post the text of “Part II” unless there’s a huge outcry for it, which there won’t be.

Photo illustrating Suffer the little children, part I (page 2), Time Out No. 567, February 25, 1981, p. 15  ‘Times Square. (AA) directed by Alan Moyle with Robin Johnson and Trini Alvarado, 1980.

‘Nobody likes to think they’re being used’

One such child is Robin Johnson (age: 16, daily cigarette consumption: 70) whose fiery performance went some way to salvaging ‘Times Square’.

Did you want to be an actress?

I never seriously thought about acting. It never really crossed my mind. I was just going to school. I was a regular teenager. I would just hang out with my friends at Brooklyn Tech High School.

I wanted to be a lawyer—my father is a compensation lawyer and that’s probably where I got the idea. My mother didn’t drag me around to auditions and I didn’t take drama at school. That’s why it’s a bit weird that it has all happened. I was in my sophomore year of high school (roughly equivalent to the fifth form) when this guy found me. He asked me ‘Are you 16?’ I looked at him—‘What the hell are you asking me this for? What do you want to know how old I am for?’ And that’s when he started telling me about the movie.

Was the role that was offered to you very different from the one that actually turned up on the screen?

No. I knew that Nicky was an incorrigible delinquent—a kind of outlandish character who doesn’t really have roots, someone who is always getting into trouble. Her character wasn’t changed.

Was the final product very different from what had been originally intended? Were there many cuts?

Didn’t you notice how quickly we changed our hair colour? The continuity is very jumpy. There’s one scene in particular: we are driving in the ambulance, and they play ‘I Need Love’, and the scene just cuts, and we are on a train and we have both got short red hair. They cut out scenes where they show us running out of a pharmacy in Manhattan. You obviously notice that Nicky has stolen something, and what she stole was henna.

Pamela and Nicky then have this kind of ceremony. We are on the Jersey side of the Hudson river and we mix up this goo, put it in a hubcap and pour the gloppy stuff over our hair. It was very ceremonial you know. The lighting is very low, it’s very slow motion, very symbolic and over my head, but actually we were hysterical.

Did you think that these symbolic devices were rather obscure? Like the TV- smashing campaign?

The whole reason for us dropping TV sets off roofs is that Nicky wants what’s real. Nicky thinks that ‘real’ is the most exciting. That’s why she loves Times Square. It’s real seedy—it’s graunch you know—but it’s real, and Nicky thinks TV is plastic. But then that is never explained in the movie.

It is cut rather badly. We refer to things later on in the movie that are cut out earlier. It is very confusing. When I first saw it I said people are definitely going to have to see this twice. I had to see it twice and I made the damn thing.

Did the scenes that they cut have anything in common?

Yeah. I think they mostly had weird kinda offbeat things in them. So they had to find a kind of medium: we can’t let it be too weird or it’s going to get too small an audience and maybe end up a cult like ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’. And we can’t be too commercial because then it’s going to be trash.

Were you consulted at all about that?

Oh no. Whatever goes on in the editing room we have nothing to do with.

Were you pissed off about that?

I was . . . When I first saw the movie it was with my immediate family and we were all a bit disjointed, a bit disoriented. I didn’t particularly like the film as a whole. I like the individual performances very much. I’m pleased with what I did. Trini is absolutely adorable and she’s gotten better with age.

Do you think the film works principally on a fairytale level or a realistic level, or both?

I think all the kids watching the movie are going to realise that first of all the film skips over the practicalities of life. How do we eat? Who the hell wants to live in a pier anyway? I can’t worry about every single kid that is going to watch this film. I think that most are smart enough to realise that. . . look … if they are going to try and run away, they are going to be back home in time for dinner. Where am I going to sleep? How am I gonna eat? I haven’t got my soft warm bed, I don’t have dinner which my mummy cooks for me.

Don’t you think that the film is absurdly romantic? To set it in Times Square and never mention drugs!

About the drugs: Nicky, you figure, is definitely the type that’ll at least light up a joint. But see, a scene is cut when we are driving in the ambulance. Nicky steals some carroteen pills from the hospital and she says ‘Here, take some of these.’ And Pamela is thinking ‘What the fuck is she giving me?’ But she takes them and Nicky takes them. Then Nicky says ‘Oh don’t worry, they’re not drugs, not speed, especially not speed. I hate speed, my mother ODed..

It’s interesting that the film is bookended with a couple of black guys who’ve obviously ODed on something.

We are just trying to show some of the life on the street around there. There were a lot of junkies, a lot of hookers, life is so crime-ridden. Like the subways, it’s the easiest place to get mugged.

Over the last couple of years there has been an upsurge of pre-teen stars like Brooke Shields . . .

God I hate her. She’s so boring.

Do you feel you are being manipulated on account of your youth?

Of course nobody likes to think they are being used by anybody. See, Robert (Stigwood) seems to be very interested in the kind of image I give off, but it’s not that kind of teenage image. He’s given me a great contract and flattering offers that aren’t heard of much now. I’m going to do two more films. The first is a sequel to ‘Grease’ with Andy Gibb. Of course Robert wants to make money. Money is the bottom line. But I don’t think he is using me for that prime reason … I hope not, God.

Part I

Suffer The Little Children

Can adolescent innocence cure adult anxiety? Ian Birch and Fiona Ferguson watch Hollywood line up the pretty maids (and pubescent boys) all in a row.

ILLUSTRATIONS BY SU HUNTLEY

Since the late ’70s Hollywood has spawned a new type of baby boom.

Between 1978 and 1980 over a dozen titles appeared which dealt specifically with early adolescence and its traditional problems. Pre-pubescent stars (you’re an OAP at 16) variously wrestled with pre-teen traumas. Youth, it seemed, was back, and younger than ever.

Not that it ever went all that far away. The child star has been an integral part of cinema iconography since the start. Remember ‘The Girl’ in early Chaplin? Shirley Temple as the perennial orphan during the ’30s? Leslie Caron in ‘Gigi’ and Hayley Mills twinned in ‘The Parent Trap’? But why is there such a profusion of such youthful pictures now?

In part, they relate to a general resurgence of interest in teenybop. The recession has forced the high street to look for new markets and they’ve chosen the new pocket money generation as a prime target.

Sometimes the campaign works. Smash Hits, the rock fortnightly for ‘younger teens’ started in the autumn of ’78 by Nick Logan, rocketed from zero to an immediate circulation of 123,000. It’s now the market leader, ironically beating Logan’s former paper, New Musical Express. It is successful because it identifies exactly with its audience, giving them what they want in a witty and intelligent way.

The same tactic has meant similar acclaim for TV’s ‘Grange Hill’—a look at acned life in a suburban comprehensive— and ‘Twentieth Century Box’—a documentary series with a prescient awareness of today’s teens.

The fashion industry presents a more complicated picture. It, too, has discovered the commerciality of ‘pretty babies’. New names like Kristine Oulman (12), Cathleen Ess (13), Lena Reid (15) and Phoebe Cates (16) can earn anything from $750 to $1,500 per session, but the undisputed star is Brooke Shields who can command a $1 million contract for modelling Calvin Klein jeans.

The difference here is that these child-women cater for their elders rather than their contemporaries. They sell clothes that their mums want to wear and there is an unnerving logic to the device. The gamine look has always been crucial to both fashion and movieland, but traditionally it has been evoked by more mature models. Instead of getting older people to synthesise the look, why not use the genuine article?

More importantly, the appeal of these child-women resembles that of soft pom. Shields is always tastefully presented in her photos and films (and with extraordinary propriety, a 35-year-old stand-in played the nude sequences in ‘The Blue Lagoon’). But the knowledge that she is so young makes the fantasy she projects so much more intense and risque.

The American TV ad for the Klein jeans exploits just this hybrid illicit tease and upmarket sophistication. Shields purrs: ‘Wanna know what comes between me and my jeans? Nothing.’

Shields personifies the style of this new, would-be adult. Sex is underscored by a lot of innocence and a lack of experience. Shaky talent is partially camouflaged by the publicity of controversy. The cool distance of an icon is offset by the cosy warmth of youth.

Malcolm McLaren, rock music’s supreme manipulator, has taken this to its logical conclusion with his latest proteges, Bow Wow Wow, fronted by 14-year-old Annabella. By making the band’s image outrageously explicit, he keeps all his options open. On the one hand, he mocks hidden sex and disguised lechery and, on the other, makes a lot of money out of it.

But the key to the current baby bonanza in the movies lies in the mid-’70s. Louis Malle’s ‘Pretty Baby’ and Martin Scorsese’s ‘Taxi Driver’ made i overt use of two recognised child stars as 12-year-old prostitutes—Shields and Jodie Foster respectively.

The furore created by showing children in unmistakably ‘corrupted’ roles contributed to the UK ‘Protection of Children Act’ becoming law in 1978. Designed to protect minors against exploitative labour, it also applies to finished work imported into this country. Under its auspices, ‘Taxi Driver’ was withdrawn after two years’ distribution and re-cut.

The cumulative effect on movies was complex. Because the Act focussed attention on the commercial potential of micro-boppers, there was a spate of pre- teen pics. Because it reflected a growing conservatism within the media, it instigated a middle-aged backlash which frantically shied away from the previous ‘realism’.

The themes of the new movies underline this again and again. Innocence and romance become the order of the day. In ‘A Little Romance’ a pair of 13-year-olds run away from Paris to Venice so that they can ‘kiss beneath the Bridge of Sighs at sunset as the bells of the Campanile toll’, and thus guarantee their eternal love. When two 12-year-olds get mildly drunk in ‘Rich Kids’, the extent of their transgression is an ingenuous romp in a bubble bath.

This fairytale quality appears in home life. Siblings are unknown and parents are generally one-dimensional figures in the background. The rich kids are misunderstood because their parents are too busy and the poor kids are victims of social deprivation.

Here worldly adults may kowtow to class distinctions, but children are as yet immune and choose their chums on an unaffected basis. Social opposites attract rather than repel. In ‘Times Square’ Robin Johnson is the orphaned street punk while Trini Alvardo (also in ‘A Little Romance’) is the sheltered daughter of an ambitious politician. ‘My Bodyguard’ pairs wealthy hotelier’s son Chris Makepeace with Adam Baldwin, an alleged psychopath from the seedy end of town.

Where sex does emerge, it’s embarrassed, confused and unreliable. When Kristy McNichol beats Tatum O’Neal in the race ‘to become a woman’ (‘Little Darlings’), we are treated to a shot of a lighted boathouse window where she and Matt Dillon (the male star most likely to) are dallying.

‘Womanhood’ only makes Kristy morose. She goes off Matt and can only regain her teenage appeal when she decides that sex is for adults and that Tatum is really her best ally.

‘The Blue Lagoon’ goes a few steps further with idiotic expositions of puberty (‘why are all these funny hairs growing on my face?’), masturbation (back view of boy on a rock, right arm jerking), copulation (legs intertwine, camera veers away) and birth (one small groan and a gleaming baby appears from somewhere off the bottom of the screen).

The result of this idealising process is to push kids out of the picture altogether. By turning them into emblems—scapegoats, even, in some cases—the movies become vehicles for grown-ups to explore grown-up anxieties. Youth, they argue, has the candour and simplicity to cure adult cynicism and ambiguity.

For instance, when faced with opposition, kids simply run away. The perils of New York’s 42nd Street in the early hours of the morning do not present a problem. The heroines of ‘Times Square’ simply dash about the sex shops and boogaloo with local pimps like it was an English country fair. The ‘realistic’ trappings are only present to set the scene which, in intention, is closer to Arcadia than Brooklyn.

The extent of such fantasy also shows just how desperately parents need reassurance at the moment. As the period of childhood innocence seems to grow shorter with each successive generation, parents want to be convinced that, no matter what the outside temptations or opportunities, their little Adam or Eve is not going to bite the apple.

And yet these parents are creating the situation just as much as they are trying to resolve it. As Sylvere Lotringer, a philosophy lecturer at Columbia University, told New York magazine recently: ‘The pretty babies are forbidden but they have already become cover girls. That’s what counts. The fact that they’re posing means they’re for sale. With the promotion of pretty babies as cover girls—which cannot occur without the active support of their parents—a new step is taken in the destruction of Western values, which are already shaky and obsolete in regard to the actual laws of the marketplace.’

The pre-teen pics are, effectively, a scream for help. They have to believe that innocence will shine through, that moral integrity must bring salvation. They’re pleading: ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me.’

For all of Robin’s offhanded concern that she was being exploited by Stigwood… she was the one cast member who was sent around the world to promote the film. In hindsight it certainly seems that she was actually there to promote herself as a bankable star property and to push her next two Stigwood-backed movies, Times Square already being a lost cause at that point. However, she was so consistently brutally honest in giving her opinions of how bad Times Square turned out and exactly what was wrong with it… I wonder, is it possible that Stigwood decided she was too much of a liability, since she was just as likely as not to trash the product she was supposed to be selling, and that was why those next two projects never happened?

 

 


Time Out No. 567, February 25, 1981 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389) ; 28 x 21.25 cm; (contains:)
Birch, Ian and Ferguson, Fiona, Suffer the little children part I (article, AAT ID: 300048715), pp. 14-15
‘Nobody likes to think they’re being used’ [interview with Robin Johnson] (interview, AAT ID: 300026392), p. 15
Shore, Hilary, Suffer the little children part II (article, AAT ID: 300048715), pp. 16-17 (work)
Time Out No 567 Feb 25 1981 p1_1080px.jpg
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Time Out No 567 Feb 25 1981 p15_image_800px.jpg
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©1981 Time Out Limited


 

Bande Originale du Film Times Square (soundtrack album, French edition)

Posted on 3rd August 2017 in "Times Square"
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I made another exception to my decision not to collect any more copies of the soundtrack when I saw the bright red labels on this French edition. Sadly we don’t get all the text in French as well.

It’s pretty much identical to the Canadian version, with the blank red spot in place of Nicky’s Johnny LaGuardia pin on the front, and the copyrights on the back, and throughout, attributed to Multiplier N.V.

The inner sleeves are no longer identical: they’re now labelled Disque 1 and Disque 2 with their catalog numbers, even though the complete track listing for all four sides is on both of them. The printing information “Montreuil Offset / « Imprimé et Fabriqué en France »” is new. And the line “Mastered at STERLING SOUND by George Marino” is back. (If there’s a huge outcry I’ll post the Disque 2 sleeve, but it seems a waste of space since they’re otherwise identical.)

These red labels were what got my attention, and at least we get the album title in French. Otherwise, though, it’s the same as all the other variant editions, and the music is of course unchanged.

Seeing this cover version with the great red spot again made me think, though — the spot is 2½ inches across. The Australian sticker is about 2¼ inches across. Is it possible that the stickers weren’t just a promotional product, but were meant to be pasted over the spot on the Australian edition? Seems logical. But, I’ve never seen an Australian copy so I don’t know if they have a red spot, or a sticker stuck there, or what. I do know that logic has precious little to do with any aspect of Times Square.

 

Bande originale du film Times Square, RSO 2658 145; France, 1980; 2 long-playing records (AAT 300265802) with gatefold picture sleeve (AAT 300266823) and illustrated inner sleeves (work);
 
©1980 Multiplier N.V.

 

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TIMES SQUARE IS MUSIC OF THE STREETS

Posted on 23rd July 2017 in "Times Square"
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Australian promotional sticker, front, 1981

 

WHAT: A yellow-orange, red, and black sticker, 2¼ inches in diameter, with text reading “Times Square is music of the streets.”

WHERE: Australia. The tag line on the Australian posters was “Times Square is the music of the streets.” The sticker omits the first “the.” Also, where the phrase is in a graffiti-like style on the poster, the sticker uses the distressed typewriter font on black strips from the soundtrack album. The orange and red background also replicates the design of the album cover. This would appear to be a crossover promotional item linking the soundtrack to the film in Australia.

WHEN: Presumably early 1981.

WHO: If it’s pushing the soundtrack, RSO. The sticker itself doesn’t say.

WHY: God only knows.

 

 

Times Square is music of the streets
Australia : sticker : AAT ID: 300027221 : 2.25 in. diam. : 1981 (work);
Times_Square Australian Daybill 1981_1080px.jpg
1080 x 1072 px, 96 dpi, 659 kb (image)

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

Times Square Australian Daybill

Posted on 12th July 2017 in "Times Square"
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Small movie poster for TIMES SQUARE featuring a Mick Rock photo of Robin Johnson. Text: TIMES SQUARE IS THE MUSIC OF THE STREETS TIM CURRY © 1980 Butterfly Valley N.V. GD FILM DISTRIBUTORS EMI M ROBERT STIGWOOD Presents “TIMES SQUARE”  Starring TIM CURRY • TRINI ALVARADO  And Introducing ROBIN JOHNSON  Also Starring PETER COFFIELD • HERBERT BERGHOF  DAVID MARGUUES • ANNA MARIA HORSFORD  Executive Producers KEVIN McCORMICK • JOHN NICOLELLA  Directed by ALAN MOYLE Produced by ROBERT STIGWOOD and JACOB BRACKMAN  Screenplay by JACOB BRACKMAN  Story by ALAN MOYLE and LEANNE UNGER  Associate Producer BILL OAKES  An EMI-ITC Production Soundtrack available on RSO Records and Tapes RSO Featuring the Music of Suzi Quatro • The Pretenders • Roxy Music • Gary Numan • Marcy Levy & Robin Gibb  Talking Heads • Joe Jackson • The Ramones • Lou Reed • Patti Smith Group ... And More! Robert Burton Printers Pty.

 

According to IMDb, Times Square opened in Australia on February 6, 1981. Robin and her mother went there to continue RSO/EMI’s publicity tour, and I’m pretty sure she made a brief but strong impression on Australian television discussing her discovery and career-to-come. As this was just before the home consumer video recording market took off, none of those appearances survive as far as I know.

Strangely, all the interviews she gave to magazines seem to have been published well after she would have returned to America, making them useless as promotion for Times Square.

The daybill is essentially the same as the ad that ran in Movie 81. There was also a full-size poster, with again the same basic design, which I don’t have.

A pressbook similar to the American one but more elaborate was distributed in Australia. I’ve seen photos of it but not found a copy.

 

 

[Times Square daybill]
Australia : poster : AAT ID: 300027221 : 75 x 32 cm. : 1981 (work);
Times_Square Australian Daybill 1981_1080px.jpg
1080 x 475 px, 96 dpi, 314 kb (images)

 

©1980 Butterfly Valley, N.V.
Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

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Movie 81 No. 2, February 1981

Posted on 1st July 2017 in "Times Square"
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Australian movie magazine containing article about TIMES SQUARE (1980)

“There’s a hot new talent, Robin Johnson in Robert Stigwood’s Times Square…”

contents and editorial page of Australian movie magazine containing article about TIMES SQUARE (1980) relevant text: There's a hot new talent, Robin Johnson in Robert Stigwood's Times Square...

 

Times Square was still in theaters in London when the February Movie 81 came out in Australia and editor John Fraser made the above announcement.

Movie 81 No. 2, February 1981, pp. 14-15  Text:  TIMES SQUARE  AN APPRAISAL BY TERRY O BRIEN  Like the music which accompanies it on a pulsating soundtrack of rock, Times Square is a story of the streets. It’s about rebellion on a small scale, a search for some kind of basic freedom and a need to live life rather than simply exist. By setting the story in Times Square (surely the definitive microcosm of all that is good and bad in pre-packaged urban society), there’s a perfect, ready-made background of excitement, urgency and even danger that is inherent in that milieu. Surviving day to day in this environment is Nicky Marotta (Robin Johnson) a free spirit with aspirations of becoming a rock star. Her very wayward, uncompromising manner lands her in a psychiatric hospital for tests. While there, she meets Pamela Pearl (Trini Alvarado), a shy girl whose personality, unlike Nicky’s, has been submerged by her environment. She is, in fact, at quite the opposite end of the spectrum to Nicky. Moreover, Pamela’s father is a politician who has promised to clean up the seedier side of Times Square. The two girls escape from the hospital and, in their own way, take on the establishment with acts that supposedly symbolise their rejection of the plastic culture. Their exploits are covered and encouraged by Johnny LaGuardia (Tim Curry), a disc-jockey who turns the couple into celebrities with a following which allows Nicky, ultimately, a brief moment of fame as a rock singer. Another aspect of the story is the effect that each of the girls has on the other. Nicky’s life-style allows Pamela to experiment with her own and to break out of her protective shell. (It’s interesting that once she has had her freedom she decides to return to her father, though, one suspects, on her own terms.) Conversely, the poetic and sensitive Pamela brings about a change in Nicky who finds she has her first real friend and, subsequently, a basis for believing in herself. Robin Johnson, in her movie debut, is a sensation. Her Nicky is vibrant, exciting and fragile—and one of the most interesting movie characters in years. She is a find of the first order! Trini Alvarado is her perfect foil and willing pupil. Tim Curry’s eccentric exploitive disc-jockey is a far cry from his Frank N’ Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but is, again, a fascinating performance. The movie’s feeling of rebellion and non-acceptance of some of society’s values is reflected in the music—a constant background of rock by some of today’s more prominent performers. James A. Contner’s cameras have caught some spectacular shots of New York, especially from atop the building from which Johnny broadcasts. Times Square is a showcase for some new and little-seen talent.  Producers: Robert Stigwood Jacob Brackman Director: Allan Moyle  The neon nerve centre of young New York, tuned to a furious rock beat—amps up, full power on, with all-night disc jockey Johnny (Tim Curry) perched in his skyscraper studio waiting for the moment.

 

The two-page spread later in the issue is comprised of “An Appraisal by Terry O’Brien,” which from here in the 21st Century reads more like a promotional press release than a critical review. It is, though, an early adopter of the tone of most of the remaining publicity for Times Square, shifting its focus as hard as it can from the movie overall to Robin herself. “She is a find of the first order!”

The neon nerve centre of young New York, tuned to a furious rock beat—amps up, full power on, with all-night disc jockey Johnny (Tim Curry) perched in his skyscraper studio waiting for the moment.

TIMES SQUARE
AN APPRAISAL BY TERRY O BRIEN

Like the music which accompanies it on a pulsating soundtrack of rock, Times Square is a story of the streets. It’s about rebellion on a small scale, a search for some kind of basic freedom and a need to live life rather than simply exist. By setting the story in Times Square (surely the definitive microcosm of all that is good and bad in pre-packaged urban society), there’s a perfect, ready-made background of excitement, urgency and even danger that is inherent in that milieu. Surviving day to day in this environment is Nicky Marotta (Robin Johnson) a free spirit with aspirations of becoming a rock star. Her very wayward, uncompromising manner lands her in a psychiatric hospital for tests. While there, she meets Pamela Pearl (Trini Alvarado), a shy girl whose personality, unlike Nicky’s, has been submerged by her environment. She is, in fact, at quite the opposite end of the spectrum to Nicky. Moreover, Pamela’s father is a politician who has promised to clean up the seedier side of Times Square. The two girls escape from the hospital and, in their own way, take on the establishment with acts that supposedly symbolise their rejection of the plastic culture. Their exploits are covered and encouraged by Johnny LaGuardia (Tim Curry), a disc-jockey who turns the couple into celebrities with a following which allows Nicky, ultimately, a brief moment of fame as a rock singer. Another aspect of the story is the effect that each of the girls has on the other. Nicky’s life-style allows Pamela to experiment with her own and to break out of her protective shell. (It’s interesting that once she has had her freedom she decides to return to her father, though, one suspects, on her own terms.) Conversely, the poetic and sensitive Pamela brings about a change in Nicky who finds she has her first real friend and, subsequently, a basis for believing in herself. Robin Johnson, in her movie debut, is a sensation. Her Nicky is vibrant, exciting and fragile—and one of the most interesting movie characters in years. She is a find of the first order! Trini Alvarado is her perfect foil and willing pupil. Tim Curry’s eccentric exploitive disc-jockey is a far cry from his Frank N’ Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but is, again, a fascinating performance. The movie’s feeling of rebellion and non-acceptance of some of society’s values is reflected in the music—a constant background of rock by some of today’s more prominent performers. James A. Contner’s cameras have caught some spectacular shots of New York, especially from atop the building from which Johnny broadcasts. Times Square is a showcase for some new and little-seen talent.

Producers: Robert Stigwood
Jacob Brackman
Director: Allan Moyle

The real treasures here are the accompanying photographs. Within an assortment of publicity stills we’ve seen before are two more behind-the-scenes shots, one of Trini, Tim, and Robin on Pier 56 on the Hudson River, and one of Robin and Trini during the shooting of the concert in Times Square. The three-shot must come from the same break in shooting that produced the top photo on page 22 of Film Review, Vol. 31 No. 1, and the black and white photo in the UK Press Kit, and which I’ve noted before are among the very few photos from Times Square with the actors in costume smiling directly at the camera.

The shot of Robin and Trini probably was taken within moments of the slide of Robin in Aggie Doon makeup on 42nd Street; Nicky is only on that street in the makeup after she jumps from the marquee, and Pammy is never down there with her. This photo was taken either before, during a break in, or after filming.

The other photos are UK lobby cards (or suspected lobby cards), except the Yoram Kahana photograph from the session that also produced the shot that became half of the movie poster and soundtrack album cover, and the slide of Aggie Doon debuting Damn Dog, which I think is seeing its first publication here.

TIMES SQUARE movie advertisement from Movie 81 No. 2, February 1981, p. 47

 

 

 

 

And that’s not all! On page 47, we find an ad featuring for the first time the English South Pacific movie poster. The collaged artwork featuring a Mick Rock photo previously appeared in a production promotional ad in Screen International in June of 1980. Here we see the debut of the new tag line, “… is the music of the streets!” which still doesn’t exactly make sense, but is a step up from England’s “Go sleaze!”

 

 

 

 

 

But wait, there’s more! As a bonus, on pages 59, our friend Terry O’Brien gives the soundtrack a glowing review.

Soundtrack
TERRY O’BRIEN CHECKS OUT THE MOVIE MUSIC SCENE
TIMES SQUARE
Another double-album from the RSO stable and thus packaged for sure-fire entertainment. “Times Square” is “the music of the streets” and features some of the more familiar names of the New Wave. Suzi Quatro gets the set off with a blast on her “Rock Hard”—a gutsy number which happens to be the favourite of the film’s two young female leads played by Robin Johnson and Trini Alvarado. Second up is The Pretenders’ “Talk of the Town” followed by a great Roxy Music number, “Same Old Scene”. The Bowie influence is much in evidence in Gary Numan’s haunting “Down in the Park”, and “Help Me!” has a good commercial sound from Marcy Levy and Robin Gibb. Other standouts are Lou Reed’s classic “Walk on the Wild Side” and a revival of “You Can’t Hurry Love” by D. L. Byron. You’ll also find some good rock from Talking Heads, Joe Jackson, XTC, The Ramones, The Ruts, Desmond Child & Rouge, Garland Jeffreys, The Cure and Patti Smith Group. Robin Johnson and Trini Alvarado themselves are also featured on “Your Daughter is One” a nose-thumbing raspberry to society and “Damn Dog”, a solo by Johnson. A good collection.
TIMES SQUARE-RSO Records

 

 


Movie 81, No. 2, February 1981 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389) ; 27.2 x 20 cm.; (contains:)
John Fraser, Editorial (editorial, AAT ID: 300026284), p. 3
Times Square : an appraisal by Terry O’Brien (review (document), AAT ID: 300026480), pp. 14-15
[Times Square is the music of the streets], (advertisement, AAT ID: 300193993), p. 47
Soundtrack : Terry O’Brien checks out the movie music scene : Times Square (review (document), AAT ID: 300026480), pp. 58-59 (work)
1981-02 Movie 81 No 2 cover_1080px.jpg
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©1981 Modern Magazines (Holdings) Ltd.


 

 

UK Promo Photo #29

Posted on 20th June 2017 in "Times Square"
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"29. In a distressed condition, Nicky (ROBIN JOHNSON) tries to tell her story in the radio station. A scene from "TIMES SQUARE" distributed by COLUMBIA/EMI/WARNER Film Distributors."

“29. In a distressed condition, Nicky (ROBIN JOHNSON) tries to tell her story in the radio station. A scene from “TIMES SQUARE” distributed by COLUMBIA/EMI/WARNER Film Distributors.”

The promotional stills for Times Square in the UK generally had a few things in common. They were full-bleed, with no white border like their US counterparts. When they did have a border, it was even all the way around, where the American ones often had a large area at the bottom with the name of the film and the distributor (and in some cases, a caption). And, where the US stills had a complicated number written near their bottom edge (in the style of “TS-72-8A/14”), the UK ones had a tiny one- or two-digit number written on what looked like a small pasted-in square. Most of them also had “TIMES SQUARE” stamped on the back; this one doesn’t.

features a pasted-on paper strip describing the image on the front: "29. In a distressed condition, Nicky (ROBIN JOHNSON) tries to tell her story in the radio station. A scene from "TIMES SQUARE" distributed by COLUMBIA/EMI/WARNER Film Distributors."This one also doesn’t have the number anywhere on its front — I’ve checked with varying levels of darkness and contrast, and it’s not just hard to see, it isn’t there — but it does have a piece of paper pasted to its back with the number and a caption. The number is also handwritten in blue ink, and there’s a little blue scribble on the front — I don’t know whether that’s part of its original condition or if it was added later.

The UK Press Kit contained photos 1 – 11, although the eleven photos in my copy are almost certainly not all the ones originally issued with it. The highest numbered shot from this series I’ve yet found is 36, the widely distributed head shot of Robin as Nicky used on the American movie poster and the soundtrack album cover.

This particular photo was also half of a two-photo 8×10, also used for promotion in the UK. This one had a slightly longer caption, and included a credit for Robert Stigwood that misspelled his name “Stigward.” I’ve found two of these 2-on-1’s so far, and finding this item leads me to suspect, or at least hope, that the other three images used on them will also one day turn up as 8x10s.

Judging by the angle, this was taken shortly before the picture on the UK lobby card. The shooting schedule was so short that it must have been the same day as the take that appeared in the film, but the publicity shots are all from either run-throughs or alternate takes, or were staged expressly for the publicity stills.

 

 

Times Square publicity still 29
black-and-white photograph, AAT ID: 300128347
UK ; 20.3 x 25.4 cm. (work)
1981 UK promo photo 29_manual_color_1080px.jpg
864 px (H) x 1080 px (W), 96 dpi, 412 kb (image)

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

Films Illustrated, Vol. 10 No. 113, February 1981

Posted on 9th June 2017 in "Times Square"
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“If the story sounds as though it makes sense, it doesn’t…”

Cover of Films Illustrated, Vol. 10 No. 113, February 1981

 

 

This was dated February but was probably on the stands while Times Square was still in theaters. EMI certainly expected it to be so, judging by the advertisement that appeared on page 162.

Half-page ad for "Times Square"

 

It’s almost identical to the ad that ran in Record Mirror, probably at the same time.

Page 177 contained a review of the movie by David Quinlan, accompanied by one of the photos Mick Rock doesn’t really remember taking of Robin. Mr. Quinlan’s review is typically fair for the time: it’s a bad movie that nevertheless has something genuinely affecting in it, rooted in “the gutsy performances of the girls themselves,” particularly Trini, bless his heart.

A photo of Robin Johnson as Nicky taken by Mick Rock accompanies the review.  Text:  TIMES SQUARE (X). Despite a silly story that never begins to hang together, Times Square gets by on youthful raw energy, another pre-sold LP background score of new wave music, and the inter-relationship between its two young female stars, gravel-voiced Robin Johnson as the backstreets fifteen year-old and especially thirteen year-old Trini Alvarado, who gives a warm and understanding performance as the repressed daughter of an eager-beaver young politician. Committed for hospital observation under very different circumstances, the girls run away together and form a duo against society, calling themselves The Sleez Sisters. With the help of an independent-minded DJ (overplayed by Tim Curry), they become cult figures and, for a brief while, a national news item. If the story sounds as though it makes sense, it doesn’t in the actual relation of events on screen, which are pure fantasy (with treatment to match) and have no basis in real life, apart from the gutsy performances of the girls themselves, which at times make one care more than was probably the script’s intention. The music is a knock-out, and the end may find you groping furtively and reluctantly for a handkerchief. — D.Q. (Prod/Robert Stigwood, Jacob Brackman. Scr/Jacob Brackman. Dir/Alan Moyle. Ph/James A Contner. Technicolor. Ill mins. EMI. US 1980)

TIMES SQUARE (X). Despite a silly story that never begins to hang together, Times Square gets by on youthful raw energy, another pre-sold LP background score of new wave music, and the inter-relationship between its two young female stars, gravel-voiced Robin Johnson as the backstreets fifteen year-old and especially thirteen year-old Trini Alvarado, who gives a warm and understanding performance as the repressed daughter of an eager-beaver young politician. Committed for hospital observation under very different circumstances, the girls run away together and form a duo against society, calling themselves The Sleez Sisters. With the help of an independent-minded DJ (overplayed by Tim Curry), they become cult figures and, for a brief while, a national news item. If the story sounds as though it makes sense, it doesn’t in the actual relation of events on screen, which are pure fantasy (with treatment to match) and have no basis in real life, apart from the gutsy performances of the girls themselves, which at times make one care more than was probably the script’s intention. The music is a knock-out, and the end may find you groping furtively and reluctantly for a handkerchief. — D.Q. (Prod/Robert Stigwood, Jacob Brackman. Scr/Jacob Brackman. Dir/Alan Moyle. Ph/James A Contner. Technicolor. Ill mins. EMI. US 1980)

Chart of reviews of newly opened movies; "Times Square" has one 3-star and one 1-star review

 

 

On page 178, we find that Mr. Quinlan gave Times Square 3 stars, and his colleague Rosemary Stirling gave it only one. Perhaps we should be glad she didn’t write the review the magazine printed. Perhaps it would have been interesting to see what she might have had to say about it.

 

 

 


Films Illustrated, Vol 10 No. 113, February 1981 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389) ; 29.7 x 20.9 cm; (contains:)
[Times Square movie advertisement], (advertisement, AAT ID: 300193993), p. 113
David Quinlan, “Times Square” (review (document), AAT ID: 300026480), p.177
[Review grid] (review (document), AAT ID: 300026480), p.178 (work)

 

1981-02 Films Illustrated Vol 10 No 113 p161_layers_1080px.jpg
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©1981 Illustrated Publications Limited

 

 

Robin steppin’ out in London, January 1981

Posted on 29th May 2017 in "Times Square"
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Black and white 8x6 photo of Robin Johnson during her "Times Square" promotional tour of England.  Inscription [on back]:  Robin JOHNSON, actress Ref: 91931 Jan '81  MONITOR Monitor Press Features Limited 17-27 Old Street, London EC1 Telephone 01-253 7071/6281 Telex 24718  A MONITOR GROUP COMPANY

 

Robin doesn’t remember exactly where this photo was taken, but it was during her publicity tour of the UK for Times Square, and probably in London. She also doesn’t think much of it as a photograph, but I think there’s something enchanting and 1940s-glamorous about it.

 

It was taken by an unknown staff photographer, or perhaps an enterprising paparazzo, for (or, and sold to) Monitor Press Features Ltd., for publication in whatever film magazine they could sell it to. But, I don’t believe it ever ran anywhere. This may be the first time it’s ever been seen publicly (except for in the auction I found it on).

Inscription:  Robin JOHNSON, actress Ref: 91931 Jan '81  MONITOR Monitor Press Features Limited 17-27 Old Street, London EC1 Telephone 01-253 7071/6281 Telex 24718  A MONITOR GROUP COMPANY

 

 

Typed on the back is

Robin JOHNSON,
actress
Ref: 91931
Jan ’81

and a stamp bearing the then-current address, and phone and telex numbers for Monitor Press Features.

(P.S. – Happy birthday, Robin!)

 

 

“Robin JOHNSON, actress”
black-and-white photograph : AAT ID: 300128347 : 6 x 8 in. : London, Monitor Press Features Limited, January 1981 (work);
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Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

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Screen International No. 276, January 24-31, 1981

Posted on 18th May 2017 in "Times Square"
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Page 1 (cover)  Issue contains mention of "Times Square" in article on musicals in center spread, and article on Robin Johnson in London on page 23.  The list of "London's Top Ten" indicates "Times Square" opened as the 7th highest-grossing film in London that week:  London’s Top Ten 1	(1) Flash Gordon (Col-EMI-War) ABC 1 Shaftesbury Avenue, ABC 2 Bayswater, ABC 4 Edgware Road, ABC 1 Fulham Road, Classic 1 Haymarket, Studio 4 £24,179 2	(4) Caligula (GTO) Prince Charles	£17,405 3	(2) The Dogs Of War (UA) Odeon Leicester Square £16,628 4	(3) Airplane! (CIC) Plaza 2, Classic 5 Oxford Street, ABC 3 Edgware Road, ABC 4 Fulham Road	£15,071 5	(—) Tribute (20th Fox) Leicester Square Theatre	£14,789 6	(6) Hopscotch (Rank) Plaza 1, Classic 3 Oxford Street, Odeon 2 Kensington	£13,374 7	(—) Times Square (Col-EMI-War) ABC 2 Shaftesbury Avenue, ABC 1 Bayswater, ABC 1 Edgware Road, ABC 2 Fulham Road, Scene 2, Studio 2	£12,791 8	(8) The Stunt Man (20th Fox) Classic 2 Chelsea, Classic 2 Haymarket, Classic 2 Oxford Street	£10,546 9	(7) Stardust Memories (UA) Classic 1 Oxford Street, Cinecenta 2, Cinecenta 3	£10,259 10	(5) Any Which Way You Can (Col-EMI-War) Warner 2, Classic 4 Oxford Street, ABC 3 Fulham Road	£9,526

 

 

The number one film in mid-January 1981 London was, unsurprisingly, Flash Gordon, which had already been open for six weeks to Times Square’s one. Times Square debuted at number seven and was falling fast, but its “tepid” performance hadn’t yet doomed it to closure when this issue of Screen International came out.

 

The box office totals for the previous week. Relevant text: Page 2—Screen International Saturday 24th January 1981 LONDON BOX OFFICE By Chris Brown IT WAS once again a week when cinema-goers stuck to the tried and true rather than paying to see new releases in the West End. Two films came into the Top Ten this week, Tribute and Times Square, but neither showed much sparkle. “Tribute” netted a uninspiring £14,789 at the Leicester Square Theatre, with “Times Square” doing very tepid business at its six screens.


     

The film still merited a mention in the issue’s big article on the use of pop music in motion pictures, wherein we’re informed that The Clash refused to sully themselves by letting their art be exploited for Hollywood’s bourgeois commercial gain by allowing one of their songs to be used in Times Square. The issues and ironies involving the concept of exploitation in Times Square, both within the film itself and as a (failed) commercial property, deserve an essay to themselves, which you’re not going to get from me anytime soon, sorry.

 

 

But the best thing about this issue of Screen International is page 23, which is covered in photos of Robin schmoozing with British film critics. The film hadn’t completely tanked, but as we’ve seen previously RSO had already realized that the one thing the movie had going for it (aside from the soundtrack) was Robin, so they sent her overseas to promote it.

Screen International No 276, January 24, 1981, p. 23.  The photo-illustrated article on Robin Johnson's trip to London appears to be an advertisement.  Text:  Saturday 24th January 1981 Screen International —Page 23 • Robin Johnson gets her first sight of London from Tower Bridge. • David Land (co-deputy chairman, Robert Stigwood Group) with Robin Johnson. • Molly Plowright (“Glasgow Herald") and Robin Johnson. • Glenys Roberts (freelance), John Coleman (“New Statesman") and Robin Johnson. Robin: a new star in ‘Times Square’ ROBIN JOHNSON, the screen's latest teenage sensation, arrived in Britain last week to publicise the London opening of EMI's "Times Square" in which she plays a rebellious girl who lives off her wits on the harsh New York streets. Robin, accompanied by her mother, Ida, and representatives of The Robert Stigwood Group, the film's producers, attended a special luncheon where she met and charmed the national critics as well as taking part in interviews for radio and TV. After a weekend of sightseeing the party left London for a promotional tour to attend special preview screenings, followed by more interviews, in Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Newcastle and Leeds. Her abrasive performance in the film, which also stars Trim Alvarado and Tim Curry, has earned Robin acclaim from the critics, "The New Standard" describing her as "a real discovery". "Times Square" is released in the UK by Columbia-EMI-Warner Distributors. Photos: PIC • Denise Silvester-Carr ("London Weekly Diary") and Rod Gunnar (managing director, Robert Stigwood Group). • Margaret Hinxman ("Daily Mail") and Robin Johnson. • Kenelm Jenour ("Hollywood Reporter"), Robin Johnson and Bill Hall (freelance). Advt.

Robin: a new star in Times Square’

ROBIN JOHNSON, the screen’s latest teenage sensation, arrived in Britain last week to publicise the London opening of EMI’s “Times Square” in which she plays a rebellious girl who lives off her wits on the harsh New York streets.

Robin, accompanied by her mother, Ida, and representatives of The Robert Stigwood Group, the film’s producers, attended a special luncheon where she met and charmed the national critics as well as taking part in interviews for radio and TV.

After a weekend of sightseeing the party left London for a promotional tour to attend special preview screenings, followed by more interviews, in Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Newcastle and Leeds.

Her abrasive performance in the film, which also stars Trini Alvarado and Tim Curry, has earned Robin acclaim from the critics, “The New Standard” describing her as “a real discovery”.

“Times Square” is released in the UK by Columbia-EMI-Warner Distributors. Photos: PIC

As I’ve mentioned before, Times Square came out at the dawn of the home video recording revolution. As far as I know, none of the radio and television appearances mentioned in the article have survived. If you have a recording of any of them PLEASE let me know.)

This previous post occurred well after this, that interview taking place at the end of her promotional tour, but this page is more impressive what with all the photos of Robin. Unfortunately the newspaper-style printing leaves a lot to be desired, and reproducing them on a computer screen only highlights their limitations.

The first photo accompanying the article/ advertisement 'Robin: a new star in "Times Square"' from Screen International No 276, January 24, 1981, p. 23.  Text:   Robin Johnson gets her first sight of London from Tower Bridge.

And finally, returning to the theme of exploitation, the very bottom of the page carries the abbreviation “Advt.” It’s not a real article at all, but an ad placed by RSO, selling Robin. Odds are this was and probably still is a common practice, but it’s still another layer of exploitation, and irony, considering how RSO handled the next stage of her career. But we’re not there yet…

 

 


Screen International, No. 276, January 24-31, 1981 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389) ; 38 x 29 cm; (contains:)
Chris Brown, “London box office: Old, familiar favorites” (article, AAT ID: 300048715) ; p.2
Nick Robertshaw, “Record companies – is the time ripe for pop with pictures?” (article, AAT ID: 300048715) ; pp. 16-17
“Robin: a new star in ‘Times Square'” (advertisement, AAT ID: 300193993) ; PIC, photography ; p. 23 (works)

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Times Square Press Synopsis and Credits

Posted on 7th May 2017 in "Times Square"
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This was sold as a “Press Kit,” but it’s just the one sheet of A4-size paper with a very complete synopsis of the film on one side and the full cast and credits on the other. It was definitely used for publicity purposes in the UK, but the logo on it is the one that was used in the British advertisements and movie posters. The actual UK Press Kit documents used the American logo. This must have been made and distributed later than the Press Kit.

There was no synopsis in the UK Press Kit, at least not in my copy. There was one in the US Press Kit, and it’s significantly different. Where most of the contents of the UK Press Kit are taken almost directly from the US versions, this synopsis is almost certainly the work of a different synopsizer. Most strangely, although the logo implies it was produced later, some of the details in it make it seem that whoever wrote it was working not from the film but from an earlier version of the screenplay, or at least an earlier cut of the film. For instance, this page has Nicky pulling a switchblade on the police who come to arrest her outside the disco. The May 1979 script has her attacking the “roadies” from the club with a switchblade. There is no switchblade in the movie, or in the US Press Kit synopsis. It also mentions the famously-removed sequence by/in the Hudson River, although it describes them becoming “blood sisters” during it while in the May 1979 screenplay that happens on the pier, like it does in the movie.

TIMES SQUARE

SYNOPSIS

(Not for Publication)

42nd Street is one of New York’s busiest – it leads to Times Square, the centre of the city’s nightlife and filled with colourful characters. Winos, pimps, prostitutes and junkies rub their sordid shoulders with the thousands of tourists and sightseers out funseeking to catch the infectious atmosphere of the heart of “the Big Apple”.

Noisily trundling a shopping cart, filled with her guitar, amplifier and battery, along 42nd Street is 16-year-old Nicky Marotta (ROBIN JOHNSON), a girl who has lived most of her life on these rough and lively streets.

Outside a disco she plugs in her guitar and begins to play her own music against the thumping beat from within. When a hostess from the disco calls the police, they arrive to be faced with a stream of four-letter words and Nicky’s switchblade.

On the other side of town in a posh East Side apartment Pamela Pearl (TRINI ALVARDO) sits alone, tuned in to the mellow words and music of all-night disc jockey Johnny LaGuardia (TIM CURRY).

Now in custody and recognised as a habitual offender, Nicky is in the charge of Rosie (ANNA MARIA HORSFORD), a concerned social worker who tells her that she is to be taken to hospital to see if there is any psychological reason for her anti-social behaviour.

The next day Pamela’s father, David Pearl (PETER COFFIELD), a widower and rising politician, takes Pamela to a public meeting where he is to outline his newest assignment – as the Mayor’s Commissioner to clean up Times Square. His dedication to his career and lack of attention to his introverted young daughter have made him unable to recognise her loneliness and mental anguish. When she finds herself on the meeting platform beside her father she is mortified with embarrassment and when David refers to her in his speech, she bolts for the ladies’ rest room in tears.

"Times Square" Screenplay by Jacob Brackman, 1979, p. 48  Text:  47  EXT THE HUDSON RIVERSIDE	AFTERNOON  MUSIC. NICKY has’already spray painted out the Hopkins Center markings on the ambulance. She has also  sprayed slogans from her songs all over the van.  NICKY has sprayed. "Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah . . down the side of the van, over the ground and now up  PAMELA'S leg.  They wrestle for the can. PAMELA escapes an armlock and presses NICKY into a full Nelson against the van.  NICKY is surprised and impressed.  EXT POLICE HEADQUARTERS, MANHATTAN	DUSK  MUSIC. City of New York limousines and Hopkins Center vehicles are parked at the entrance. ROSIE HAUSE arrives in a cab.  EXT THE HUDSON RIVERSIDE 	DUSK  MUSIC. NICKY kneels before a hubcap full of thick, red goo she has mixed. PAMELA watches, fascinated.  NICKY cups the stuff in her palms and smooths it into her own hair. It is henna, a primitive hair dye.  Next, she rubs an equal amount into PAMELA'S hair, sensually at first. Their mood turns playful. They  plaster each other with henna and quickly look like gargoyles.  EXT THE ALLIED CHEMICAL BUILDING	EVENING  MUSIC. On the roof, next to the neon WJAD logo, JOHNNY, alone, scans his domain with a high powered  telescope on a tripod.Anxious for a speedy solution to the inconvenience of having a sick daughter, Pearl agrees to his doctor’s recommendation that she should undergo tests at the hospital to see if there are psychological reasons for her strange behaviour.

Thus Nicky and Pamela meet… as room-mates at the hospital. Nicky’s antics and irreverent behaviour towards the hospital staff shock Pamela at first, but later she begins to be amused and, after a night-time conversation in which Nicky convinces Pamela that there is nothing wrong with either of them, they leave their room together and, stealing a hospital ambulance, escape to a derelict pier where they set up a makeshift home. At the water’s edge they henna their hair, become “blood sisters” and determine to make the city sit up and take notice of them.

Johnny LaGuardia reads the newspaper accounts of the pair’s disappearance and believes Pamela is the girl who wrote to him a few days ago describing her loneliness and fears. He speaks to the runaways over the air, encouraging them in their bid to find their own brand of freedom.

As the days pass Nicky and Pamela engage in a variety of fruitless occupations to make ends meet, narrowly escape recapture by an undercover policeman and finally find employment in a sleazy club on 42nd Street known as “Cleopatra’s Lounge”, Pamela as a go-go dancer and Nicky as a singer with the resident band, The Blondells.

In the meantime David Pearl continues his efforts to find his daughter and makes an enemy of Johnny LaGuardia who, he is convinced knows where Pamela, is and is hampering both his bid to find her and his campaign to clean up the city centre.

In their rejection of many of society’s social values, Pamela and Nicky adopt weird clothes – bits and pieces of sixties mini-skirts and plastic garbage bags and call themselves “The Sleaze Sisters”. They spray graffiti all over town and indulge in a highly individual rampage of destruction by spectacularly destroying dozens of what they regard as the worst social symbol of all.

With reports of their progress being fed out over the airwaves by LaGuardia, “The Sleaze Sisters”, and in particular Nicky who has written a song about herself in very down-to-earth terms, become cult heroines and they even broadcast Nicky’s music live from the radio station.

But events are conspiring to end their great adventure. Nicky insists they go down in a blaze of glory by staging an illegal midnight rock concert atop a cinema marquee.

An explosive climax builds as hundreds of teenage girls, dressed in “Sleaze Sisters” clothing and make-up, stream towards Times Square for the concert. Also making their way there are the police and Pamela’s father…

Running Time: 111 mins, approx.
Certificate ‘AA’

EMI
A Member of the THORN-EMI Group
Released by COLUMBIA-EMI-WARNER Distributors Ltd.

THE CAST

Johnny LaGuardia……….TIM CURRY
Pamela Pearl……….TRINI ALVARADO
Nicky Marotta……….ROBIN JOHNSON
David Pearl……….PETER COFFIELD
Dr. Huber……….HERBERT BERGHOF
Dr.Zymansky……….DAVID MARGULIES
Rosie Washington……….ANNA MARIA HORSFORD
JoJo……….MICHAEL MARGOTTA
Simon……….J.C. QUINN
Roberto……….MIGUEL PINERO
Heavy……….RONALD “SMOKEY” STEVENS
Blondell……….BILLY MERNIT
Blondell……….PAUL SASS
Blondell……….ARTI WEINSTEIN
Eastman……….TIM CHOATE
Disco Hostess……….ELIZABETH PENA
Nurse Joan……….KATHY LOJAC
Nurse May……….SUSAN MERSON
Don Dowd……….GEORGE MORFOGEN
Speaker……….CHARLES BLACKWELL
Stuntplayer……….BILL ANAGNOS
Stuntplayer……….TAMMAS J. HAMILTON
Stuntplayer……….FRANKLYN SCOTT
Stuntplayer……….JANE SOLAR
Stuntplayer……….VICTORIA VANDERKLOOT
Dude……….STEVE W. JAMES
Plainclothes Cop ……….JAY ACOVONE
Magda……….ALICE SPIVAK
George……….CALVIN ANDER
Plainclothes Cop……….PETER IACANGELO
Young D.J……….MICHAEL RINEY
Policeman 1 ……….LOUIS BELERO
Policeman 2……….GERALD KLINE
Hold-Up Man……….BEN SLACK
Beer Vendor……….AARON HURST
Beer Vendor……….SEAN HUST
Shop Owner……….PETER LOPICCOLO
T.V. Drop Kid……….ROGER CAMCAHO
T.V. Drop Kid……….STEVE PABON
Daughter……….DANIELLE TILETNICK
Daughter’s Friend……….DONNA SIROTA
Movie Theatre Reactor……….TULANE HOWARD II
Waitress……….KAREN EVANS
Cigarette Girl……….RODI ALEXANDER
Sleez Bag Vendor 1 ……….RAMON FRANCO
Sleez Bag Vendor 2……….RIKI COLON
Renaissance AKIDE……….MELANIE HENDERSON
Cop On Marquee……….LARRY SILVESTRI
Beer Buyers.. . . PAULA NAPLES, MANDY CAMERON
Intern……….SCOTT P. SANDERS
Andy……….TIGER HAYNES
Sleez Girls……….CAMMI LYNN BUTTNER
SARAH DOUGHERTY, AMY GABRIEL
SANDRA LEE GOGA, PAMELA GOTLIN
SHUNA LYDON, KELLY McCLORY
MARLENA SEDA

THE CREDITS

Produced by……….ROBERT STIGWOOD
JACOB BRACKMAN
Directed by……….ALAN MOYLE
Executive Producers……….KEVIN McCORMICK
JOHN NICOLELLA
Screenplay by……….JACOB BRACKMAN
Story by……….ALAN MOYLE and LEANNEUNGER
Associate Producer……….BILL OAKES
Director of Photography……….JAMES A. CONTNER
Edited by……….TOM PRIESTLEY
Casting……….BARBARA CLAMAN for BCI
Special Casting……….MARGIE SIMKIN
Extras Casting……….LOUIS Di GIAIMO
Production Manager……….JUDITH STEVENS
Assistant Director……….ALAN HOPKINS
2nd Assistant Director……….ROBERT WARREN

THE CREDITS (cont’d)

2nd Unit Directors……….EDWARD BIANCHI
JOHN NICOLELLA
Unit Manager……….LOU FUSARO
Location Manager……….RON STIGWOOD
Camera Operator……….ENRIQUE BRAVO
Assistant Cameraman ……….HANK MULLER
Script Supervisor……….SANDY McLEOD
Makeup Artist……….PETER WRONA, JR.
Hairstylist……….JUDI GOODMAN
Wardrobe Supervisor……….KAREN EIFERT
Stunt Coordinators……….JAMES LOVELETT
ALEX STEVENS
Titles Design……….DAN PERRI
Opticals by ……….MOVIE MAGIC
Filmed in PANAVISION and TECHNICOLOR
and DOLBY STEREO
On Locations in New York City

THE MUSIC

ROCK HARD……….Performed by SUZI QUATRO
Composed by MIKE CHAPMAN & NICKY CHINN
TALK OF THE TOWN Performed by THE PRETENDERS
Composed by CHRISSIE HYNDE
SAME OLD SCENE……….Performed by ROXY MUSIC
Composed by BRYAN FERRY
DANGEROUS TYPE……….Performed by THE CARS
Composed by RIC OCASEK
DOWN IN THE PARK……….
Performed & Composed by GARY NUMAN
HELP ME ! Performed by MARCY LEVY & ROBIN GIBB
Composed by ROBIN GIBB & BLUE WEAVER
LIFE DURING WARTIME……….
Performed by TALKING HEADS
Composed by DAVID BYRNE
PRETTY BOYS……….
Performed & Composed by JOE JACKSON
TAKE THIS TOWN……….Performed by XTC
Composed by ANDY PARTRIDGE
I WANNA BE SEDATED……….
Performed & Composed by The RAMONES
DAMN DOG……….Performed by ROBIN JOHNSON
Composed by BILLY MERNIT and JACOB BRACKMAN
YOUR DAUGHTER IS ONE ……….
Performed by ROBIN JOHNSON & TRINI ALVARADO
Composed by BILLY MERNIT, NORMAN ROSS & JACOB BRACKMAN
BABYLON’S BURNING……….Performed by THE RUTS
Composed by JOHN JENNINGS, DAVE RUFFY
MALCOLM OWEN, PAUL FOX
YOU CAN’T HURRY LOVE . Performed by D. L. BYRON
Composed by HOLLAND, DOZIER, HOLLAND
WALK ON THE WILD SIDE……….
Performed & Composed by LOU REED
THE NIGHT WAS NOT……….
Performed by DESMOND CHILD & ROUGE
Composed by DESMOND CHILD
INNOCENT, NOT GUILTY……….
Performed & Composed by GARLAND JEFFREYS
GRINDING HALT……….Performed by THE CURE
Composed by TOLHURST DEMPSEY SMITH
PISSING IN THE RIVER……….
Performed & Composed by PATTI SMITH
FLOWERS IN THE CITY……….
Performed by DAVID JOHANSEN
& ROBIN JOHNSON
Composed by DAVID JOHANSEN & RONNIE GUY
Additional Music by BLUE WEAVER
Special thanks to JIMMY IOVINE, JOHN PACE and
D. L .BYRON BAND (FOR “DAMN DOG”)

I would say that M.B. was using this synopsis to help his/her own description of the film in the review in the January 1981 Photoplay.

Here, for comparison, is the American synopsis from the US Press Material folder:

TIMES SQUARE

SYNOPSIS

New York City at night. Along 42nd Street in the heart of Times Square, Nicky Marotta (ROBIN JOHNSON) swings aimlessly, a loose and carefree teenager plugged into life and rock music, complete with guitar, and portable amp system. With sudden inspiration, Nicky leans on the alley wall of a disco and against the thumping music from within begins to play her own music, loud and strong. A woman opens the alley door of the disco, berates Nicky for the “noise” which can be heard within, and demands she remove her equipment from the hood of the owner’s parked car. Nicky defiantly responds by smashing the headlights of the car. The woman runs into the club for help.

David Pearl (PETER COFFIELD), a widower consumed with his career as a rising young politician, has lost touch with his daughter, Pamela (TRINI ALVARADO). Unable to see that she is troubled and lonely, he takes Pamela to his newest assignment as the Mayor’s commissioner to clean up Times Square and a speech presenting his “Times Square Renaissance” program. To her dismay, Pamela is seated with her father on the dais and, when her father uses Pamela as the subject of a false and embarrassing story, she is convulsed with mortification and runs to the ladies restroom.

Nicky’s disturbance at the disco brings the police and she is apprehended, then taken in custody to await court and medical decisions.

Pamela, meanwhile, is in her upper East Side high-rise apartment listening to the mellow words and rock music of late-night disc jockey Johnny LaGuardia (TIM CURRY) from his studio high atop a building overlooking Times Square. Pamela hears LaGuardia read a letter she has written to him, a missive of deep anguish and loneliness. On the air, he advises the anonymous letter writer, who signed it “Zombie Girl,” to believe that all people should be very special to themselves and to learn how to “fly.”

Anxious for a solution to his daughter’s apparent neuroticism, David Pearl agrees to his doctor’s recommendations that Pamela be admitted to a hospital for neurological testing to determine if there is an organic reason for her behavior. Pamela meets Nicky in a hospital room they share since both will be undergoing the same psychiatric and physical tests. Nicky has been sent by police officials for the tests, following the recent arrest, her fourth on record.

During the tests by Dr. Huber (HERBERT BERGHOF),Nicky takes charge, raucously and with vulgar answers to his queries, a brazen attitude that fascinates Pamela. Pamela awakens one morning to learn with some sadness that Nicky has been discharged from the medical tests.
Nicky, however, surreptitiously returns to the room and convinces Pamela to join her in a flight to freedom. Impetuously, they run out of the building and commandeer an ambulance for a wild careening drive through the back streets of New York.

Two teenagers, free of responsibility, free in the exciting city of New York, they roam through an abandoned pier in the old city harbor area, and devise a makeshift refuge for shelter. To survive, they engage in a variety of activities—stealing, scrounging for food and clothing. Nicky even fails at an attempted mugging, with Pamela as the decoy, and their try at a sidewalk three-card monte game, fails to hook any suckers. The con game does get them chased by a plain-clothes undercover cop. They escape from him after a harrowing chase through a porno theatre, across its stage, up to the rooftops of buildings, down alleys,and eventually, safety in the subway.

Their next try for income is successful when the owner of a sleazy nitery in Times Square, the Cleopatra Club, is intrigued enough by Pamela’s innocence and refusal to dance topless to hire her as a campy put-on for the amusement of his customers. Nicky also is hired to sing with a back-up group, The Blondells.

Johnny LaGuardia, meanwhile, reads the newspaper accounts and reports of the search for David Pearl’s runaway daughter, believed to be kidnapped by Nicky Marotta, a dangerous delinquent. He makes the connection that Pamela is, in fact, his anonymous, troubled correspondent and on the air begins to encourage the two rebels, urging them to remain free. The publicity turns Pam and Nicky into minor media celebrities with legions of teenage girls their fans.

Nearby, David Pearl is torn between the anxiety over his daughter and his campaign to rehabilitate Times Square. Social worker Rosie Washington (ANNA MARIA HORSFORD), a dedicated civil servant, tries to persuade Pearl that Pamela’s company with Nicky Marotta is not a serious escapade, that Nicky is troubled but not beyond help. Rosie gets a letter filled with understanding to Nicky to ensure Pamela’s eventual and safe return. Pamela also calls her father to assure him she’s alright, and that Nicky needs her.

In their rejection of many of the values of the culture, the girls adopt “bag lady” wardrobes, bits and pieces of the ’60s miniskirts, plastic garbage bags as blouses. And they become “Sleaze Sisters,” when they see their fans’ spray-painted graffiti on a street bus panel advertising Pamela’s disappearance. In their jobs at the Cleo Club, Pamela becomes a favorite attraction, although fully dressed, because of her wild uninhibited gyrations and frenzied dance routines. Nicky also wows the customers with the rock rendition of her own composition, “Damn Dog,” backed up by The Blondells.

Nicky and Pamela then begin a series of exciting but dangerous escapades—dropping television sets from the tops of building to crash amongst unsuspecting pedestrians below. Pamela, now frightened by the behavior, begins to waver in her allegiance and friendship to Nicky. During an interlude in their dangerous pastime, the girls induce Johnny LaGuardia to let them sing on the air for his listeners. LaGuardia’s irresponsibility to the girls’ rebellion and his continuing on-air comments urging them to do their own thing, incenses David Pearl, who storms into LaGuardia’s studio, threatens him and attempts to assault him. To assuage Pearl’s anger, a LaGuardia staff member blurts out that Pamela can be found at the Cleo Club. At the club, Pamela rejects her father’s pleas to return and runs out into the night.

Later, after Pamela and Nicky have their first real disagreement over their lifestyle and “go down flaming,” Nicky leaves in anger. Pamela calls LaGuardia who comes to her with a gift bottle of vodka. The two are conversing warmly, stretched out on Pam’s and Nicky’s bed, when Nicky returns, slightly drunk. Enraged at LaGuardia, Nicky begins to hurl objects at him and Pamela and they rush out. Nicky then burns all the mementos of the time with Pamela and, later, bursts into Johnny’s studio demanding that she be allowed to sing on the air. Into a dead microphone, Nicky sobs an incoherent babble of pain, accompanied by her guitar strumming. Then, out of control, Nicky is carried out of the studio, emotionally spent.

LaGuardia seeks out Pamela and brings her to a sleeping Nicky, now composed. Pamela tells Nicky that she will arrange for Nicky to fulfill a lifelong dream—a live rock concert to be held in Times Square. In her father’s office after hours, Pamela makes phone calls to every major radio outlet in the New York area, informing them of the impending rock concert in Times Square. Within days, every Sleaze Sister fan of Pam and Nicky has been told by radio of the big event.

All over New York City, teenage girls dress in their Sleez (sic) costumes and garish make-up and converge on Times Square. In their midst are David Pearl, who believes this is the night he will recover his daughter, and the concerned social worker, Rosie Washington, who also has faith in another recovery that night—of Nicky Marotta.

With the huge crowd teeming on the streets of Times Square, Nicky Marotta makes her entrance for the hundreds of fans—atop the marquee of the Times Square movie house. With her are Pamela, in the shadows behind Nicky, and Nicky’s back-up group, The Blondells. Nicky introduces her concert with some well-chosen words on revolt, rebellion and resistance to authority, then breaks into an inspired rendition of her “Damn Dog.” As cheers and applause fill Times Square, a number of policeman move in toward Nicky. She threatens to jump if they close in before her concert is concluded. A few more remarks, a song reprise… and Nicky leaps into the crowd below….

Johnny LaGuardia, who has been viewing the activity in Times Square through a high-powered telescope, and has reported to his listeners, reflects that he had once advised a lonely Pamela Pearl, then his anonymous letter writer, to conquer her fears and “fly.”

 

 

Times Square Synopsis (press kit, AAT ID: 300236195)
2 pp., 29.7 x 22 cm. (work);
Times Square UK Press Info sheet front_1080px.jpg
1080 px (H) x 769 px (W), 96 dpi, 382 kb
Times Square UK Press Info sheet rear_1080px.jpg
1080 px (H) x 757 px (W), 96 dpi, 436 kb

 

Times Square Synopsis, from the Times Square Press material folder (press kit, AAT ID: 300236195)
5 pp, 8.5 x 11 in. (work);
TIMES SQUARE Press Kit0002_synopsis_1_1080px.jpg
1080 px (H) x 836 px (W), 96 dpi, 269 kb
TIMES SQUARE Press Kit0003_synopsis_2_1080px.jpg
1080 px (H) x 836 px (W), 96 dpi, 272 kb
TIMES SQUARE Press Kit0004_synopsis_3_1080px.jpg
1080 px (H) x 835 px (W), 96 dpi, 269 kb
TIMES SQUARE Press Kit0005_synopsis_4_1080px.jpg
1080 px (H) x 837 px (W), 96 dpi, 276 kb
TIMES SQUARE Press Kit0006_synopsis_5_1080px.jpg
1080 px (H) x 836 px (W), 96 dpi, 188 kb

 

TIMES SQUARE, p. 47
Screenplay by Jacob Brackman
1979

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

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