Pammy and Nicky Escape (again)

Posted on 22nd November 2014 in "Times Square"
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Pammy and Nicky, running from a cop, burst out onto the street in this production photo replicating, but not duplicating, a shot from "Times Square" (1980).
 
Another 8×10 color print marked as Kodak paper from the 1970s-80s on the back. Normally when printing an 8×10 the image would be enlarged to fill the 8-inch dimension, cropping out about 2 inches of the longer dimension, but these photos are printed to show the entire exposure. I would say that was to emulate the aspect ratio of the movie, except that as we’ll see some of the photos were shot portrait style and not landscape.

This one has 9-34A written in dark marker on the back. Many of these photos have numbers in a similar format written on them, and most if not all the distributed publicity stills have numbers like that printed on them, so I’m assuming it’s an official designation from the production, although what exactly it means, I don’t know. If you know, please, tell me!

A frame from "Times Square" (1980)

If you’re familiar with Times Square, you know this shot instantly. Except, as I’ve been pointing out, it isn’t. The shot in the film is framed differently — the still camera is a few feet to the right of the movie camera — and the girls are never quite in those positions relative to the door opening. This is the closest frame I can find. Comparing the two, my completely unsubstantiated guess is that the photo was shot during a rehearsal or an early take, and the shot used in the film came after Trini and Robin were given the direction to be a little more wild and really fling themselves out of the door. They look rather calm in the photograph.

So the next question is, where are they? You know what, why don’t I take this opportunity to try retrace their steps for the entire sequence?

Nicky and Pammy try the 3-card monte hustle - frame grab from "Times Square" (1980)Nicky and Pammy try the 3-card monte hustle - frame grab from "Times Square" (1980)
 

The three-card monte game is on the west side of Broadway just south of 47th Street. In several shots, we can see the Castro Convertibles showroom on the ground floor of 2 Times Square, and the 47th St. street sign, so this part is unquestionably one of the few sequences that actually takes place within the Square and not on the Deuce.

Nicky and Pammy run from a plainclothes detective - frame grab from "Times Square" (1980)

When the cop identifies himself, the girls take off north and sprint left around the corner, so they’re now on the south side of 47th headed west towards 8th Avenue.

Nicky and Pammy run from a plainclothes detective - frame grab from "Times Square" (1980)
Now things get a little fuzzy. There are two problems with identifying locations here: the first is that the camera is moving so fast most potentially identifiable objects are blurred, and the second is that not only have all the businesses changed in the last 34 years, but many buildings in the area have been razed to the sub-basement level and entirely new structures now stand in their places. So with that in mind… they come around another corner, turn left again and cross the street. Assuming they were still on 47th, they’re now heading south. But, the next block west of Broadway is 8th Avenue which runs north, and they’re running with the traffic, not against it. They must have run two blocks on 47th, turned onto 9th Ave., and are now headed towards 46th Street. (It doesn’t look like either avenue to me, though.)

On the other hand… perhaps instead of jumping into the future the amount of time it would have taken them to run the length of the block, we’ve jumped back in time about five seconds, and this is the girls coming around the corner we just saw them disappear behind. That would put them back on 47th headed for 8th. Yeah, let’s go with that.
 

Nicky and Pammy run from a plainclothes detective - frame grab from "Times Square" (1980)
 
Still running in the direction of the traffic, on the right side of what I’m still assuming is 47th street, and there’s a sign behind them that sure looks like it says “Seventh Ave.” That would be a ways behind them, on the other side of Broadway, so it makes sense that we’re now looking east on 47th.

Nicky and Pammy run from a plainclothes detective - frame grab from "Times Square" (1980)
 
Still running with the traffic, but now on the left side of the street, with a police car in pursuit as well as the plainclothes cop. And we know they’re about to run into the Adonis Theater, so they’re on 8th Avenue and in this frame about to cross 50th Street, headed north. One street block and three avenue blocks have been edited out, but after all “Innocent, Not Guilty” is only two minutes and 18 seconds long.
Nicky and Pammy run from a plainclothes detective - frame grab from "Times Square" (1980)
 

And things get a little weird again: they run through the theater, up into the balcony, manage to get up to the roof, climb down a fire escape that looks like it’s on an outside wall, then down one on an inside-of-the-block wall from the roof of a different building than the one the cop who was directly behind them is on (whew), and then we’re back at the top of this post as they burst out of the big doors back onto the street.

Nicky and Pammy run from a plainclothes detective - frame grab from "Times Square" (1980)Nicky and Pammy run from a plainclothes detective - frame grab from "Times Square" (1980)

And they’re almost exactly where they were in the last post! They go to the corner and down into the 8th Avenue subway, which puts them at the same intersection they ran past on their way to the theater. They’re now around the corner from where they were, on 50th Street with 8th Avenue behind them. Those are the gated windows of O’Brien’s Corner on the left, and we can see the tail end of one of the parked yellow cabs they’d run past a moment before. Luckily, the cops in the car that followed them to the theater seem to have lost interest in the chase, to be replaced by a guy in a beret staring directly into the camera.

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If I stop to think about it though, it doesn’t seem likely they’d be able to go into the third or fourth building on a block and find their way out a service entrance of an entirely different building around the corner. There must have been a lot of unlocked doors in their path, which would be ironic since the emergency fire exits from the theater itself were locked. This isn’t the only time we see people get in and out of a building through an entrance that’s geographically close but not actually attached to it. With any luck I’ll remember to tell you about the other one.

The sequence works, though. It feels right. It makes perfect sense if you don’t study it too closely; then you start to see things that could not possibly happen, except maybe in a dream. Which is also true of the film as a whole.

Map of Nicky and Pammy's escape route

 

9-34A (“Pammy and Nicky Escape Again”)
8 in (H) x 10 in (W) (work) [w/o border 6.5 in x 9.625 in];
867 px (H) x 1080 px (W), 96 dpi, 445 kb (image)

1979/1980
inscription: [on reverse:] [handwritten in black marker:] 9-34A
[stamped:] THIS PAPER / MANUFACTURED / BY KODAK

 
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853 px (W) x 480 px (H), 72 dpi (images)
screen captures from Times Square (1980)
captured 2014-11-08
 
Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

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