42nd & 6th

Posted on 6th November 2014 in "Times Square"

Nicky and Pammy walk the streets in this black and white print of a color publicity photo for "Times Square," which depicts a scene not actually in the film.

 

 

So: the girls are east of Times Square and headed for it. They’ve already traded clothes, and are on foot. In the film, this happens after they’ve been on the subway in those outfits, except they’re on their way to “the hideout” (as it’s called in the script). The hideout is described in the script as being a pier on the Hudson River near 42nd Street, but Pier 56 as it appears in the film is actually closer to 14th Street, and the walking we see in the film looks to have been shot there in the meatpacking district back when meat was actually packed there. We never see Nicky and Pammy walking through a populated city street in those outfits.

o-TIMES-900

 

Wait… they’ve just come out of the subway, on their way to the hideout, and are now walking to 14th Street? That doesn’t make any sense; why get off the train when they still have 30 blocks south to go? The thing is, this is maybe the second most heavily edited part of the film, the first being the sequence immediately before this one, where they cut and dye each other’s hair on the Jersey side of the river, which was eliminated entirely. The shot in the film on the subway doesn’t happen in the subway in the script, it happens on the street. These photos are the beginning of the scene which was almost totally removed, in which Nicky goes to her father for help.

"Times Square" Screenplay p. 49

All of these pictures which were ultimately only used for publicity purposes were originally shot from this page, in which the girls emerge from the subway and go to a Nedick’s, looking for someone who might know where Roger Marotta is, and then continue on their way. The scene in the film on the subway originally happened out on the street after Nicky realizes her dad won’t be able to help them find a place to stay. In the script, her saying to Pammy “We are going to do everything ourselves” is a direct reaction to her father’s inability to help. In the film, it’s a statement of general opposition to the world, and in my opinion, it may be less realistic, but it’s more powerful. Take that, original cinematic vision! The scene on the subway is all that remains of the sequence, and as I said, it wasn’t written as happening on the subway.

If you looked real closely, and I’m sure you did, you noticed that in this script Pammy christens them The Sleaze Sisters. (Nicky comes up with the phrase “Sleaze Sister” on the previous page.) There’s no dialogue written in the script when they find the junk-filled trunks in the pier. This would seem to indicate that either the excised riverside scene was heavily rewritten before it was shot — sadly since it’s long lost there’s no way to compare it with the pages — or that the “exploring the pier” scene was rewritten after the riverside scene had been shot and cut.

My main purpose on this site is to show pictures of Robin Johnson and place them in some sort of context, not to analyze Times Square to hell and back. There are others who can do that much better than I. But I will throw in a little here and there, just to get you talking amongst yourselves, hopefully. With that in mind, here’s a tiny peek into the mindset of the film’s creators: note that at the top of the screenplay page, our two protagonists, having abandoned civilization, achieve “an effect of … savage beauty” by darkening their skin. Make of that what you will. At least the beta carotene pills seem to have been dropped from the script before filming, otherwise we’d have all been wondering for years not only what happened to their hair, but where’d they get the tans.

M8DTISQ EC001
The first shot above is a black-and-white print. The photo was taken in color, as it was published that way many times, but I haven’t found a primary source image for it. And it bugs me, because as you can see this color version I found on the Web actually shows more of the image. Why it was printed in black-and-white, I don’t know. It’s one of a number of prints I believe to be contemporary with the film, as they all bear the stamp on the back “THIS PAPER MANUFACTURED BY KODAK,” which was used on Kodak photo paper from 1972 to about 1989. Some have numbers written on the back, but nothing to give a clue as to what they were for originally. Some are in black-in-white, some are color. The one thing they have in common is that they depict a shot from the film without actually being from that shot. Even when you take into account that the photographer wasn’t standing in the same spot as the movie camera, the things and people in the frame are in different positions. “What exactly do you mean?” I hear you ask. Well, since this particular photo is an exception, as it’s a shot not in the film at all, you’ll have to wait till next time for a demonstration.
Nicky and Pammy walk to the pier - frame capture from 'Times Square' DVD

 

 

 

But, here’s the closest shot in the film. It’s several blocks west and a long way south.

 

 

“Nicky and Pammy on the Street”
8 in (H) x 10 in (W) (work);
863 px (H) x 1080 px (W), 96 dpi, 535 kb (image)

1979/1980
inscription: [on reverse:] [handwritten:] Times Square
[stamped:] THIS PAPER MANUFACTURED BY KODAK

 
o-TIMES-900-300×199.jpg
900 px (W) x 598 px (H), 300 dpi, 140 KB (image)
1979/1980
retrieved on 2014-05-01 from Brooks, Katherine. “12 Films That Pay Homage To Punk Rock Girls.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc., 1 May 2014. Web.
 
TIMES SQUARE, p. 49
Screenplay by Jacob Brackman
1979

 
TIMES SQUARE, from left, Robin Johnson, Trini Alvarado, 1980, ©Associated Film .
1000 px (W) x 685 px (H), 300 dpi, 113 KB (image)
1979/1980
retrieved on 2014-10-22 from “Times Square.” Cineplex. Cineplex Entertainment LP, n.d. Web.
 
vlcsnap-2014-10-18-18h53m27s204-300×168.png
853 px (W) x 480 px (H), 72 dpi, 922 KB (image)
screen capture from Times Square (1980)
captured 2014-10-18
 
Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

WJAD

Posted on 23rd October 2014 in "Times Square"

The originals of these first two images weren’t collected by me. They’re located on an old, apparently long-abandoned Angelfire site on which Mr. Charles E. Rowe, Jr. documented some of his career in radio, part of which was spent at the Bainbridge, Georgia station WJAD (now WGEX). When these call letters were used for the fictional New York City station in Times Square, it was an important event, so of course he documented it. Unfortunately, two of Mr. Rowe’s four images have not survived, having vanished from the Web even before Archive.org’s first crawl of the site in 2001. (Or their links or filenames were mis-written — either way, they’re inaccessible.)"Stigwood's Flick Set For Summer" from Radio and Records 1980 So we don’t have the picture he captioned “Letter from Ron Stigwood requesting permission to use Station Call Lettters WJAD for ‘Times Square’ Movie” (Ron Stigwood was Times Square‘s Location Manager). I might have a copy of his “Promotional Flier Cover Page for the newly released movie,” but I may never know for sure what the image was he was describing.

We do have his “Radio and Records announcement of the production of the movie,” and it’s the earliest piece of advance promotion I know of. And the destiny of the film’s production is right there plain as day. As you might remember from a few episodes ago, Jacob Brackman’s screenplay from Allan Moyle’s story had a soundtrack of early 70’s FM soft rock and a little disco. This article makes it firmly “Stigwood’s flick,” and defines it as “A New Wave ‘Saturday Night Fever.'” Not one frame had yet been shot, and the focus had already shifted to the soundtrack, to be made up entirely of songs that had no place in the original concept.

(Yes, this publication was for radio professionals who of course would be more interested in the music than the film itself. And yes, the New Wave focus of the soundtrack is one of the best things about the finished movie. That’s not the point. The moment Robert Stigwood agreed to produce the film, it became a tool for him to sell records and its fate was set.)

"Picture of Station Call Letters WJAD sign of steel and neon construction on a downtown building, in the Big Apple"

 

 

Mr. Rowe described this photograph “Picture of Station Call Letters WJAD sign of steel and neon construction on a downtown building, in the Big Apple.” Actually, it’s not downtown at all; it’s the Candler Building, 220 West 42nd St., in the heart of Times Square right where Johnny LaGuardia says it is. Directly across the street from the Times Square Theater. The neon sign is facing east, as far as I can tell. The right side of the building in the picture is facing north and 42nd Street.

I don’t know where the interiors of WJAD were shot, but all the exteriors were shot there at the top of the Candler Building. The early shots in the film showing the Carter Hotel, the Times Square Building, and the Milford Plaza (which I think hadn’t yet been reopened under that name) were taken from there. That much was accurate; if the station was supposed to be located there, that’s exactly what Johnny was seeing when he went outside.

WJAD New York, in "the Heart of the Beast"

 

 

 

 

In this screencap from the film, you can just make out Johnny’s telescope.

 

Yeah, other than the mention in that Stigwood article, there’s no Robin in this post. Sorry about that. I’ll do better next time.

 

 

TimesSqPromo.jpg
315 px (W) x 377 px (H), 100 dpi, 42.9 KB (image)
ca. 1980
retrieved on 2014-03-23 from http://www.angelfire.com/ga2/charlierowejr/times.html
 
WJADintheBigApple.jpg
346 px (W) x 465 px (H), 100 dpi, 31.6 KB (image)
ca. 1980
retrieved on 2014-03-23 from http://www.angelfire.com/ga2/charlierowejr/times.html
 
vlcsnap-2014-10-16-21h04m08s42.png
853 px (W) x 480 px (H), 72 dpi, 404 KB (image)
screen capture from Times Square (1980)
captured 2014-10-18
 
Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

Nicky Marotta Hair/Make-up Test, 1979

Posted on 12th October 2014 in "Times Square"

Nicky Marotta hair/make-up test, 1979And the story continues… Allan Moyle wanted “real” girls, not professional actresses, to portray Nicky and Pammy, and searched high and low, even holding nation-wide open auditions, with no luck. Trini Alvarado was hired for Pammy on the strength of her performance in Rich Kids (1979), but Nicky eluded them.

Until, one day, an unidentified casting scout happened to spot Robin as she was cutting class and having a smoke on the steps of Brooklyn Tech. He gave her a card with the audition information and encouraged her to go as she would be perfect for the role. She put the card in her pocket and promptly forgot about it. Several days later, she found the card again, and thinking it might at least be a laugh, went to an audition. She didn’t get cast there on the spot, but she might as well have been; despite having no previous acting experience, she was perfect for the role, exactly what Moyle was looking for.

This picture, though… I’m not sure what look they thought they were going for, but thank god they didn’t stick with this. I think it’s a runaway-hippie-girl look that’s more evidence that the film originally had a late ’60s-early ’70s aesthetic. Although there’s a trace of this look remaining in Nicky’s tiny braids during the dancing-down-42nd-Street sequence, someone finally realized that Nicky would never spend that much time fussing with her hair.

Even Robin doesn’t look too happy about this look.

8 in (H) x 10 in (W) (work);
746 px (H) x 1080 px (W), 96 dpi, 461 kb (image)

1979
[handwritten on reverse:] 3-4

TIMES SQUARE Screenplay, 1979

Posted on 6th October 2014 in "Times Square"

"Times Square" screenplay cover sheetSo the story goes, Allan Moyle and Leanne Ungar rented an apartment on 42nd Street, having come to New York from a vibrant filmmaking scene in Montreal. They bought a used couch and found in the cushions a handwritten journal that appeared to be the work of an obsessive, possibly mentally ill young woman. This inspired a film treatment entitled “She’s Got the Shakes,” which got the attention of Robert Stigwood and Tim Curry, and with financial backing and a star, Times Square was off and running. Journalist and lyricist Jacob Brackman was hired to write the screenplay.

The screenplay I have is commonly considered to be the shooting script, although it differs greatly in places from what ended up on screen. This isn’t surprising since it’s also common knowledge that Moyle, the director, left the film towards the end of production to protest Stigwood’s insistence on changes to insert more music and lower the sexual overtones. I, however, don’t know for a fact how early or late a draft this copy is; it may or may not be what they had in hand when shooting started. Since it’s dated 1979, and the film was shot in 1979, for the sake of discussion I’m assuming it is the shooting script.

Overall, the biggest difference between the screenplay and the film is Nicky’s dialog: near the end of the film it’s nearly word-for-word as it appears in the script, but becomes more and more different the earlier in the film you go. The film was shot mostly in reverse: the concert in Times Square was one of the first things shot, and the scenes in the hospital the last, so my guess is that as production went on, Nicky’s dialog was tailored to better suit Robin’s performance. This is one of the few things I’ve asked Robin about: “Memory is kind of fuzzy – but changing daily ‘sides’ happens a lot on some films for various reasons… They probably did rewrite stuff specifically for me, or Allan sometimes went with my ‘improv’-ing intuitively.”

It’s not my intention here to thoroughly compare and contrast the screenplay with the finished film (and I could, believe me, I could go on for hours), but I would like to point out one thing. I’ve had over thirty years to think about this, and I’ve come to the probably unpopular opinion that the film we got is pretty damn close to the best possible version, plot holes, continuity problems, logical inconsistencies and all. Moyle’s original vision might have been a “better” film, but it wouldn’t have been one we’d all still be obsessing over and talking about today.

The screenplay, and I assume Moyle’s conception of the movie, is rooted firmly in the late 1960s-early 1970s. This is clear from the music selections mentioned in the screenplay, which (much like the finished film) is oblivious to the punk and New Wave revolution well underway several blocks south. The only contemporary music in the screenplay is disco. It was Robert Stigwood and Jimmy Iovine, in putting together the soundtrack, who gave the movie its New Wave gloss. Perhaps Moyle was already in the process of updating the music, and Stigwood just took things too far in his determination to use the film as promotion to sell records, but, judging from the screenplay…

Well, judge for yourself. Here are the songs in the screenplay, and what replaced them in the film. Note that there are a couple of songs that didn’t get replaced; there’s no music in the movie where they appear in the screenplay.

"Times Square" screenplay p 3
The Beatles, “All You Need Is Love”
[Roxy Music, “Same Old Scene”]

Linda Ronstadt, “Love Has No Pride”
[The Cure, “Grinding Halt”]

(“Nicky’s Song:” a record, made up for the film, that Nicky has adopted as her anthem; sung, chanted, played, and otherwise referred to many times during the story.)
[XTC, “Take This Town”]
[Ramones, “I Wanna Be Sedated”]
[Suzi Quatro, “Rock Hard”]

unnamed Stevie Wonder song
[Pretenders, “Talk of the Town]

Eddie Cochran, “Nervous Breakdown”
[D.L. Byron, “You Can’t Hurry Love”]

"Times Square" screenplay p 51
“The Times They Are A-Changin'” (The Bob Dylan song, performed by Nicky’s dad as he busks along the line at the TKTS kiosk.)

Lou Reed, “Sweet Jane” (They probably meant The Velvet Underground, but
the script says Lou Reed.)

Chic, “Freakout” (“Or some other rock-disco hit”)
[Desmond Child and Rouge, “The Night Was Not”]

Nicky & the Blondells, “Damn Dog Died”
[“Damn Dog” with slightly different lyrics; essentially the same]

Donna Summer, “Hot Stuff”
[Talking Heads, “Life During Wartime”]

“An original song, a tear jerker in the mood of “WHO’S SORRY NOW?””
[Patti Smith, “Pissing in a River”]

Del Shannon and the Vikings, “Runaway”

Orchestrated studio production of “Damn Dog Died”
[Marcy Levy and Robin Gibb, “Help Me!”]
[Roxy Music, “Same Old Scene”]

 

The film as originally conceived was totally unaware of the music that now seems to define it.¬† It certainly would have been a different movie had its opening titles been accompanied by “All You Need Is Love,” or had Nicky and Pammy danced down 42nd Street to the tune of “Hot Stuff.”

 

TIMES SQUARE, Screenplay by Jacob Brackman, Story by Allan Moyle and Leanne Ungar
1979
129 pp; cover sheet; end sheet