Allan Moyle, still at work

Posted on 8th February 2017 in "Times Square"
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Allan Moyle directs Trini Alvarado and Robin Johnson in the WJAD studio

And here’s another shot of Allan Moyle giving the girls direction, this time for the “Your Daughter Is One” sequence. I can only imagine what Trini and Robin are thinking, based on their expressions. I wonder what Moyle was telling them.

Behind Moyle, on the left and out of focus, is the assistant director, Alan “Hoppy” Hopkins. We can’t see the headstock on Nicky’s guitar, so we can’t tell if this was taken before or after the “Rickenbacker” nameplate was removed (it doesn’t appear in the film).

And again, surprisingly for what should be one of the most interesting Times Square finds ever, that’s all I have to say about this. Here are the stars and director hard at work months before things started to go bad.

I still wonder occasionally whether the WJAD interiors were shot at the top floor of the Candler Building, where the exteriors were shot, or if they were on a set built somewhere, and if so, where. I’ve checked with the NYC Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting, and they’ve long since disposed of all the records of location permits for productions that long ago.

The back of this photo has the handwritten notation, “116-16A.” I don’t know when that was written, who wrote it, or what it might mean.

 

 

[Allan Moyle directs Trini Alvarado and Robin Johnson in the WJAD studio]
black-and-white photograph : AAT ID: 300128347 : 20.8 x 25.4 cm : 1979 (work);
116-16A auto_1080px.jpg
882 x 1080 px, 96 dpi, 330 kb (image)

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

Allan Moyle at work

Posted on 28th January 2017 in "Times Square"
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Allan Moyle directs Robin Johnson and Trini Alvarado on 42nd Street

Way back in October 2014, I posted a photo of Robin and Trini getting ready to shoot a scene that was later cut from the film, and complained that although the vast majority of Times Square publicity stills don’t actually come from shots of takes used in the film, there was a dearth of genuine behind-the-scenes images.

Frame grab from "Times Square"Well, that dearth is slightly less dearthy now. Here’s Allan Moyle directing the girls on 42nd Street. Judging from the neon sign at the left, it’s just as they duck into and get kicked out of the adult novelties shop. That shot was made from the street, not the sidewalk, so the movie camera is likely directly to our right.

Handwritten on the back is “45/35”. I have no idea what that might mean, or when it was written.

And that’s about all I have to say about this, despite the fact that it’s one of the things I’ve been most excited to find. Except maybe to note that Moyle seems to be wearing the same sweater we saw half of in the other photo. I’m sure, though, that quite a few comments will be inspired by the expressions on Robin and Trini’s faces.

 

 

[Allan Moyle directs Robin Johnson and Trini Alvarado on 42nd Street]
black-and-white photograph : AAT ID: 300128347 : 20.8 x 25.4 cm : 1979 (work);
45,35 auto_1080px.jpg
878 x 1080 px, 96 dpi, 378 kb (image)

 

vlcsnap-2017-01-14-19h17m08s269.png
frame grab from Times Square
480 x 853 px, 96dpi, 522 kb

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

AFD Campaign Pressbook (pages 1-4)

Posted on 25th July 2015 in "Times Square"
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“Newcomer Robin Johnson is a revelation as Nicky…”

 

The Campaign Pressbook from Associated Film Distribution was a promotional tool for theater owners. The first part repeated almost verbatim the biographical articles from the Press Materials folder, but supplied them in a format with illustrations that could be sent directly to a newspaper and printed. For instance, the article on Robin is the same as the one in the press kit, but the paragraphs dealing with her birthday, her home life, and her “whatever” attitude toward an acting career have been removed, and a line added for the theater owner to insert the theater name and the date Times Square opens. All of the photos in the Pressbook are ones included with the press kit.

The cover is a variation of the poster, with the elements moved to fill a 600-line newspaper ad space (four columns by 150 lines). (Most of the Pressbook, in fact, consists of pages of variously-sized ads based on the poster, all ready to be cut out and sent to your local paper with your theater’s name added in the blank space provided.)

The “Synopsis” on pages 1 and 2 is an edited version of what was given in the press kit. The accompanying photo is cropped from TS-82-30.

“‘Times Square Opens _____ at the _____ Theatre” is an edited version of the “Photo Captions – General Information” sheet from the press kit, accompanied by press photo TS-72-8A/14.

Trini’s bio is word-for-word from the press kit, illustrated with her headshot TS-11-24/5. Robin’s bio starts on page 3, and concludes on page 4 with her headshot TS-57-26/1. The Tim Curry bio has a cropped version of TS-66-28/8, and the Alan Moyle article is accompanied by TS-78-2/16, the action shot of Peter Coffield and Tim Curry.

The article at the end of page 4 is a new, punched-up synopsis intended to get you, the theater owner, excited about the fantastic promotional gimmicks on the pages to follow:

TIMES SQUARE INTRODUCTION

Nicky Marotta is tough…funny…funky… talented. At sixteen, she’s been put away and put down often enough to last a lifetime. She roams Times Square with a hot-wired guitar and a portable amp, making music and trouble.

But Nicky may be off the street for awhile. She bashed the car of an arrogant club owner with a crowbar — and now she’s in the hospital, under observation.

Pamela Pearl is the daughter of a civic do-gooder who has sworn to clean up Times Square. She is scared…shy…delicately pretty. In a recent letter to an all-night deejay, she described herself as a “zombie.”

She is in the same hospital — taking the same tests — as Nicky.

That’s the start of a beautiful friendship that leads to a wild escape in a stolen ambulance…a crumbling Hudson River pier…and back to the neon night world of Times Square where Pammy and Nicky take on a new identity.

As the incredible Sleaze Sisters.

With half the city searching for them, and the other half cheering for them to stay lost, only one person knows where the teenagers will turn up next — or what they’ll do. He is dee jay Johnny LaGuardia, the Diogenes of the all-night broadcasting.

And he isn’t telling…

Set to the beat of today’s most popular music, TIMES SQUARE is bold…colorful…exciting…imaginative entertainment from Robert Stigwood, whose hold on the youth market is now established with hits like “Grease,” “Saturday Night Fever” and “Tommy.”

Tim Curry (Dr. Frankenfurter in the cult classic, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show) is Johnny LaGuardia, perched in a soundproof skyscraper studio above Times Square, turning urban sprawl into poetry.

Newcomer Robin Johnson is a revelation as Nicky, teaching her new-found friend the ropes of roughing it and toughing it on 42nd Street. She’s also a dynamite singer, whose rendition of “Damn Dog” becomes a rallying cry for a million kids — in the movie — and is poised to zoom to the top of the charts in reality.

Trini Alvarado brings a cameo beauty and disarming appeal to the role of “Pammy,” who finds the courage to defy her uptight father — and his upright principles — by dancing in a Times Square nightery. She does it for friendship..for Sleaze Sister Nicky… and that’s all that matters.

Whether they’re creating a road hazard as windshield washing vagrants …developing a new teen-age fad, the rag-tag “look”… coming down on television…or coming up with kooky ideas to enlighten a city…the teamwork is terrific.

And the finale, atop a 42nd Street theatre marquee — where a swarm of chanting kids have gathered to hear the Sleaze Sisters play their spectacular swan song — is the best thing of its kind since “Meet John Doe.”

Kids will soon start picking up the Sleaze Sisters’ slogans (like “No sense makes sense”), their outrageous fashions and their music. But you can help that excitement get rolling by taking advantage of some sensational promotional opportunities.

Here’s what we mean….

 

 

AFD. “Times Square” Campaign Pressbook. Los Angeles: Associated Film Distribution, 1980, pp. 1-4;
black and white, 14.75 in (H) x 10.5 in (W), 20 pp (work)

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

U.S. Insert Card Poster

Posted on 16th July 2015 in "Times Square"
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Insert card poster for "Times Square" (1980).  Text:  In the heart of Times Square a poor girl becomes famous, a rich girl becomes courageous and both become friends. TIMES SQUARE ROBERT STIGWOOD Presents "TIMES SQUARE" Starring TIM CURRY ● TRINI ALVARADO And Introducing ROBIN JOHNSON Also Starring PETER COFFIELD ● HERBERT BERGHOF DAVID MARGULIES ● ANNA MARIA HORSFORD Executive Producers KEVIN McCORMICK ● JOHN NICOLELLA Produced by ROBERT STIGWOOD and JACOB BRACKMAN Directed by ALAN MOYLE Associate Producer BILL OAKES  Screenplay by JACOB BRACKMAN Story by ALLAN MOYLE and LEANNE UNGER    An EMI Release Distributed in the U.S. and Canada  By AFD (Associated Film Distribution) Soundtrack available on RSO Records and Tapes R RESTRICTED UNDER 17 REQUIRES ACCOMPANYING PARENT OR ADULT GUARDIAN DOLBY STEREO T.M. IN SELECTED THEATRES AFD T.M. ©1980 Associated Film Distribution RSO TM Records, Inc. 262 GAU GRAPHIC ARTS INTERNATIONAL UNION OFFICIAL UNION LABEL 796 PRINTED IN U.S.A. Property of National Screen Service Corporation. Licensed for use only in connection with the exhibition of this picture at the theatre licensing this material. Licensee agrees not to trade, sell or give it away, or permit others to use it, nor shall licensee be entitled to any credit upon return of this material. This material either must be returned or destroyed immediately after use. 800099
 
Insert cards aren’t made anymore, but they were my favorite form of movie poster, because the three windows in my bedroom way back when were spaced perfectly to fit two insert cards between. Also, the heavier card stock made them more durable when taking them down and putting them up.

As I recall, these were generally displayed in a theater’s lobby in a window labelled “Coming Soon.” The Times Square insert card is the same basic design as the full poster, with the elements rearranged slightly to fit the narrower format. The blotch of red paint in the background is larger, and Robin has been rotated to the left, although Trini and Tim maintain their orientation. The button with Tim on it has moved off Robin’s lapel up to her neckline, to keep it on the poster. The right point of Robin’s jacket’s collar has been redrawn now that it no longer would cover Trini’s face. The seam along its bottom edge disappears at the point where it was cut off for the one-sheet poster art, and the seam along the top (which was painted out on the one-sheet) isn’t there at all. The collar may even be a little longer and pointier than it was originally.

The credits are the same, except for the addition of a “Dolby Stereo in Selected Theatres,” and Allan Moyle’s name spelled correctly with two L’s in his story credit. His director’s credit maintains the “Alan” spelling. Why his name is spelled two different ways on this poster is as much a mystery to me as why it’s misspelled “Alan” on everything else connected with Times Square, including the film itself.

 

 

Times Square Full Color Insert Card 800099
color, 14 in (W) x 36 in (H) (work);
446 px (W) x 1080 px (H), 96 dpi, 384 kb (image)

1980
inscription:
In the heart of Times Square
a poor girl becomes famous,
a rich girl becomes courageous
and both become friends.
TIMES SQUARE
ROBERT STIGWOOD Presents “TIMES SQUARE”
Starring TIM CURRY ● TRINI ALVARADO
And Introducing ROBIN JOHNSON
Also Starring PETER COFFIELD ● HERBERT BERGHOF
DAVID MARGULIES ● ANNA MARIA HORSFORD
Executive Producers KEVIN McCORMICK ● JOHN NICOLELLA
Produced by ROBERT STIGWOOD and JACOB BRACKMAN
Directed by ALAN MOYLE
Associate Producer BILL OAKES
Screenplay by JACOB BRACKMAN
Story by ALLAN MOYLE and LEANNE UNGER
An EMI Release Distributed in the U.S. and Canada
By AFD (Associated Film Distribution)
Soundtrack available on RSO Records and Tapes
R RESTRICTED
UNDER 17 REQUIRES ACCOMPANYING PARENT OR ADULT GUARDIAN
DOLBY STEREO ™
IN SELECTED THEATRES
AFD ™
© 1980 Associated Film Distribution
RSO ™ Records, Inc.
262 GAU GRAPHIC ARTS INTERNATIONAL UNION OFFICIAL UNION LABEL 796
PRINTED IN U.S.A.
Property of National Screen Service Corporation. Licensed for use only in connection with the exhibition of this picture at the theatre licensing this material. Licensee agrees not to trade, sell or give it away, or permit others to use it, nor shall licensee be entitled to any credit upon return of this material. This material either must be returned or destroyed immediately after use.
800099

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

Times Square Press Material folder (post 3 of 5)

Posted on 14th May 2015 in "Times Square"
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“… in one of those inexplicable chance occasions, out of the blue, Robin Johnson appeared…”

 

Four more stills from the Times Square U.S. press kit.

Publicity still of Trini Alvarado and Peter Coffield from the "Times Square" US Press Materials folder.  Text:  (on image) TS-117-13/15 (on border) TIMES SQUARE AFD ©1980 Associated Film Distribution

TS-117-13
Trini Alvarado stars as the troubled daughter of an ambitious New York politician, played by Peter Coffield, and his lack of attention turns her into a rebellious runaway in “Times Square.”

Publicity still of Robin Johnson and Trini Alvarado in the "hideout" in Pier 56 from the "Times Square" US Press Materials folder.   Text:  TS-94-10A/13 TIMES SQUARE AFD ©1980 Associated Film Distribution

TS-94-10A
Robin Johnson and Trini Alvarado co-star as two runaway teenagers in New York who create their own bohemian life style in a revolt against authority in Times Square.

Publicity still of Robin Johnson and Trini Alvarado on the northwest corner of 50th Street and 8th Avenue, from the "Times Square" US Press Materials folder.   Text:  TS-61-14/10 TIMES SQUARE AFD ©1980 Associated Film Distribution

TS-61-14
Trini Alvarado as Pamela Pearl and Robin Johnson as Nicky Marotta become minor media celebrities when their bizarre runaway escapades are reported on radio by an all-night disc jockey in “Times Square.”

Publicity still of Robin Johnson, Trini Alvarado, and Miguel Pinero in the Cleo Club, from the "Times Square" US Press Materials folder.  Text:  (on image) TS-104-17A/7  (on border) TIMES SQUARE AFD ©1980 Associated Film Distribution

TS-104-17A
Trini Alvarado is a novice dancer on the runway of a sleazy Times Square nitery but keeps the job as a teenage attraction with the encouragement of her fellow runaway, played by Robin Johnson (lower left), in “Times Square.”

I don’t really have anything to say about these, but when have I let that stop me.

It means nothing, but I notice in the first pic, Pammy’s dad is on the right, looking down at her, and in the rest, Nicky is to the left and is looking up at Pammy (or would be if her head was turned; her eye level is below Pam’s). This is just an artifact of the four pictures I happened to post here, but, still…

The second pic: Robin sure rocked that Union suit, huh?

The third pic: this is another shot from the girls’ escape from the plainclothes cop in the Adonis Theater, as they’re about to descend into the subway at 50th Street and 8th Avenue. There’s a screengrab of this shot towards the bottom of this post and another photo from this scene is the third image in the gallery of close-ups in this post, in a collage with images of Times Square (the street).

The fourth pic of Pammy’s dancing debut is from the session that produced this. There’s yet another shot that will be used on a UK lobby card.

As usual, none of these are the actual shots from the film.

To punch up the Robin content in this post, here are the first five pages of the eight-page “Production Information” text packet. (Robin isn’t mentioned on the last three pages.)

The Robin stuff reads as follows. For the rest, you’re on your own, unless I get requests from the audience. (That’s you.)

TIMES
SQUARE

PRODUCTION INFORMATION

About The Motion Picture…

“Times Square” bursts on the screen with the earthy exuberance of the famed New York City crossroads, itself, and depicts the energy and antics of adolescents imbibing the heady rush of rebellion. It is set to the sound of today’s most outstanding rock music and showcases the excitement of three vividly strong performances–the transformation of an inhibited, awkward teener, done to perfection by Trini Alvarado; the radiance and effervescence of a new discovery in 16-year-old Robin Johnson, and an image-breaking character study of a disc-jockey on-the-edge by Tim Curry.

A contemporary drama that focuses on two teenage girls from opposite sides of the economic scale, “Times Square” needed two strong, young talents to work effectively as a film. Director Moyle was convinced that his leads would have to be found outside the normal casting pools and talent stables.

“I wanted two girls who were those characters,” he affirmed. “We sent out flyers, took ads in the Village Voice, Soho News, Aquarian, and contacted record stores and half-way homes. We scouted every rock dive, every disco, every club we could find.”

The final result of the massive search saw professionally trained Trini Alvarado cast as Pamela, the shy and inhibited only child of a successful politician, a widower who forgets his daughter amid the demands of his career. Trini had just won rave reviews for a stunning performance in her first film, Robert Altman’s “Rich Kids.”

For the demanding central role of Nicky an abandoned youngster reared in foster homes and the school of tough times, Moyle intended to cast an established, slightly older actress. But, in one of those inexplicable chance occasions, out of the blue, Robin Johnson appeared. She had been given the casting director’s number while standing on the steps of her high school in Brooklyn. An exceptionally bright, well-adjusted student, Robin certainly didn’t fit Moyle’s preconceived notions of what his Nicky was going to be. But with her raspy, husky Brooklyn style of vocalizing, a quick-witted sense of humor and a total lack of pretense, she stunned and charmed not only the director but producer Robert Stigwood as well. “Robin brought a great deal of warmth and an incredible amount of native humor to Nicky,” Moyle says admiringly.

About The Cast…

ROBIN JOHNSON, who makes her film debut as the explosive Nicky Marotta, was discovered outside her high school, Brooklyn Tech. That chance happening concluded a five-month nationwide talent hunt to find the dynamic, young singing actress for the demanding role. Robin had never acted previously. The 16-year-old New Yorker lives at home with her mother and a sister, Cindy. Her audition, both singing and reading script, overwhelmed everyone within hearing. Robin Johnson was Nicky Marotta.

I believe this is the first time the story of Robin’s “discovery” is told. It will quickly become one of the major selling points for the film.

 

 

TS-117-13/15
1080 px (W) x 868 px (H), 96 dpi, 277 kb (image)
TS-94-10A/13
1080 px (H) x 855 px (W), 96 dpi, 328 kb (image)
TS-61-14/10
1080 px (W) x 859 px (H), 96 dpi, 323 kb (image)
TS-104-17A/7
1080 px (W) x 862 px (H), 96 dpi, 310 kb (image)
black and white photographic prints, 8 in (H) x 10 in (W) (works);

1980
inscriptions: [on photos] TS-117-13/15; TS-94-10A/13; TS-61-14/10; TS-104-17A/7;
(on borders) TIMES SQUARE
AFD
©1980 Associated
Film Distribution

 

TIMES SQUARE PRODUCTION INFORMATION, pp. 1-5
8.5 in (W) x 11 in (H) (works);
1080 px (H) x 838 px (W), 96 dpi, 271 kb (image)
1080 px (H) x 838 px (W), 96 dpi, 376 kb (image)
1080 px (H) x 835 px (W), 96 dpi, 482 kb (image)
1080 px (H) x 835 px (W), 96 dpi, 354 kb (image)
1080 px (H) x 836 px (W), 96 dpi, 356 kb (image)

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

Times Square isn’t a punk picture”

Posted on 21st March 2015 in "Times Square"
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Cover of Mediascene Prevue 42, Vol 2 No 2, Sep-Oct 1980
 
Magazines are dated ahead by their publishers to try to keep them on the stands longer than their competitors. The date on a magazine usually refers to when it is supposed to be replaced by the next issue, not when it actually comes out. Anyway, although this issue of Prevue was probably still current when Times Square opened in October 1980, “Musicals” by Jim Burns is another case of an article having been written months before publication, before Associated Film Distributors and RSO has designed their marketing plan.

The two photos accompanying the article are the same ones that had been used by The Aquarian back in April, although they’re cropped differently: there’s more of Robin and Trini, and a bit less of Tim. Along with the shot of Nicky with microphone in the Cleo Club, these were the first images released to the press, but they weren’t included later in the official press kit.Photo of  Pammy and Nicky in the WJAD studio From: Mediascene Prevue Vol No 2, Sep/Oct 1980, p 16

The article describes Times Square as a product of Robert Stigwood’s media powerhouse, but also features Allan Moyle defending what remained of his original vision for perhaps the last time in the press: “Times Square isn’t a punk picture,” he says. “The girls’ particular rebellion or societal anger has to do with their own little heads. They’re not making any statement; they’re just two runaways.”

That much is certainly true: Times Square was not conceived as a story that takes place within an environment where New Wave rock is actively being created, as opposed to films like Breaking Glass (1980) and Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (1982) (but shot mostly in 1980), where the main characters deliberately set out to start bands and are surrounded by other bands. If it had been, the location would probably have been moved to CBGBs and the title changed to The Bowery. Nicky’s spirit and determination to do everything herself at whatever cost, however, fit in perfectly with punk’s DIY ethos.

Mediascene Prevue Vol No 2, Sep/Oct 1980, p 17
 
But he then goes on to say, “New Wave music was in our script from the very beginning, before we had had any contact with the Stigwood Organization. The music is keyed to the texture of the screenplay.” Although we don’t know exactly when the soundtrack became a vehicle for New Wave music, we do know that in the original script the soundtrack was Classic Rock, Adult Contemporary, Disco, and Oldies. The closest thing to New Wave was “Sweet Jane” by the Velvet Underground. While it is entirely possible that Moyle and Jacob Brackman had started changing the music before Stigwood got his hands on the script, I believe that changing the focus of the soundtrack was Stigwood’s idea. It was a deliberate attempt to cater to a new segment of the market; as much of the publicity material says, to make a New Wave Saturday Night Fever. It may have been a cynical business-driven move, but it improved the film no end. Although it does create the strange situation of New Wave music being everywhere while there are almost no visible signs of the city’s vibrant punk scene that hadn’t yet started to fade.

Mediascene Prevue Vol No 2, Sep/Oct 1980, p 19

Finally, the article states, “Despite Moyle’s claim that Times Square isn’t a ‘punk picture,’ the film’s soundtrack will offer seven New Wave songs, including Desmond Child and Rouge’s ‘The Night is Not,’ Tom Petty’s ‘Refugee’ and Talking Heads’ ‘Life During Wartime.'” That one sentence contains three facts proving how long before publication it was written. First: Allan Moyle had not yet been fired for refusing to cut scenes in order to accommodate more music. Second: seven New Wave songs? The final soundtrack album contains 20 songs, at least 12 of which are New Wave (depending on how much of a pedant you are over the definition of “New Wave”), plus one more song that didn’t make the album. So, this was also before Stigwood had the idea to produce a double-album, thus necessitating the cuts to add more music. And third: Tom Petty? Again with the Tom Petty? Now I dimly remember that when “Refugee” first came out, Tom Petty was marketed as being something of a New Wave act (although of course he wasn’t), and “Refugee” does seem to be a good thematic fit for Times Square, but why were they so insistent for so long that it was going to feature in the soundtrack? Might it have had something to do with Robert Stigwood putting Bill Oakes and Jimmy Iovine in charge of assembling the soundtrack? Jimmy Iovine, who in 1979 co-produced Tom Petty’s Damn the Torpedoes album? That album came out as Times Square started shooting. The single reached #15 in January 1980. It probably seemed like an obvious and easy choice for Iovine to shepherd a cross-promotion deal with a major motion picture whose soundtrack he was putting together. Luckily for all of us, though, the deal fell through. I like “Refugee” but it belongs on the Times Square soundtrack even less than “Help Me!”

tl;dr: “Does Times Square merely use New Wave in the same way that Stigwood highlighted disco in Saturday Night Fever?” the article asks. The answer at the time: Not yet, but just you wait.

(One last piece of evidence of how early the article was written: RSO hadn’t yet removed one of the L’s from Allan Moyle’s first name.)

Here’s the Times Square material from the article, so you don’t have to strain your eyes:

Some upcoming features which offer new artists include Heading for Broadway (starring Rex Smith and co-scripted, directed and produced by Joseph Brooks (You Light Up My Life)), Idolmaker (based on the life of Bob Marcucci, the rock entrepreneur who discovered Fabian and Frankie Avalon, with music by Jeff Barry and Hall and Oates), Rude Boy (starring The Clash), The Apple (a science-fiction musical set in 1994), Running Hot (a Smokey and the Bandit-type film about a female rock trio heading cross-country to Los Angeles where they hope to find success, starring Hot), and the Robert Stigwood Organization’s (Saturday Night Fever, Grease) Times Square.

The latter relates the adventures of two teenage runaways — Pamela, a shy, inhibited girl whose wealthy father, a city commissioner, is directing a Times Square rehabilitation program, and Nicky, a rebellious street delinquent — who evolve into singing stars on their adopted home of Manhattan’s 42nd Street. The film showcases the actresses portraying the runaways: Trini Alvarado (Pamela), who debuted in Robert Altman’s Rich Kids, and newcomer Robin Johnson (Nicky). But just how important could Times Square be to their careers?

“Trini Alvarado is already very well established. Somebody looking for her type would find out about her within a matter of phone calls in the feature film world,” says Times Square’s director, Allan Moyle (Montreal Main, The Rubber Gun). “But Robin Johnson, a complete unknown, has the more glamorous role. I mean, she’s Jimmy Dean. It was a potential problem to give such a heavy role to a novice. Robert Stigwood and I did not see eye-to-eye on that decision at all. He didn’t want to send the picture down the tubes with an unknown. I wanted to take the chance, because Robin’s a natural with a great, gruff singing voice. Robert now agrees that when Times Square is released, Robin Johnson is going to explode.”

As Times Square progresses, the runaways’ story is promoted by Johnny Laguardia, a DJ who “eggs Pamela and Nicky on, turning them into minor media celebrities.” Laguardia is portrayed by Tim Curry, famous for his role as the transsexual alien, Dr. Frank N. Furter, in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Towards Times Square’s finale, Pamela and Nicky give an illegal concert above a 42nd Street theater marquee as “The Sleaze Sisters,” a high-style version of bag ladies. Inspiring others to “reject the plastic culture and go sleaze,” hundreds of teen-age girls arrive at the concert dressed as “Sleaze Sisters.” Undoubtedly, critics will perceive them as a parody of New Wave culture.

Times Square isn’t a punk picture,” Moyle counters. “The girls’ particular rebellion or societal anger has to do with their own little heads. They’re not making any statement; they’re just two runaways. We don’t spoof New Wave either. Pamela and Nicky are dead serious about their trip.”

Despite Moyle’s claim that Times Square isn’t a “punk picture,” the film’s soundtrack will offer seven New Wave songs, including Desmond Child and Rouge’s The Night is Not, Tom Petty’s Refugee and Talking Heads’ Life During Wartime. The movie’s score indicates Hollywood’s apparent desire to popularize New Wave music.

If New Wave rock does become the next multi-million-dollar music trend, won’t that automatically make punk rockers hypocrites, since the underlying core of the so-called “New Wave mores” is anti-establishment?

“It’s an unfortunate cycle,” [Lech] Kowalski agrees. “That’s essentially what happened to the Sex Pistols. They couldn’t handle the potential monster they created both financially and artistically. There are a lot of producers looking for the next massive cultural phenomenon they can exploit. For the moment, it’s New Wave. It’s a self-destruct situation. That’s why my film’s called D.O.A.—Dead on Arrival.”

Kowalski’s attack on exploitative producers could be directed at the moguls behind any film featuring New Wave music. Most suspect, however, is Robert Stigwood’s and Allan Moyle’s Times Square. Does Times Square merely use New Wave in the same way that Stigwood highlighted disco in Saturday Night Fever, or does the film remain true to New Wave ethics?

“Look, American New Wave politics are a hoot, because it’s all art students slumming,” says Allan Moyle, “but the music does have that special new feeling. New Wave music was in our script from the very beginning, before we had had any contact with the Stigwood Organization. The music is keyed to the texture of the screenplay.”

 

 

Burns, Jim. “Musicals.” Mediascene Prevue Vol. 2 No. 2, Sept.-Oct. 1980: 12-19. Print.

 

Mediascene_Prevue_42_Vol_2_No_2_Sep-Oct_1980_p1_auto_crop_1080.jpg (cover)
9 in (W) x 12 in (H), 72 pp (work);
1080 px (H) x 811 px (W), 96 dpi, 575 kb (image)

 

Prevue2-2p16_1080px.jpg (detail from p. 16)
1080 px (H) x 880 px (W), 96 dpi, 556 kb (image)

 

Prevue2-2p17_1080px.jpg (p. 17)
9 in (W) x 12 in (H) (work);
1080 px (H) x 806 px (W), 96 dpi, 608 kb (image)

 

Prevue2-2p19_1080px.jpg (p. 19)
9 in (W) x 12 in (H) (work);
1080 px (H) x 806 px (W), 96 dpi, 628 kb (image)

 

Mediascene Prevue ©1980 James Steranko

 

“The Trend Settles in New York”

Posted on 13th February 2015 in "Times Square"
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I confess I don’t quite understand what that title means. Am I missing something clever?

 
"The Trend Settles In New York," by Tony DeSena, "The Aquarian," April 23-30, 1980, p. 22 (10-A)

This article was published at the end of April 1980, from an interview done when there were two weeks left of principal photography, and is chock full of things to raise an eyebrow at. To start with, director Allan Moyle starts off saying that the lab ruined the footage of the crane shot of the crowd at the concert in Times Square. Evidently enough survived to edit into the film, since the movie closes with a shot exactly as he describes, but more interestingly, that was one of the first things shot, and he’s only now finding out that the footage was destroyed? Wasn’t it shot in November of 1979? How long was the shooting schedule anyway? I’m guessing the interview was probably done in December 1979, and then held until the timing was better for advance publicity. (On the Anchor Bay Times Square DVD commentary track, Moyle describes all sorts of things going wrong during the concert shoot, and footage being destroyed during production isn’t one of them.)
 

Moyle is described as “optimistic,” and Robert Stigwood

has been described as “very supportive,” which usually translates into, “He’s not breathing down our necks — he’s letting us work.”

Stop laughing. Oh, you’re crying? I’m sorry.

Regarding the soundtrack, the first artist mentioned is Tom Petty, who isn’t on the soundtrack. This announcement is later repeated in other pre-release articles.

On the day I spoke with him, Allan Moyle was shooting inside the old San Juan Theatre, on 165th Street on Upper Manhattan’s West Side. The scene being shot was a tender reconciliation between father and daughter, near the end of the film.

No such scene appears in the film, or in the early draft of the screenplay we have. This theater must have been doubling for another location, or perhaps had a set built inside it, or the article’s author was describing the scene incorrectly… we may never know. Maybe it was a wrong description of Mr. Pearl’s speech that sets Pammy off?

Also, unlike the movie, the article spells Allan Moyle’s first name correctly.

The article concludes saying the production is “aiming for a late summer release date next year,” which would be 1981. Times Square opened October 17, 1980; assuming the article was written in 1979 and not re-edited when it was published five months later, it’s correct.

I can’t say with 100% certainty, but so far it looks like the two images that accompany this article were published in other magazine articles, but didn’t appear in any of the publicity packages released by AFD or EMI. If I find them, though, you’ll be the first to know.

One last thing: although I may very likely have been reading The Aquarian in April 1980, I never saved any of them, and this article at the time wouldn’t have meant anything to me anyway. This item is a photocopy I came across while going through my Robin Johnson stuff for this project, and I don’t know where it came from.

 

 

“The Trend Settles In New York”
DeSena, Tony; “The Aquarian,” April 23-April 30 1980, p. 22 (10-A) [photocopy of article]
8.5 in (H) x 11 in (W) (work)
839 px (H) x 1080 px (H), 96 dpi, 685 KB (image [jpg])

 

 

“Damn Dog”

Posted on 24th December 2014 in "Times Square"
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8"x10" color print of Robin Johnson performing "Damn Dog" - shot not as it appears in the film

Left to right: Trini Alvarado, Robin Johnson, Artie Weinstein, Paul Sass. Just beyond the periphery: Billy Mernit


Back to the 8 x 10 Kodak prints… here’s another shot of Robin as Nicky dressed up as Aggie playing “Damn Dog” in the Cleo Club, and as always, there’s no frame in the film that matches up. The frame I’ve chosen is the only one where Robin has both hands on her guitar, is singing into the mic, and most importantly Artie has his hand up spinning his drum stick. But, not only is the shot framed entirely differently and from a different position, Robin isn’t even facing the same direction, and may not be singing the same word.Aggie Doon (Nicky Marotta [Robin Johnson]) perfoms "Damn Dog" - Frame capture from "Times Square" (1980)

 

“Aggie Doon.” In the commentary audio track on the 2000 Anchor Bay DVD, Robin asks director Allan Moyle why they went with that name, and he doesn’t remember. I seem to remember hearing something about Nicky using a pseudonym because, after all, she’s wanted by the police, but I don’t remember where it was I came across that idea. That doesn’t really make sense, though, since Pammy is dancing under her own real name. The screenplay doesn’t explain it either.

 

"Times Square" Screenplay by Jacob Brackman, 1979, p. 77
 

Also on the commentary track, in the previous scene where Nicky reads her poem to Pammy, Moyle claims that Robin wrote part of it, and she’s gobsmacked because although she was writing and performing poetry at the time of the commentary’s recording, she has no recollection of contributing to “Damn Dog.” The reason for that is simple: she didn’t. The poem she recites in the film is almost word-for-word the poem Jacob Brackman wrote in the early draft of the screenplay, months before she was discovered; and unless she changed her name to Norman Ross, she didn’t contribute any of the changes made when it was turned into the song."Damn Dog, by Billy Mernit, Jacob Brackman, and Norman Ross"

What’s my point? I guess it’s that Allan Moyle, bless ‘im, is something of an unreliable narrator when it comes to the making of Times Square.

 

More importantly, though… if Robin isn’t Norman Ross, then who is?
 Norman Ross (left), co-writer of "Damn Dog" and "Your Daughter is One," playing guitar. Photo provided by Billy Mernit.


“Norman was one of my closest friends and was the backbone of my band for many years – a stellar guitarist. He was the soul of rock’n’roll incarnate. He died a number of years ago due to a lifetime of wretched excess.

“Specific to ‘Damn Dog,’ he’s responsible for the guitar phrasing of its signature lick – that ‘Dat-DAT-dut! Da-DAH-da-da-da…’ figure, which was in a sense Norman channeling Keith Richards. (The lyrics are Jacob’s with some revisions/additions of mine, and the melody and chord structure is me.)”

— Billy Mernit

 

If you’re here reading this odds are the chords that kick off “Damn Dog” are burned permanently into your brain. If you play guitar you’ve had a bash at them more than once. They mean something to you in a visceral way. Can you imagine “Damn Dog” without that lick? Can you imagine “Times Square” without a song featuring that lick? Norman Ross created this specific thing without which the effect and the affect of the movie would have been immeasurably diminished. There’d be something missing from your life and you’d never know it.
 

It’s a shame he’s not around so we could express our appreciation directly, but at least we can now keep his name alive whenever we hear “Damn Dog” start up.
 

I dedicate this to Norman Ross, and all the other dinosaurs that got kicked outta the band.

 

 

“Damn Dog, 60-6A”
color photographic print, 8 in (H) x 10 in (W) (work);
866 px (W) x 1080 px (H), 96 dpi, 491 kb (image)

1979/1980
inscription: [on back:] [handwritten:] 60-6A

 

vlcsnap-2014-12-07-13h01m02s187.png
853 px (W) x 480 px (H), 72 dpi, 737 kb (image)
frame capture from Times Square (1980)
captured 2014-12-07

 

TIMES SQUARE, p. 77
Screenplay by Jacob Brackman
1979

 

“TIMES SQUARE” Songbook, p. 47 (detail)
800 px (W) x 194 px (H) (image)

 

Norman Ross in Action
329 px (W) x 632 px (H), 72 dpi, 100 kb (image)
Photo courtesy Billy Mernit
provided 2014-12-15, edited 2014-12-21

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

Pammy and Nicky On the Run

Posted on 15th November 2014 in "Times Square"
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Production still of Pammy and Nicky running from the police

“Oh, we ran all day long.” — Robin

 

 

 

This is an 8×10 print, showing the full 35mm frame, of Nicky and Pammy running from the plainclothes detective, about to turn left and duck into the adult theater. The paper it’s printed on, as are most of the next batch of photos I’ll be posting, is stamped “THIS PAPER MANUFACTURED BY KODAK,” which was used on Kodak paper from about 1972 to 1989, leading me to believe it was printed at the time of the film’s production.

vlcsnap-2014-10-19-21h20m59s138
The most interesting thing about that shot is that, like the rest of these Kodak paper stills, it doesn’t actually appear in the film. The shot in the film is from in front of them, not from across the street, and even taking that into account, there’s no point in the film where the girls are in quite those positions relative to each other. This screencap is the closest image in the film. These pictures (and nearly all the other promotional photos as well) are from either rehearsals or unused takes, and I find it hard to believe that with their relatively low budget and tight schedule, and the problems involved in filming on a New York City street, they would have done a full run-through like that without rolling film, just in case.
 

In the commentary track on the 2000 Anchor Bay DVD, Allan Moyle identifies the theater as the Victory, and remembers it being the one Robin performs on the marquee of at the end of the film. He asks Robin to confirm it, but she has no memory of it. This was the first time he’d seen the film in 20 years, and he might not ever have seen the released version until then, so he can be forgiven for being wrong on every point there.
 

The Victory was on 42nd Street just east of the Times Square Theater, atop the marquee of which Nicky sings “Damn Dog.” The girls here have run from their 3-Card Monte hustle on 47th Street and Broadway, and have just passed 50th Street, heading north on 8th Avenue. The theater they run into is the Adonis, which was the largest gay theater in the city until it closed in 1989. Fortunately for we students and historians of cinema, this theater had been immortalized two years earlier in the porn film A Night at the Adonis, so we can compare:

The lobby of the unnamed Times Square porn theater in "Times Square" (1980)

“Times Square” (1980)

The lobby of the Adonis Theater in "A Night at the Adonis" (1978)

“A Night at the Adonis” (1978)

The box office in "A Night at the Adonis" (1978)

“A Night at the Adonis” (1978)

Chelly Wilson in the Adonis ticket booth - screencap from "Times Square"

“Times Square” (1980)


Looking up at the balcony of the unnamed porn theater in "Times Square" (1980)

Looking up at the balcony – “Times Square” (1980)

The balcony of the Adonis Theater in "A Night at the Adonis" (1978)

Looking across the balcony – “A Night at the Adonis” (1978)

Unfortunately, the theater interior isn’t lit quite as well in A Night at
the Adonis
, but all that seems to have changed in the two intervening
years are the flowers.
Photo of Chelly Wilson c. 1968
 

To top it off, the unflappable woman in the box office booth who watches Nicky and Pammy and the cop jump the turnstile is either Chelly Wilson, owner of the Adonis (as well as most if not all of the other gay theaters in the city), given a closeup in return for the use of the theater through a deal with location manager Ron Stigwood; or an extra carefully made up to look exactly like Chelly Wilson, because someone thought it was funny…? My money’s on the first option.

Here is your essay topic: The largest gay male theater in the city was redressed as a straight porn theater for this scene in Times Square. Discuss this in terms of (1) the portrayal of the city in general in the film, and (2) what we know about changes made to the film during its production. For extra credit, discuss the significance, intended or unintended, in part of the set redressing taking the form of a “Coming Attractions” poster for A Woman’s Torment.
Nicky and Pammy duck under the theater turnstile and run past a poster for "A Woman's Torment" (1977)

 

“Nicky and Pammy on the Run”
8 in (H) x 10 in (W) (work) [w/o border 6.5 in x 9.625 in];
857 px (H) x 1080 px (W), 96 dpi, 622 kb (image)

1979/1980
inscription: [on reverse:] [stamped:] THIS PAPER / MANUFACTURED / BY KODAK
 
vlcsnap-2014-10-19-21h20m59s138.png
853 px (W) x 480 px (H), 72 dpi, 925 KB (image)
frame capture from Times Square (1980)
captured 2014-10-19
 
vlcsnap-2014-11-02-19h48m33s206.png
853 px (W) x 480 px (H), 72 dpi, 922 KB (image)
frame capture from Times Square (1980)
captured 2014-11-02

 

vlcsnap-2014-11-11-22h25m05s10.png
vlcsnap-2014-11-11-22h27m37s122.png

853 px (W) x 480 px (H), 72 dpi (images)
frame captures from Times Square (1980)
captured 2014-11-11

 

vlcsnap-2014-11-11-22h32m39s104.png
vlcsnap-2014-11-11-22h36m55s128.png
vlcsnap-2014-11-11-22h34m51s104.png

853 px (W) x 480 px (H), 72 dpi (images)
frame captures from A Night at the Adonis (1978)
captured 2014-11-11
 
vlcsnap-2014-11-13-23h27m11s241.png
853 px (W) x 480 px (H), 72 dpi, 850 kb (image)
frame capture from Times Square (1980)
captured 2014-11-13

 

tumblr_na00ux93gM1r2zfpso1_1280.gif
1280 px (W) x 1531 px (H), 72 dpi, 946 KB (image)
retrieved on 2014-11-02 from Timessquareblue. “Chelly Wilson, Owner of the Adonis, Eros, Venus,…” Times Square Blue. N.p., 8 Aug. 2014. Photo Source: New York Times
 
Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

On Location

Posted on 29th October 2014 in "Times Square"
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A behind-the-scenes photo from "Times Square" showing the setup for a shot that does not appear in the film.

“The man with the walkie-talkie was the 1st assistant director, ‘Hoppy’ (that was his nick-name on the set).” — Robin

This is the only photo I’ve come across showing the production of Times Square. The assistant director’s full name is is Alan Hopkins. In the center are, of course, Robin and Trini Alvarado. All the way to the right, we can see half of director Allan Moyle.

This is the northwest corner of 42nd Street and 6th Avenue, looking east. The trees at the right are Bryant Park. The tracks in the street imply they were filming a traveling shot of the girls walking towards Times Square, but despite the fact that this shoot generated several publicity photographs, it doesn’t appear in the film.

I was going to spend the rest of this post speculating about where this shot would have gone in the movie, but I think I just figured it out, so you’ll just have to wait for the next post.

(Actually, come to think of it, there are at least two other pictures that show a little behind-the-scenes action… but neither of them scream “We’re making a movie!” like this one.)

 

 

 

Behind the scenes 68-24A
8 in (H) x 10 in (W) (work);
744 px (H) x 1080 px (W), 96 dpi, 537 kb (image)
1979/1980

[on back:] [handwritten:] 68-24A

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+