Bits and Pieces

Posted on 12th January 2016 in "Times Square"
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Take note: this post is mostly just me killing some time. It’s not really connected to Robin, and only technically connected to Times Square.

So, here are a few buttons I’ve managed to glom onto.

They’re not the actual ones used on Nicky’s jacket, but they were all real pins, and I’m hoping to find the others floating around, eventually.

Color photo of Robin Johnson as Nicky Marotta in "Times Square"

 

 

“Stick It In Your Ear” is the sole badge on her right lapel. “Rolling Stones In Concert” is near the top at the inner edge of her left lapel, and “I Am A Human Being” is at the bottom of her left lapel. The Stones pin may come from any time in the 1970s, and the others may even date back to the late 1960s. Of her other pins… her left collar wing sports a large cartoon image of Debbie Harry with the label “Blondie,” and I’ve never seen anything remotely like it. There was a promotional button of an ad for Ampex recording tapes featuring Blondie, and that’s the closest thing I’ve seen, but it’s not it.

 
Immediately below the Stones pin is a small button that looks all red. Out towards the tip of the lapel is another small button with a scallop or gear-like pattern around its edge. I’ve never been able to make out what’s on them.

 
There’s another button that isn’t always there, hanging off the edge of the lapel, a black and white face of a man with curly hair. I’d like to think it’s Johnny LaGuardia, but it doesn’t look quite like Tim Curry. I always thought it looked like Nigel Harrison of Blondie, but I’m pretty sure it’s not him. I’m not certain, but I think this button appears when Pammy gets the jacket.

At the top of the left lapel, just beside the Stones pin, is a red-on-white button reading “I Am Anonymous – Help Me.” This is another late ’60s- early ’70s counterculture/protest pin. I’ve only ever seen one of these, after it was sold, so I know they’re out there, but the problem with these buttons is they were made by anyone who thought they could sell them, and they don’t all have the same design. I’ve come across a few “Help Me” pins but none with the text laid out like Nicky’s, except for the one I was too late for.

I wonder which came first, “Help Me” the button, or “Help Me” the song. Was one the inspiration for the other, or was it just coincidence?

Except for the Blondie pin, these are all hippie, dinosaur pins, leading me (as I’ve mentioned before) to hypothesize that the jacket may have belonged to Nicky’s dad before he was cut from the film. The big butterfly applique on the back may have been put there by Nicky after she took possession of it… or, maybe, the jacket belonged to Nicky’s mom, and Nicky took it when she died.

More likely, though, it’s just a reflection of the late ’60s-early ’70s sensibilities of the film’s writer and director, clashing (or, merging?) with the punk/New Wave attitude the producer wanted the film to have.

There’s a “Stick It In Your Ear” button in the Labadie Collection of pinbacks at the University of Michigan.

Should the title of this post have been “Needles and Pins”?

 

 

STICK IT IN YOUR EAR button (button (information artifact) AAT ID: 300207332),
pin as used on Nicky’s jacket, 1 in (diameter) (work);
800 px (W) x 786 px (H), 96 dpi, 351 KB (image)

 

I AM A HUMAN BEING – do not fold, spindle or mutilate pin (button (information artifact) AAT ID: 300207332),
pin as used on Nicky’s jacket, 1.25 in (diameter) (work);
800 px (W) x 797 px (H), 96 dpi, 265 KB (image)

 

Rolling Stones IN CONCERT pin (button (information artifact) AAT ID: 300207332), pin as used on Nicky’s jacket, 2.5 in (diameter) (work);
800 px (W) x 789 px (H), 96 dpi, 327 KB (image)

 

STICK IT IN YOUR EAR button © BIG STORE NYC

 

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Times Square Blue

Posted on 4th February 2015 in "Times Square"
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Promotional slide "18-5" of Robin Johnson as Nicky Marotta at the conclusion of "Times Square" (1980) This is the last of the… well, what should I call them? The objects that have no publication information printed on them, or aren’t contained in some other package (although some of them turn up again later that way). Although… there’s at least one more image that fits that definition coming, the difference being that it wasn’t created by the production company.

It’s also the last of the slides. Well, no, that other image I mentioned above is also a slide. We’ll get to that in good time.

And when I say “the last of the” anything, I mean the last ones I have. I know there’s more out there, because I’ve seen them on the Web. At some point I’ll collate and re-post those too.

This slide has 18-5 written on the mount, and shows Nicky as she looks during the final concert scene. Another photo taken at the same time was printed in black and white and used in the US Press Kit. The lights behind her would seem to indicate that she’s on street level, and I know there’s at least one photo of Robin and Trini on the street in the outfits they wear in the final sequence, even though in the film they’re never both on 42nd Street dressed like that.

So this picture was taken either before she went up to the marquee, or after she came down. (Or, I suppose, during a break in the filming, but it would have had to be one long enough for her to come all the way down and go all the way back up. Doesn’t really matter. Moving on.) When the time came to get the image ready for posting, I was struck by how blue her sweater was, especially since I remembered it being a sort of sea-green. In the stills, it certainly looked greenish, although they were a little yellowed with age themselves. So I went to the film and compared it with frames like these:

So, yeah, green… I figured something had gone screwy with my original scan of the slide, and altered the color balance so that the sweater matched the bluish-green in the film. It was surprisingly easy, which I took to be proof that I was right, and then I went to find the “closest frame from the film” which I knew (since the slide is just a headshot and doesn’t represent a moment from the movie) took place in the previous scene, before her costume change and makeup touch-up… and there was this:

Robin Johnson as Nicky Marotta, resigned to her fate - frame grab from "Times Square" (1980)

Bright royal blue. I looked in some of the magazines that published photos from this scene… some were green, some were blue… Did she change into an identical sweater of a different color? Was it just a costume or continuity error? As we’ll see in the next post (I think), at least some of the footage from the concert was destroyed by the processing lab… was there a reshoot with the wrong sweater? Well, none of the above… thanks to the last few posts, I’ve been through the concert scene way too many times, and for every shot where the sweater looks green, there are two where it looks blue. And worse, there are no shortage of shots like this one:

Nicky leaps into the air - the closest frame from the film to B&W still 34

Blue on one side, sea-green on the other. I dug out the actual slide and had another look at it, and my scan was accurate: the sweater was pure blue. Under proper controlled lighting, it’s blue. But anywhere else, out on the street, running back and forth under the neon lights of Times Square, it changes color and looks more or less greenish. It’s a case of wool vs. film and there’s no clear winner.

There is a series of minor continuity errors in the concert scene: if you watch it too closely, the sweater’s sleeves jump up and down Nicky’s arms several times of their own accord. But it’s not really changing color. The blue in the slide above is the sweater’s true color. I’m pretty sure.

 

 

18-5
2 in x 2 in (including mount) (work);
1080 px (H) x 730 px (W), 96 dpi, 758 kb (image)

1979/1980
inscription: [written on slide mount:] 18-5

 

vlcsnap-2015-01-11-17h30m33s45.png
vlcsnap-2015-01-11-17h44m25s253.png

853 px (W) x 480 px (H), 72 dpi (images)
frame captures from Times Square (1980)
captured 2015-01-114

 

vlcsnap-2015-01-04-16h18m45s184.png
853 px (W) x 480 px (H), 72 dpi, 882 kb (image)
frame capture from Times Square (1980)
captured 2015-01-04

 

vlcsnap-2014-05-04-17h40m40s228.png
853 px (W) x 480 px (H), 72 dpi, 848 kb (image)
frame capture from Times Square (1980)
captured 2014-05-04

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

Aggie Doon

Posted on 16th December 2014 in "Times Square"
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“Words cannot express the sheer unbelievability of this performer and her material.”1980 slide of a promotional photograph from "Times Sqyare" (1980): Robin Johnson as Nicky Marotta as Aggie Doon performs "Damn Dog" Slide mount is inscribed 61-27

"Times Square" Screenplay by Jacob Brackman, 1979, P. 78Here we have Robin on set at the Cleo Club, in the full Aggie Doon getup. Her hair is now slicked back, and the cheap Kent has been replaced with an expensive Rickenbacker 360 (funny how both guitars she uses in the film have the nameplates removed from their headstocks — was that to imply they were stolen, or… or what?) . The screenplay features a scene in which she obtains the guitar from a member of the Times Square underground community; I don’t think it was ever shot.
 

(Incidentally, I’ve been thinking about the screenplay, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not "Times Square" Screenplay by Jacob Brackman, 1979, p. 79the shooting script: it’s dated May 1979, Robin was cast in August, and principal photography happened in October and November. I think this may have been the version that sold the property to Robert Stigwood, but I don’t know how reliable it is as a guide to what was intended to end up on screen when the cameras started rolling. It is, however, all we’ve got at the moment.)

This image isn’t from a print, it’s from a slide. Apparently some of these promotional images were distributed as slides to magazines. It’s still one or two generations away from the original, but it’s closer than a print would be. I know of the existence of four of these slides. I have three of them. The fourth is the color Yoram Kahana picture in this post, and is in the hands of DefeatedandGifted.

 

Brian Jones in Rome (April 1967) with Rickenbacker Model 360/12 Fireglo

Brian Jones in Rome (April 1967)
with Rickenbacker Model 360/12 Fireglo

When I see a Rickenbacker, I think The Jam, but that’s just me… Paul Weller chose to play a Rick because it’s so firmly identified with the British Invasion of the 1960s. Pete Townshend, John Lennon, George Harrison, Gerry Marsden… all played Rickenbackers, although generally they played the 330 model (or 325 in Lennon’s case); when they played 360s it was usually the 12-string version. You know who else played a 12-string Rickenbacker 360? Brian Jones. Yeah, the filmmakers gave Nicky a Rickenbacker for a very specific reason: as a callback to all the dinosaurs they were trying to celebrate even as Stigwood was trying to drag the film into the then-present. The tension between these two creative impulses is one of the film’s great strengths… and, it duplicated what was going on in the real world too (see: The Jam).

 

Robin Johnson as Nicky Marotta as Aggie Doon - frame capture from "Times Square" (1980)

I probably don’t need to mention at this point that the image in the slide doesn’t actually appear in the film. There is no point at which both Robin’s hands are off the guitar while she’s still wearing it. This is the closest frame I can find in the film, and they’re not alike at all. First of all, the slide is portrait-style and the movie is landscape, as movies generally were before smartphones.
 

Andy's big moment - enhanced frame capture from "Times Square" (1980)
 

 
The scene where the girls trade their stuff to Andy for the guitar is entirely missing from the film, but we do see someone who fits Andy’s description and delivers his line “Where you been?” in a bit of business not in the screenplay. Could that be Andy? It’s not like there’s a character named Andy in the cast list —

Tiger Haynes is Andy in "Times Square" (1980)
 

Oh… Tiger Haynes, huh? What do you suppose he looked —
George "Tiger" Haynes

Hm. Well, the guy in the film is only in two shots, we never really get a good look at —Frame capture from "Times Square" (1980) with Andy enlarged

Yeah… that’s him all right.

According to Wikipedia, George “Tiger” Haynes was an actor and jazz musician most famous for originating the role of the Tin Man in the Broadway production of The Wiz. He died in 1994. His big scene, such as it was, was cut from Times Square, but by god at least Andy is in the movie, unlike Nicky’s deadbeat dad.
 

 

“Aggie Doon, 61-27”
color slide, 2 in (H) x 2 in (W) (including mount) (work);
731 px (W) x 1080 px (H), 96 dpi, 766 kb (image)

1979/1980
inscription: [on mount:] [handwritten:] 61-27

 

TIMES SQUARE, pp. 78-79
Screenplay by Jacob Brackman
1979

 

jonesromeapr67.jpg
retrieved on 2014-11-30 from McCormack, Peter. “Brian Jones: Part Two.” Rolling Stones: Brian Jones Part Two. Rickresource, 14 Sept. 2010.

 

vlcsnap-2014-11-30-15h00m21s77.png
853 px (W) x 480 px (H), 72 dpi, 689 kb (image)
frame capture from Times Square (1980)
captured 2014-11-30

 

vlcsnap-2014-11-30-17h14m33s69_enhanced.jpg
vlcsnap-2014-12-01-20h58m55s97_edit.jpg

853 px (W) x 480 px (H), 72 dpi (images)
frame captures from Times Square (1980)
captured and enhanced/edited 2014-11-30

 

vlcsnap-2014-12-01-23h08m32s82_edit2.jpg
911 px (W) x 480 px (H), 72 dpi, 207 kb (image)
frame capture from Times Square (1980)
captured 2014-11-30; enhanced/edited 2014-12-1

 

TigerH.jpg
retrieved on 2014-12-01 from Fournier, Tony. “THE VOCAL GROUP HARMONY WEB SITE.” THE VOCAL GROUP HARMONY WEB SITE. N.p., 31 Aug. 2002. “… photo provided by Bill Proctor.”

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+
 

Nicky Marotta in Limbo

Posted on 8th December 2014 in "Times Square"
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Robin Johnson as Nicky Marotta, 1980 B&W publicity photograph

Black limbo, that is. This photo isn’t one of the “Kodak paper” series, but I’m going through these photos in the order they’d appear in the film (since I don’t know the order in which they were shot), and this one comes next. Except…

You know how I’ve been saying the pictures are from alternate takes that don’t actually appear in the film? This one doubles that. Triples. First, there’s no background. This is one of the very few shots taken only for publicity and not at a recognizable shooting location. Robin is wearing the Aggie Doon costume, so she’s dressed for the world premiere of “Damn Dog” at the Cleo Club, but she’s carrying her cheap Kent that she lost when she was arrested in the opening scene, and not the expensive Rickenbacker she plays with the Blondells. Also, her hair isn’t slicked back like Elvis like it is in the film. This is a glamor shot of Nicky, nothing more, nothing less.

This photo shoot produced at least four shots: this one; another which along with this one was published in Film Review in October 1980; the image that was used on the Australian movie poster and is currently on the UK DVD; and the picture on the back cover of the soundtrack album. (I’ll get to those in time.)

The back of this photo has crop measurement marks indicating the actual size of the picture. My guess is that was to help in laying out whatever page someone may have been planning to print it on, but I don’t really know.

Frame capture from "Times Square" (1980), brightened considerably to try to enhance detail in the guitar Nicky's playing

I’ve lightened all hell out of this dark alley to try to see the guitar better.


The most interesting thing to me about this picture is, that’s NOT Nicky’s guitar. In all the photos from this shoot, the Kent’s big K logo is plainly visible, it has one pickup in the lead position close to the bridge, and the fretboard has big rectangular inlays. The guitar she plays in the film, however, has no logo, has one pickup in the rhythm position closer to the neck, and the fretboard has little round dot inlays. The pickguard is also a vastly different shape, as is the body itself, and the tuning peg for the B string is missing. It’s a cheap beat-up guitar all right, but it might not even be a Kent. (If you can identify it, please chime in.)

 
 

“Nicky with Her Kent”
8 in (H) x 10 in (W) (work);
862 px (H) x 1080 px (W), 96 dpi, 338 kb (image)

1979/1980
inscription: [on reverse:] [handwritten in blue ink:] D+P. EAST 170 mm deep x 115 mm wide PA77
[handwritten in black ink:] ROBIN JOHNSON. 20
[stamped in black:] DEREK AND PAT EAST COLLECTION

 
vlcsnap-2014-11-22-19h40m55s213-enhanced.jpg
853 px (W) x 480 px (H), 72 dpi, 343kb(image)
frame capture from Times Square (1980)
captured and enhanced 2014-11-22
 
Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

Nicky Marotta, 1980

Posted on 17th October 2014 in "Times Square"
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Robin Johnson is Nicky Marotta
And this, of course, is the look they settled on for Nicky, ultimately using this photo on nearly all the American publicity materials. As this is the outfit she wears when the girls escape from the hospital, it was likely taken near the end of production, so the shaggy hair cut of someone who hasn’t got time for finesse with scissors is the wig Robin wears during act one.

Someone noticed what was going on in New York City in 1979, dressing Nicky in a leather jacket festooned with pins a la the Ramones, but even here the film’s roots are showing. The Blondie pin is contemporary, but the “Rolling Stones In Concert” pin could date from any time in the previous ten years, the happy face button from the previous 15 years, and the “Stick It In Your Ear” and “I Am Anonymous – Help Me” pins date from the late ’60s-early ’70s. And here’s where we can start speculating about the costuming, and seeing how pieces that may be totally coincidental may actually fit together… The Blondie pin is by itself, separate from the others. Perhaps the jacket itself really belongs to Nicky’s dad, who (although excised from the film) in the script seems to be a burned-out product of the ’60s; all the pins were his, except the Blondie one, added by Nicky herself. On the other hand, leather doesn’t seem to be Roger’s style. He seems more the denim or military fatigue jacket type. Maybe the jacket belonged to Nicky’s mom. Chew on that one.

Yes, she’s wearing a button that says “HELP ME.” I have more to say about that, but not here.

The back of the jacket sports a large colorful butterfly applique. Nicky gives this jacket to Pammy. I have plenty to say about that too, but I’ll wait until I post a picture where the butterfly is visible.

Color photo of Robin Johnson as Nicky Marotta in "Times Square"
With only one or two exceptions, all the production photos, including the ones like these that were only meant for promotional purposes, show the actors costumed and in a location indicating what scene they were shooting when the photo was taken. These photos feature the outfit Nicky is wearing when the girls escape the hospital, except for the cap, which Trini Alvarado wears in her photos from this shoot. But, the location… trees? I don’t recall the girls making a stop in Central Park… I believe these shots were taken just as they were starting to film the “lost” scene by and in the Hudson River, on a piece of undeveloped shoreline in New Jersey. That’s the only non-urban location in the script.
 

In the screenplay, Nicky buys (or steals) hair dye from Woolworth’s while wearing the ambulance driver’s coat and hat, so perhaps she put her jacket back on after they crossed the bridge. But in the film, she makes a huge point of changing her clothes while still in the ambulance, handing her jacket to Pammy; a bit of business not in the script. I wonder if perhaps the ambulance ride was shot after the river scene had already been cut, and was itself hastily rewritten to try to minimize what they could see was going to be a huge continuity problem. I know it was rewritten to improve Nicky’s dialog (or perhaps they left in some improvisation by Robin).

 

If all goes well, this post will go up on October 17, 2014, the 34th anniversary of Times Square’s general release in North America. (And it did! But I edited it, adding a picture and doubling the amount of text on October 29. So, always keep your eyes peeled for updates.)

 

[Added 18 June 2017: I posted this particular black-and-white photo because it’s the most complete version of the image I’ve come across, but I’ve come to realize that the item itself is number 36 in the main series of publicity stills from the UK, which were produced in late 1980 or early 1981, to promote the 15 January 1981 UK premiere. The image belongs here, but strictly speaking the item itself should probably have been the post after this one.]

 

Robin Johnson, “Times Square”
8 in (H) x 10 in (W) (work);
865 px (W) x 1080 px (H), 96 dpi, 557 KB (image)

1980
Photographer: Yoram Kahana
inscription: 36
[on back:] [handwritten:] D&P East
Robin Johnson
“Times Square”
30
[stamped:] DEREK AND PAT EAST COLLECTION”

 

robyn.jpg
600 px (W) x 975 px (H), 72 dpi, 187 KB (image)
1980
Photographer: Yoram Kahana
retrieved on 2010-11-16 from “Robin Johnson 1980, Photographed by Yoram Kahana.” Love is a Prelude to Sorrow. N.p., 7 Mar. 2010. Web.
Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+