SONIDO – la revista musical, No. 56, June 1981

Posted on 12th July 2018 in "Times Square"
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Mexican pop music magazine featuring article on TIMES SQUARE.  Text:  NUMERO 56  $30 00  SONIDO 'a musical  ROD STEWART THREE SOULS BEATLES DANGEROUS RHYTHM  ¡¡¡LA NUEVA EXPLOSION DEL ROCK PESADO¡¡¡

 

 

 

 

The June 1981 issue of the Mexican pop music magazine Sonido contained on pages 38 and 39 an article credited to “Vicco,” but which seems to be exactly the same kind of AFD/RSO-written publicity published in English in similar magazines a year before.

The article calls the film Times Square. It wasn’t released under that title in Mexico, though, as we shall see.

The accompanying photos are the ubiquitous TS-72-8A/14, TS-66-28/9, and TS-82-30[/4], all three of which were part of the US Press Material pack.

POR: vicco

TIMES SQUARE es un drama contemporáneo,con música estelarizada por los talentos de Tim Curry, cantante y actor británico que se dio a conocer con El show de terror de Rocky; Trini Alvarado, quien tuvo un importante papel en la película de Robert Altman Rich kids, y Robin Johnson, una actriz proveniente de Brooklin, muy dinámica y que canta también en su debut cinematográfico.

La película fue filmada en diversas locaciones de Nueva York, incluyendo el infame Deuce y es resaltada por veinte canciones originales ejemplificando algo de lo mejor del rock contemporáneo interpretadas por los más importantes artistas del momento, así como por las dos estrellas de la cinta, Robin Johnson y Trini Alvarado.

Times square retrata las desventuras de dos chiquillas rebeldonas, una proveniente de un ambiente sofisticado y, la otra, producto de las calles. Juntas desde el cuarto de un hospital neurológico comienzan una serie de bizarras escapadas y su comportamiento es reportado por un disc-jockey que trabaja toda la noche en una estación de radio y que las anima a seguir con sus trucos y logra convertirlas en celebridades menores de los medios. Ellas pasan sobre todas las autoridades llegando al climax en una escena sobre la marquesina del teatro Times Square con cientos de seguidores rindiendo su tributo.

Dicha cinta es una presentación de Robert Stigwood y fue producida por Stigwood y Jacob Brackman, dirigida por Alan Moyle, basada en una historia de Moyle y Leanne Unger. Kevin McCormick y John Nicollela son los productores ejecutivos y Bill Oakes es productor asociado.

LA MUSICA
En un momento en que la música de películas se encuentra entre los discos más populares y cuando ha sido entendida como un vehículo muy importante para la aceptación de una cinta, aparece un nuevo álbum doble en discos RSO con la música de la película Times square, uno de los más excitantes que han sido lanzados, pues no sólo captura el espíritu de la película, sino que es además una antología única de canciones interpretadas por los mejores artistas de rock del momento, tanto de Inglaterra como de Estados Unidos, incluyendo a Suzi Qautro, The Pretenders, Roxy Music, Gary Numan, The Talking Heads, Joe Jackson, The Patti Smith Group, XTC, The Cure, Lou Reed,The Ramones, The Ruts, David Johansen y muchos otros. ¡Es un álbum espectacular!

v

BY: vicco

TIMES SQUARE is a contemporary drama, with music, starring the talents of Tim Curry, singer and British actor who became known in The Rocky Horror Picture Show; Trini Alvarado, who had an important role in Robert Altman’s movie Rich Kids, and Robin Johnson, an actress from Brooklyn, very dynamic and who also sings in her film début.

The movie was filmed in diverse locations of New York, including the infamous Deuce, and it is highlighted by twenty original songs exemplifying some of the best contemporary rock performed by today’s most important artists, as well as by both stars of the film, Robin Johnson and Trini Alvarado.

Times Square portrays the misfortunes of two little girl rebels, one from a sophisticated environment and, the other one, a product of the streets. Together from the room of a neurological hospital they begin a series of bizarre escapades and their behavior is reported by a disc-jockey who works the overnight on a radio station and who encourages them to continue with their tricks and manages to turn them into minor media celebrities. They get past all the authorities, arriving at the climax in a scene on the marquee of the Times Square theatre with hundreds of followers paying tribute.

This film is a Robert Stigwood presentation and it was produced by Stigwood and Jacob Brackman, directed by Alan Moyle, based on a story by Moyle and Leanne Unger. Kevin McCormick and John Nicollela are the executive producers and Bill Oakes is the associate producer.

THE MUSIC

At a time when movie soundtracks are among the most popular records and when they have been understood as a very important vehicle for the acceptance of a film, a new double album appears on RSO Records with the music of the movie Times Square, one of the most exciting to be released, since it not only captures the spirit of the movie, but it is also a unique collection of songs performed by today’s greatest rock artists, from both England and the United States, including Suzi Qautro, The Pretenders, Roxy Music, Gary Numan, The Talking Heads, Joe Jackson, The Patti Smith Group, XTC, The Cure, Lou Reed, The Ramones, The Ruts, David Johansen and many others. It is a spectacular album!

v

 

 

vicco, “Cine-rock : Times Square” (article), AAT ID: 300048715)
SONIDO la revista musical, No. 56, June 1981, pp. 38-39 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389)
20.2 (W) x 27.8 cm. (H), 64 pp (work);
Sonido, La Revista Musical Ano 1 Numero 56 Junio 1981 – 0001_1080px.jpg (cover)
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Sonido, La Revista Musical Ano 1 Numero 56 Junio 1981_0037_1080px.jpg (p. 38)
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SONIDO la revista musical ©1981 Corporación Editorial, S.A.

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

Film Review Vol. 31 No. 2, February 1981

Posted on 30th June 2018 in "Times Square"
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Cover (p. 1) of Film Review Vol 31 No 2 February 1981

Contents entry from Film Review Vol 31 No 2 February 1981, contents page (p. 3)  text:  47 TIMES SQUARE Adventures of two teenage girls (Robin Johnson and Trini Alvarado) and all-night disc jockey Tim Curry who gives a boost to their dream of rock stardom.

Times Square probably hadn’t had its January 15th opening yet when the February issue of Film Review came out. Unlike the article in the previous month’s issue, this isn’t a review at all, but a promotional summary of the film, with the exception of the backhanded compliment that most of the movie’s appeal is in the casting of Robin and Trini.

Film Review Vol 31 No 2 February 1981, p. 47  text:  HARD TIMES  Times Square is a movie about youth. New York and rebellion — with a prominent soundtrack of New Wave music. Two girls, from totally opposite backgrounds, find themselves thrown together in the same private ward undergoing psychiatric tests. In spite of their initial incongruity, the girls find a common link in that they have both been misunderstood for most of their young lives. In retaliation they escape their remedial surroundings and disappear into the heart of the Big Apple.  Nicky Marotta, the stronger, older and more street-wise of the two girls, instils a rebelliousness into the weaker, 12-year-old Pamela Pearl, and together they form a united attack against everything Pamela's father, and the bourgeois in general, stand for. Not before long the daring duo earn a certain infamy following a series of amusing and some rather more destructive pranks, including pilfering on the one hand and the levering of television sets off the top of New York apartment blocks on the other. With the assistance of a sympathetic DJ, the girls also gain air time and a wider notoriety, and are even allowed to sing their protest songs over the radio.  If it hadn't been for the casting of 15-year-old newcomer Robin Johnson as Nicky and Trini Alvarado (who played the lead in Robert Altman's Rich Kids) as Pamela, the film might well have lost a lot of the appeal it has. Tim Curry completes the billing as the DJ up against more than he can handle, with Peter Coffield as Pamela's short-sighted father.  Times Square is an EMI release and was directed by Alan Moyle, with songs by The Pretenders, Lou Reed, Suzi Quatro, Robin Johnson, and many others.  Times Square can also lay claim to being the first major release to present a look at New Wave music.  Tim Curry as the late-night DJ Robin Johnson as the rebellious Nicky Trini Alvarado as the introverted Pamela

HARD TIMES

Times Square is a movie about youth. New York and rebellion — with a prominent soundtrack of New Wave music. Two girls, from totally opposite backgrounds, find themselves thrown together in the same private ward undergoing psychiatric tests. In spite of their initial incongruity, the girls find a common link in that they have both been misunderstood for most of their young lives. In retaliation they escape their remedial surroundings and disappear into the heart of the Big Apple.

Nicky Marotta, the stronger, older and more street-wise of the two girls, instils a rebelliousness into the weaker, 12-year-old Pamela Pearl, and together they form a united attack against everything Pamela’s father, and the bourgeois in general, stand for. Not before long the daring duo earn a certain infamy following a series of amusing and some rather more destructive pranks, including pilfering on the one hand and the levering of television sets off the top of New York apartment blocks on the other. With the assistance of a sympathetic DJ, the girls also gain air time and a wider notoriety, and are even allowed to sing their protest songs over the radio.

If it hadn’t been for the casting of 15-year-old newcomer Robin Johnson as Nicky and Trini Alvarado (who played the lead in Robert Altman’s Rich Kids) as Pamela, the film might well have lost a lot of the appeal it has. Tim Curry completes the billing as the DJ up against more than he can handle, with Peter Coffield as Pamela’s short-sighted father.

Times Square is an EMI release and was directed by Alan Moyle, with songs by The Pretenders, Lou Reed, Suzi Quatro, Robin Johnson, and many others.

Times Square can also lay claim to being the first major release to present a look at New Wave music.

Tim Curry’s photo is UK Press Kit photo #4, which had been previously published in Mediascene Prevue Vol. 2 No. 2, Sept.-Oct. 1980, and The Aquarian, April 23-April 30 1980. Robin’s is TS-57-26/1 from the US Press Material folder, which was used for both the soundtrack album cover and the North American movie posters, and published, oh, lots of places previously. Seriously, I’m sure I’ve already listed them somewhere. Maybe next time it turns up I’ll do another reassessment, but not today.

The unusually sultry photo of Trini, however, hasn’t appeared anywhere else, as far as I know.

 

Why did I say earlier that the movie hadn’t opened yet? Because there was an ad announcing its opening on page 10.

TIMES SQUARE movie advertisement, from Film Review Vol 31 No 2 February 1981, p. 10

This is the exact same ad I posted on December 7, 2016. Yes, we now know that someone cut up a copy of this magazine and sold the pieces, and yep, I bought one. It’s a shame that these artifacts tend to be worth more sold by the half-page, but here we are.

 

(Yeah, this post should have gone up over a year ago, probably between Films Illustrated, Vol. 10 No. 113 and Movie 81 No. 2. I had everything ready to go, and somehow accidentally passed over it. Well, here it is now.)

 

The previous posts mentioned above (except for the many soundtrack and poster variants):

Film Review, Vol. 31 No. 1, January 1981
Times Square UK Press Kit (post 2 of 4)
Times Square isn’t a punk picture”
“The Trend Settles in New York”
Times Square Press Material folder (post 1 of 5)
UK Movie Ad
Films Illustrated, Vol. 10 No. 113
Movie 81 No. 2

 

 

Hard times (article, AAT ID: 300048715)
Film Review Vol. 31 No. 2, February 1981, p. 47 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389)
29.6 x 21.2 cm. (work);
1981-02 TS Film Review Feb 1981 V31 N2 – 0002_1080px.jpg
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(images)
 

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

Record World, Vol. 37 No. 1729, September 13, 1980

Posted on 1st May 2018 in "Times Square"
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Back cover of Record World Vol. 37 No. 1729, September 13, 1980, p. 126.  Text:  JUST RELEASED The Original Soundtrack from the Motion Picture TIMES  SQUARE A Robert Stigwood Production A 2-RECORD SET Featuring Music by... SUZI QUATRO, THE PRETENDERS, ROXY MUSIC, GARY NUMAN, MARCY LEVY & ROBIN GIBB, TALKING HEADS, JOE JACKSON, XTC, THE RAMONES, ROBIN JOHNSON & TRINI ALVARADO, THE RUTS, D.L. BYRON, LOU REED, DESMOND CHILD & ROUGE, GARLAND JEFFREYS, THE CURE, PATTI SMITH GROUP, DAVID JOHANSEN RS-4-4203 INCLUDES THE FIRST SINGLE: "Rock Hard" by Suzi Quatro DL-104 RSO Records, Inc. ® ©1980 RSO Records, Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most of the “new” items that turn up now are variations of things we’ve already seen. This Times Square soundtrack ad is identical to the ones shown here, but unlike those two it’s still attached to the magazine it was published in. It’s page 126, the back cover, of Record World Vol. 37 No. 1729 from September 13, 1980, a recording industry trade publication, which also has an announcement of the soundtrack on the front cover…

 

 

… and coverage of the soundtrack’s announcement at 1980’s RSO Convention, featuring an appearance by Suzi Quatro.

The most intriguing thing in the article, however, is this:

A forty-minute video presentation highlighting key scenes and music from the motion picture was shown.

There was a promotional video nearly half the length of the entire film!

This was published a month before the movie’s premiere, and only says the event happened “recently.” The five-and-a-half minute in-store soundtrack promo video contains many brief tantalizing clips of footage not in the movie… who knows what lost footage might have appeared in the RSO Convention promo video!

 

 

“Hits of the Week -Albums – “TIMES SQUARE” (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack).” (article, AAT ID: 300048715)
“‘Times Square,’ ‘Shogun’ Soundtracks Previewed at RSO National Convention” (article, AAT ID: 300048715)
[Just released – the original soundtrack from the motion picture Times Square] (advertisement, AAT ID: 300193993)
Record World, Vol. 37, No. 1729, September 13, 1980, pp. 1, 9, 118, 126 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389)
32.4 x 24.3 cm., 126 pp (work);
Record World Vol 37 No 1729 p126_back cover manual 2_1080px.jpg
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Record World ©1980 RECORD WORLD PUBLISHING CO., INC.
Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

Dolly No. 128, June 1981

Posted on 15th January 2018 in "Times Square"
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“I love to sing but whether people like to hear me, is another matter.”

The cover of Dolly No. 128, June 1981 teasing story "Robin Johnson - From High School to Hollywood"

 

 

 

Times Square was a distant memory in the US in June 1981, when Dolly No. 128 came out in Australia. Alison Gardner’s interview with Robin covers little new ground, repeating Robin’s discovery on the steps of Brooklyn Tech and her then-still upcoming movie projects, although it does add a few little terrific tidbits like the fact that her discoverer wasn’t part of the Times Square production staff; the date she was officially cast; and that the first thing she was asked to do was lose five pounds. And most tantalizing, that there were the beginnings of plans for her to record an album, to be made between Grease 2 and her third film.

 

 

 

 

 

An article about Robin in the Australian magazine Dolly (#128, June 1981).  This is pages 56 & 57, containing four color photographs not published elsewhere.  Text:  Robin Johnson - from high school to Hollywood  Seventeen-year-old Robin is every girl's dream come true ... She was "discovered" and turned into a star. One day Robin was watching films, the next day she was in them. How did it happen? Alison Gardner asked her  Bnow, 17-year-old Robin Johnson, star of the film Times Square, should need no introduction ... Even if you haven't seen the film yet, you can't possibly have missed all of the press coverage Robin received when she visited Australia a few months ago. Robin was big news in all of the papers, who were keen to tell her story and, on TV talk shows, where Robin was invited for a chat, interviewers couldn't get a word in edgeways as she recounted her rise to stardom. You see, it wasn't so much Robin's part in Times Square that everyone was interested in but how she got the part in the first place. Before Times Square, Robin had never acted in her life, not even in a school play. Now she has a three-film contract with the Robert Stigwood Organisation in America and her second film — due to start shooting later this year — is the follow-up to Grease. Robin has the female lead part opposite Andy Gibb. Stories of shy young girls being plucked from the streets and made into Hollywood stars have filled reels and reels of film but Robin's discovery — which would make a great film itself — isn't quite so saccharine-sweet. To begin with, Robin is not shy — as I soon found out when I met her. I am not the first journalist to comment on Robin's ability to talk ... and talk ... and talk, seemingly without ever pausing for breath. Robin herself knows she talks a lot but shrugs it off as if to say "So what? It's no crime". It certainly isn't a crime, not if you talk like Robin Johnson. Oh, her English isn't perfect but then, if you lived in Brooklyn (New YYork) yours wouldn't be, either. Her voice is deep and a bit hoarse and her hands fly everywhere as she speaks, which made it necessary for me to sit well away from her as we talked. But Robin is a rare species from the acting world because she is in¬teresting to talk to and totally unin¬hibited; she is witty, intelligent, cheeky, polite and great fun. She seemed to treat her sudden fame a bit like a new toy and she was having great fun playing with it ... Travelling around the world to promote Times Square gave Robin great joy and she was ready and willing to answer any questions I asked her. So, first off, how did she — a high school kid whose closest contact with showbiz was as part of the audience at the movies — get the part of the rough-and-ready Nicky Marotta? "Well, it's very conveniently Hollywood," Robin said, sounding almost disgusted with this fact. "I was literally discovered on the steps of my high school by a talent-scout. "I was standing outside the school with a friend and I heard this guy say to me: 'Would you be about 16?' I said: 'You talking to me?' I mean, what a way to approach someone! There are not too many things that are weird for New York but that's weird. "Anyway, he asked me again if I was about 16 and when I told him I was, he told me about this advertisement that was in a paper called The Village Voice for auditions for the film, Times Square. He said he thought I would be right for the part of Nicky Marotta. At first I thought the guy was a nut but he talked in detail about the film for an hour and I figured he couldn't be making it all up. "In the end, he gave me a card with a phone number on it and said if I was interested I was to phone the following Monday and ask to speak to Jake — who turned out to be the producer and screen-writer." Robin hasn't seen the guy who "discovered" her, since. She later found out that he wasn't connected with the casting for Times Square. "He hasn't even come asking for his 10 per cent fee and I'm surprised about that," Robin said. Anyway, Robin called the number that Monday and her life has never been the same since. "Before this I had never thought about acting as a career," Robin told me. "Maybe in a wild thought, like 'Gee, it would be nice to be an actress' but never seriously. Me? In a movie? You've got to be kidding. ►Dolly (incorporating Beaut) No.128, June 1981, p. 58 - 3rd page of an article about Robin Johnson - right column only (advertisements cropped out)  Text:  lose and everything to gain. I had the summer holidays stretching out in front of me and nothing to do so I was looking for ways to keep busy." Well, the auditions certainly kept Robin busy, not just for a day or a week, either . . . There was over 2000 girls auditioning for the part of Nicky Marotta but, by the end of the summer and after 20 different auditions, Robin was told she had the part. "On August 24, 1979," Robin announced, her voice taking on a very dramatic tone, "the casting agency called me and said: 'You've got the part. Now lose 4kg and we'll talk about it next week'. So, that was it — that's why I'm sitting here talking to you." The fact that Robin did get the part, that the film has been a huge success, that she — the gum-chewing, fast-talking kid from Brooklyn — has been marked as a talent to watch in the future has not knocked her off-balance one little bit. She is not, she says emphatically, impressed by Hollywood. She doesn't even like it there. "In Los Angeles the people are so laid-back, they're half dead!" Robin said. "I like the work I'm in now but I'm not overwhelmed by the people I meet and the places I get to visit. "Anyone who hasn't been involved in films thinks it's glamorous . . . But what's so glamorous about being in the Hudson River in the middle of winter? That's where I had to be for one of the scenes in Times Square! You can get typhoid and pneumonia from that! It was only 10 degrees — I thought I had frost-bite!" However, before Robin got involved in the film business, there was a lot she didn't know herself. "It's so complicated," she told me. "I didn't know that actors had to do scenes over and over again. It's a bit hard to do the same scene 15 times because it loses spontaneity. But I had a ball making the film. "I don't think I could settle in a nine till five job after this. It's so interesting. Before all of this I wanted to be a lawyer. I would have graduated from school and gone to college but now those plans have been pushed into the background." Robin's third film, which she will make after filming the sequel to Grease, has not been decided on yet. To keep her busy, though, there may be an album. "I love to sing but whether people like to hear me, is another matter," Robin said, smiling. Acting is another love of Robin's now and something that she says she didn't find very hard, despite her lack of practical experience. "I didn't think about what I was doing, I just did it," she told me. "That I didn't have to change my accent or mannerisms for the part helped, too," Robin added. Robin saw a few similarities between herself and Nicky Marotta, the main one being their rebelliousness. "All teen-agers are rebellious at some stage but I think I am permanently rebellious," Robin laughed. "I don't like authority. I can take it from my mother but no one else. "In the film, Nicky likes to do outrageous things and I have done some things like that — although not quite to Nicky's extreme. I'm more stable than Nicky is and more secure, too. I have a great family life." Unlike Nicky, too, Robin's future is definitely rosy. True, she isn't any Brooke Shields or Tatum O'Neal but then that's their problem, not Robin's . . . She has lots of talent and a style all her own and I think it's going to take her a long, long way.

Robin Johnson – from high school to Hollywood

Seventeen-year-old Robin is every girl’s dream come true … She was “discovered” and turned into a star. One day Robin was watching films, the next day she was in them. How did it happen? Alison Gardner asked her

 
By now, 17-year-old Robin Johnson, star of the film Times Square, should need no introduction … Even if you haven’t seen the film yet, you can’t possibly have missed all of the press coverage Robin received when she visited Australia a few months ago.

Robin was big news in all of the papers, who were keen to tell her story and, on TV talk shows, where Robin was invited for a chat, interviewers couldn’t get a word in edgeways as she recounted her rise to stardom.

You see, it wasn’t so much Robin’s part in Times Square that everyone was interested in but how she got the part in the first place. Before Times Square, Robin had never acted in her life, not even in a school play. Now she has a three-film contract with the Robert Stigwood Organisation in America and her second film — due to start shooting later this year — is the follow-up to Grease. Robin has the female lead part opposite Andy Gibb.

Stories of shy young girls being plucked from the streets and made into Hollywood stars have filled reels and reels of film but Robin’s discovery — which would make a great film itself — isn’t quite so saccharine-sweet.

To begin with, Robin is not shy — as I soon found out when I met her. I am not the first journalist to comment on Robin’s ability to talk … and talk … and talk, seemingly without ever pausing for breath. Robin herself knows she talks a lot but shrugs it off as if to say “So what? It’s no crime”.

It certainly isn’t a crime, not if you talk like Robin Johnson. Oh, her English isn’t perfect but then, if you lived in Brooklyn (New York) yours wouldn’t be, either. Her voice is deep and a bit hoarse and her hands fly everywhere as she speaks, which made it necessary for me to sit well away from her as we talked. But Robin is a rare species from the acting world because she is interesting to talk to and totally uninhibited; she is witty, intelligent, cheeky, polite and great fun.

She seemed to treat her sudden fame a bit like a new toy and she was having great fun playing with it … Travelling around the world to promote Times Square gave Robin great joy and she was ready and willing to answer any questions I asked her. So, first off, how did she — a high school kid whose closest contact with showbiz was as part of the audience at the movies — get the part of the rough-and-ready Nicky Marotta?

“Well, it’s very conveniently Hollywood,” Robin said, sounding almost disgusted with this fact. “I was literally discovered on the steps of my high school by a talent-scout.

“I was standing outside the school with a friend and I heard this guy say to me: ‘Would you be about 16?’ I said: ‘You talking to me?’ I mean, what a way to approach someone! There are not too many things that are weird for New York but that’s weird.

“Anyway, he asked me again if I was about 16 and when I told him I was, he told me about this advertisement that was in a paper called The Village Voice for auditions for the film, Times Square. He said he thought I would be right for the part of Nicky Marotta. At first I thought the guy was a nut but he talked in detail about the film for an hour and I figured he couldn’t be making it all up.

“In the end, he gave me a card with a phone number on it and said if I was interested I was to phone the following Monday and ask to speak to Jake — who turned out to be the producer and screen-writer.”

Robin hasn’t seen the guy who “discovered” her, since. She later found out that he wasn’t connected with the casting for Times Square. “He hasn’t even come asking for his 10 per cent fee and I’m surprised about that,” Robin said.

Anyway, Robin called the number that Monday and her life has never been the same since.

“Before this I had never thought about acting as a career,” Robin told me. “Maybe in a wild thought, like ‘Gee, it would be nice to be an actress’ but never seriously. Me? In a movie? You’ve got to be kidding.

“But when I thought about it I figured I might as well phone. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I had the summer holidays stretching out in front of me and nothing to do so I was looking for ways to keep busy.”

Well, the auditions certainly kept Robin busy, not just for a day or a week, either . . . There was over 2000 girls auditioning for the part of Nicky Marotta but, by the end of the summer and after 20 different auditions, Robin was told she had the part.

“On August 24, 1979,” Robin announced, her voice taking on a very dramatic tone, “the casting agency called me and said: ‘You’ve got the part. Now lose 4kg and we’ll talk about it next week’. So, that was it — that’s why I’m sitting here talking to you.”

The fact that Robin did get the part, that the film has been a huge success, that she — the gum-chewing, fast-talking kid from Brooklyn — has been marked as a talent to watch in the future has not knocked her off-balance one little bit. She is not, she says emphatically, impressed by Hollywood. She doesn’t even like it there.

“In Los Angeles the people are so laid-back, they’re half dead!” Robin said. “I like the work I’m in now but I’m not overwhelmed by the people I meet and the places I get to visit.

“Anyone who hasn’t been involved in films thinks it’s glamorous . . . But what’s so glamorous about being in the Hudson River in the middle of winter? That’s where I had to be for one of the scenes in Times Square! You can get typhoid and pneumonia from that! It was only 10 degrees — I thought I had frost-bite!”

However, before Robin got involved in the film business, there was a lot she didn’t know herself.

“It’s so complicated,” she told me. “I didn’t know that actors had to do scenes over and over again. It’s a bit hard to do the same scene 15 times because it loses spontaneity. But I had a ball making the film.

“I don’t think I could settle in a nine till five job after this. It’s so interesting. Before all of this I wanted to be a lawyer. I would have graduated from school and gone to college but now those plans have been pushed into the background.”

Robin’s third film, which she will make after filming the sequel to Grease, has not been decided on yet. To keep her busy, though, there may be an album.

“I love to sing but whether people like to hear me, is another matter,” Robin said, smiling.
Acting is another love of Robin’s now and something that she says she didn’t find very hard, despite her lack of practical experience.

“I didn’t think about what I was doing, I just did it,” she told me. “That I didn’t have to change my accent or mannerisms for the part helped, too,” Robin added.

Robin saw a few similarities between herself and Nicky Marotta, the main one being their rebelliousness.

“All teen-agers are rebellious at some stage but I think I am permanently rebellious,” Robin laughed. “I don’t like authority. I can take it from my mother but no one else.

“In the film, Nicky likes to do outrageous things and I have done some things like that — although not quite to Nicky’s extreme. I’m more stable than Nicky is and more secure, too. I have a great family life.”

Unlike Nicky, too, Robin’s future is definitely rosy. True, she isn’t any Brooke Shields or Tatum O’Neal but then that’s their problem, not Robin’s . . . She has lots of talent and a style all her own and I think it’s going to take her a long, long way.

Most of the articles in the magazine have a photographer credit. This one doesn’t, which is unfortunate, since the four photos of Robin accompanying the article never appeared anywhere else. At first I thought they might come from the same source as the Mirrorpix shots from March 1981, but on closer examination, I don’t think so. Her outfits are less baffling and more just 1980s in style, and most telling, the shape of her eyebrows is entirely different.

Alison Gardner has at least two other articles in this issue of Dolly, so it would seem she was one of the main staff writers, if not the main one. She vividly describes what it’s like to talk to Robin in person, but also mentions that Robin had been in Australia several months before. While it’s possible Dolly had a travel budget big enough to cover a round trip flight to New York for a story billed sixth on the cover, I think it’s more likely that the interview was actually a few months old.

But if there’s one big takeaway from this, it’s that Robin seems to have made a bigger splash in Australia than anywhere else in the world.

 

 

Alison Gardner, “Robin Johnson – from high school to Hollywood” (article), AAT ID: 300048715)
Dolly (incorporating Beaut), No. 128, June 1981, pp. 56-58 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389)
20.2 (W) x 27.8 cm. (H), 100 pp (work);
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Dolly (incorporating Beaut) ©1981 Sungravure Pty Ltd

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

 

The Australian Women’s Weekly, Vol. 48 No. 45, April 15, 1981

Posted on 13th December 2017 in "Times Square"
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Australian entertainment magazine featuring article on Robin Johnson.

 

The April 15, 1981 Australian Women’s Weekly featured Larry Hagman on the cover, a pin-up poster of Adam and the Ants on the inside back cover, and an interview with Robin on page 119. The interview goes over much the same ground as most of the previous interviews she gave: her discovery on the steps of Brooklyn Tech, her working relationships with Trini Alvarado and Tim Curry, her outspoken behavior towards all and sundry while her mom waits in the next room… This interview is maybe most notable for mentioning a television appearance on The Don Lane Show in Melbourne. I don’t suppose anyone managed to record it, back in 1981…?

 

Australian Women's Weekly, Vol 48 No. 45, April 15, 1981, p. 119 Text: Good times for Robin She’s brash, talks non-stop, chain-smokes and is the most unlikely 15-year-old movie star. Robin Johnson, who shot to stardom in the movie Times Square, is New York-born and lives not far from Times Square. Like most teenagers of the area, she’s worldly-wise and a little over-powering. “Discovered” on the steps of her school, Brooklyn High, by a talent scout who gave her the usual line about looking for someone just like her for a movie, Robin wrinkled her nose in disgust. “He gave me a number to call and it led to a screen test. I really don’t know why I rang. At the time I’d thought he was such a jerk,” Robin says. But Robert Stigwood was impressed with Robin’s personality and signed her to star in a total of three movies during the next 18 months. “There is a sequel to Grease which I’ll be doing with Andy Gibb, but it definitely won’t be a Son Of Grease or anything. It’s a sequel, but with entirely new characters, and I won’t be an Olivia Newton-John clone,” she says. The third movie is “still being shopped for” but Robin is happy to sit back and wait for it. After all, promoting her first film has taken her all over the world and she contentedly talks and talks, with her mum tactfully sitting in the next room safely out of earshot. Raising a daughter as outgoing as Robin hasn’t been easy — her mother has no say over the cigarettes or the hours Robin keeps. When she appeared on The Don Lane Show in Melbourne, even Don sat stunned while Robin alternately flicked her hair back and made outrageous remarks about the film industry or her life in general. And then there was the time she had dinner with a group of business executives to promote her movie. Promote she did — Robin talked louder and faster than anyone else. “My sister is a lot quieter than I am,” she giggles. “She doesn’t hang around the streets as much as I and some of my friends do, but we get along really well. “The movie Times Square is a little unrealistic in that Trini Alvarado (who plays Pamela Purl in the movie) and I are never approached, assaulted or mugged in any of the scenes where we walk the streets,” Robin says. “But at home, we really have to protect ourselves. You’ve got to at least have a knife on you, to use if need be.” Tim Curry, one of Britain’s top actors, who recently starred in the ABC-TV series Will Shakespeare, played the crazed disc jockey Johnny La Guardia in Times Square. How did Robin enjoy working with the classically-trained actor? It seems an uncomfortable question, and Robin paused. “He was terrific you know. Tim’s a method actor and, whereas Trini and I would clown around between takes, he’d keep to himself. “I sometimes got the impression he thought we were real silly through the movie and he’d snap at us, but that was usually before a difficult scene. Afterwards, he’d be nice and friendly and we got on fine. “The kids at school were fascinated by him because he’s something of a cult figure because of his role in the Rocky Horror Picture Show. “But he’s a real straight guy, you know, and I consider him a real friend,” Robin says. Life for Robin will not really change even if she is recognized every time she gets a bus or catches the subway in New York. She is happy to work in films, but will finish her education because “it’s important. Our school is pretty rough — racism is a terrible problem — but I’ve always kept my head down and done my work. I’m conscientious and I like to do well.” - FIONA MANNING Above left: The reflection of a misunderstood rebel, Nicky Marotta (played by Robin Johnson) in Times Square. Above: Robin is almost as brash off-screen as she is on. THE AUSTRALIAN WOMEN’S WEEKLY - TV WORLD - APRIL 15, 1981 119

Good times for Robin

She’s brash, talks non-stop, chain-smokes and is the most unlikely 15-year-old movie star. Robin Johnson, who shot to stardom in the movie Times Square, is New York-born and lives not far from Times Square. Like most teenagers of the area, she’s worldly-wise and a little over-powering.

“Discovered” on the steps of her school, Brooklyn High, by a talent scout who gave her the usual line about looking for someone just like her for a movie, Robin wrinkled her nose in disgust.

“He gave me a number to call and it led to a screen test. I really don’t know why I rang. At the time I’d thought he was such a jerk,” Robin says.
But Robert Stigwood was impressed with Robin’s personality and signed her to star in a total of three movies during the next 18 months.

“There is a sequel to Grease which I’ll be doing with Andy Gibb, but it definitely won’t be a Son Of Grease or anything. It’s a sequel, but with entirely new characters, and I won’t be an Olivia Newton-John clone,” she says.

The third movie is “still being shopped for” but Robin is happy to sit back and wait for it.

After all, promoting her first film has taken her all over the world and she contentedly talks and talks, with her mum tactfully sitting in the next room safely out of earshot.

Raising a daughter as outgoing as Robin hasn’t been easy — her mother has no say over the cigarettes or the hours Robin keeps.

When she appeared on The Don Lane Show in Melbourne, even Don sat stunned while Robin alternately flicked her hair back and made outrageous remarks about the film industry or her life in general.

And then there was the time she had dinner with a group of business executives to promote her movie. Promote she did — Robin talked louder and faster than anyone else.

“My sister is a lot quieter than I am,” she giggles. “She doesn’t hang around the streets as much as I and some of my friends do, but we get along really well.

“The movie Times Square is a little unrealistic in that Trini Alvarado (who plays Pamela Purl in the movie) and I are never approached, assaulted or mugged in any of the scenes where we walk the streets,” Robin says.

“But at home, we really have to protect ourselves. You’ve got to at least have a knife on you, to use if need be.”

Tim Curry, one of Britain’s top actors, who recently starred in the ABC-TV series Will Shakespeare, played the crazed disc jockey Johnny La Guardia in Times Square. How did Robin enjoy working with the classically-trained actor? It seems an uncomfortable question, and Robin paused. “He was terrific you know. Tim’s a method actor and, whereas Trini and I would clown around between takes, he’d keep to himself.

“I sometimes got the impression he thought we were real silly through the movie and he’d snap at us, but that was usually before a difficult scene. Afterwards, he’d be nice and friendly and we got on fine.

“The kids at school were fascinated by him because he’s something of a cult figure because of his role in the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

“But he’s a real straight guy, you know, and I consider him a real friend,” Robin says.

Life for Robin will not really change even if she is recognized every time she gets a bus or catches the subway in New York. She is happy to work in films, but will finish her education because “it’s important. Our school is pretty rough — racism is a terrible problem — but I’ve always kept my head down and done my work. I’m conscientious and I like to do well.”

– FIONA MANNING

Photo of Robin Johnson from Australian Women's Weekly, Vol 48 No. 45, April 15, 1981, p. 119.  Caption:  Robin is almost as brash off-screen as she is on..

 

 

 

The other notable thing about this article are the accompanying photos. There are very few promo photos from Times Square where the subject is looking directly at the camera, but these are two of them. One is a close-up of Robin in costume for the chase-through-the-Adonis-Theatre scene, which as far as I know was never published anywhere else. (I would love to see it uncropped; it wouldn’t surprise me if Trini was standing right next to her.)

 

Photo of Robin Johnson from Australian Women's Weekly, Vol 48 No. 45, April 15, 1981, p. 119, possibly from a deleted scene from TIMES SQUARE. Caption: The reflection of a misunderstood rebel, Nicky Marotta (played by Robin Johnson) in Times Square.

 

 

 

The other will appear later in the Japanese program book, cropped and in black and white. While it may simply be a publicity photo, I suspect it’s evidence of another sequence shot and cut from the film: the 1979 screenplay includes a scene of Nicky in a holding room, performing in front of an observation window that could easily have been redressed as a one-way mirror. Robin had described improvising a scene in front of a one-way mirror as being part of her audition, in an interview in Seventeen magazine.

I think the similarity in the titles between this and the Paul Wilson column segment in the April 1981 photoplay is a coincidence.

 

 

Fiona Manning, “Good times for Robin” (article), AAT ID: 300048715)
Australian Women’s Weekly, Vol. 48 No. 45, April 15 1981, p. 119 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389)
28.3 cm (H) x 21.5 cm (W) (work);
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The Australian Women’s Weekly ©1981 Australian Consolidated Press Ltd

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

photoplay, Vol. 32 No. 4, April 1981

Posted on 2nd December 2017 in "Times Square"
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Cover of British movie magazine featuring brief article on Robin Johnson.

 

The Paul Wilson Column (“The man you want to read every month…”) in the April 1981 photoplay contained a brief bit of publicity that was typical of the coverage Robin and Times Square was getting by now in Great Britain (where the movie had long since closed) and Australia: it admitted the movie was “not particularly good,” but crowed about her “remarkable” performance, while retelling the legend of her discovery and pushing her three-picture deal and upcoming starring role in Grease 2.

Photoplay, Vol 32 No. 4, 4 April 1981, p. 62. Part of the multi-page column by (and titled) Paul Wilson.  Text:  Good Times For Robin Johnson  • ROBIN JOHNSON was a 15-year-old standing on the steps of her school, Brooklyn High, when a mysterious stranger approached her.  “I know a part in a film you’d be ideal for,” he told her. Robin was unimpressed. But the man (to this day she doesn’t know who he was) persisted; gave her a number to call... and the rest, if it isn’t exactly history, is the stuff of teenage fiction.  Robin signed a three-film contract including the lead in Times Square, a not particularly good movie — which somehow made Robin’s performance seem all the more remarkable.  She’s 16 now, with the sense of a 30-year-old, and an astonishing gift of non-stop conversation that floods from her lips in a voice as husky as Katharine Hepburn’s.  “I do a lot of shouting in Brooklyn, maybe that’s why it’s so deep,” she says when we meet.  Brooklyn is unmistakably her home, and neither films nor wild horses will drag her away. “I love it there, and I don’t think I could take Los Angeles.”  Later this year she’ll be making the Crease sequel, with Andy Gibb as co-star. But for the time being, it’s back to school, where she’s heading for a degree, hopefully in law.  “I’m not sure I want to make acting, or singing, my full-time career. If this hadn’t happened I would have gone in for law, and I’d still like to have something to give me the choice.  “I don’t want to get locked into anything.”  Times Square star, Robin Johnson, says her husky voice is due to "a lot of shouting"

 

 

I don’t believe the quote that generated the photo caption appeared anywhere else, which implies that Wilson may have actually spoken with Robin. Other than that, however, there’s nothing new here: the publicity machine had abandoned Times Square and was focusing on Robin herself.

 

 

 

Photoplay, Vol 32 No. 4, 4 April 1981, p. 62. Part of the multi-page column by (and titled) Paul Wilson.  Text:  Good Times For Robin Johnson  • ROBIN JOHNSON was a 15-year-old standing on the steps of her school, Brooklyn High, when a mysterious stranger approached her.  “I know a part in a film you’d be ideal for,” he told her. Robin was unimpressed. But the man (to this day she doesn’t know who he was) persisted; gave her a number to call... and the rest, if it isn’t exactly history, is the stuff of teenage fiction.  Robin signed a three-film contract including the lead in Times Square, a not particularly good movie — which somehow made Robin’s performance seem all the more remarkable.  She’s 16 now, with the sense of a 30-year-old, and an astonishing gift of non-stop conversation that floods from her lips in a voice as husky as Katharine Hepburn’s.  “I do a lot of shouting in Brooklyn, maybe that’s why it’s so deep,” she says when we meet.  Brooklyn is unmistakably her home, and neither films nor wild horses will drag her away. “I love it there, and I don’t think I could take Los Angeles.”  Later this year she’ll be making the Crease sequel, with Andy Gibb as co-star. But for the time being, it’s back to school, where she’s heading for a degree, hopefully in law.  “I’m not sure I want to make acting, or singing, my full-time career. If this hadn’t happened I would have gone in for law, and I’d still like to have something to give me the choice.  “I don’t want to get locked into anything.”  Times Square star, Robin Johnson, says her husky voice is due to "a lot of shouting"

Good Times For Robin Johnson

• ROBIN JOHNSON was a 15-year-old standing on the steps of her school, Brooklyn High, when a mysterious stranger approached her.

“I know a part in a film you’d be ideal for,” he told her. Robin was unimpressed. But the man (to this day she doesn’t know who he was) persisted; gave her a number to call… and the rest, if it isn’t exactly history, is the stuff of teenage fiction.

Robin signed a three-film contract including the lead in Times Square, a not particularly good movie — which somehow made Robin’s performance seem all the more remarkable.

She’s 16 now, with the sense of a 30-year-old, and an astonishing gift of non-stop conversation that floods from her lips in a voice as husky as Katharine Hepburn’s.

“I do a lot of shouting in Brooklyn, maybe that’s why it’s so deep,” she says when we meet.

Brooklyn is unmistakably her home, and neither films nor wild horses will drag her away. “I love it there, and I don’t think I could take Los Angeles.”

Later this year she’ll be making the Grease sequel, with Andy Gibb as co-star. But for the time being, it’s back to school, where she’s heading for a degree, hopefully in law.

“I’m not sure I want to make acting, or singing, my full-time career. If this hadn’t happened I would have gone in for law, and I’d still like to have something to give me the choice.

“I don’t want to get locked into anything.”

 

 

Paul Wilson, “Good times for Robin Johnson” (excerpt from “The Paul Wilson column”) (article, AAT ID: 300048715)
photoplay, Vol. 32 No. 4, April 1981, p. 62 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389)
29.8 cm (H) x 21.3 cm (W) (work);
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photoplay ©1981 The Illustrated Publications Company Limited

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

 

Joepie, No. 365, March 15, 1981

Posted on 5th September 2017 in "Times Square"
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“Geef mij maar New Wave.”

Cover of a Belgian entertainment magazine featuring article on Robin Johnson and TIMES SQUARE.

I don’t know when Times Square opened in Belgium and the Netherlands, but the weekly entertainment magazine Joepie (which Google wants to translate for me as “Yay,” but I think is more properly “Whoopie!”), devoted two pages in its March 15, 1981 issue to an interview with Robin promoting the movie and her next role as the female lead in Grease 2.

Article from Joepie No. 365, 15 March 1981, pp. 36-37 Text (Dutch): Natuurtalent uit film «Times Square» Robin Johnson volgt Olyfje op in 'Grease 2' De donkerharige, tere Robin Johnson is nauwelijks zeventien. Toch is zij al de vedette van de veelbesproken popmuziek-film «Times Square». Maar live herkennen wij nauwelijks de schelmse kwajongen. Enkel haar krassende stem en het boeventaaltje van de Newyorkse Brooklynwijk zijn dezelfde als in de film gebleven. OPSTANDIG GEDRAG Robin zit er naast haar ma als een piekfijn geklede prinses bij. Ze stelt onze verbazing vast. «Gewoonlijk ben ik niet zo opgetut als nu», verontschuldigt zij zich, «maar zoals in de film loop ik nu ook weer niet rond». In de film is zij «Nicky», een punkmeisje, met wat men een «anti-sociaal gedrag» pleegt te noemen. In een psychiatrische instelling maakt zij kennis met Pam (Trini Alvarado), een onbegrepen rijkeluiskind. Samen besluiten zij weg te lopen. Zij stelen een ziekenwagen en verstoppen zich in een vervallen warenhuis in de buurt van Times Scjuare. Een lokale deejay trekt zich hun lot aan en onder de naam «The Sleazy Sisters» maken zij met hun anti-maatschappij songs furore. Zij worden radio- en teeveesterren, organiseren zelfs een middernachtelijk rockkonsert op Times Square, maar de politie en Pams vader wachten hen daar op... Een leuke film, wat in de stijl van «Breaking Glass» en «Quadrophenia», maar dan op zijn Amerikaans en met prachtige muziek van The Pretenders, Roxy Music, Gary Numan en Joe Jackson. SCHOOL OP HOTELKAMER Robin Johnson is een leuke jongedame, erg bij de pinken en schijnbaar nog niet door het sukses aangetast. Haar houding en gebaren zijn niet ingestudeerd. Zij zit er helemaal als een 17-jarig schoolmeisje bij. Enkel het kostschooluniform ontbreekt. «Het was overigens niet makkelijk mij op school voor de film en promo-tietoernee vrij te krijgen», vertelt Robin. «Mijn pa, nu mijn manager, heeft keihard bij de direkteur moeten pleiten. Hij liet mij alleen gaan op voorwaarde dat ik intussen een berg schooltaken zou maken. Vervelen doe ik mij niet. Straks, op mijn hotelkamer, zal ik weer de handen vol hebben met dat schoolwerk!» ONGURE KNAAP Hoe Robin de hoofdrol in «Times Square» kreeg, is een apart verhaal. «Ik was met enkele schoolvriendinnen na schooltijd op straat blijven hangen», vertelt zij, «en plots werd ik door een onbekende aangeklampt, die mij vroeg of ik zestien was. Hij stelde zich nauwelijks voor. Ik vond het eerst hoogstverdacht. Hij was op zoek naar een meisje voor een film. In New York lopen er nog van die ongure knapen rond. Hij verzekerde mij dat het allemaal netjes was en gaf mij het telefoonnummer van de prodjoeser. Ik wist eerst niet goed wat aanvangen, maar belde toch op. Ik had niets te verliezen, dacht ik. De zomervakantie stond voor de deur en ik had helemaal geen plannen». Pas na dat eerste telefoontje kwam Robin er achter dat zij in kontakt was met het machtige Stigwood-keizerrijk. Robin schitterde tijdens de autities en grote baas Stigwood zelf liet haar een kontrakt tekenen voor een hoofdrol in drie films! Na «Times Square» wordt Robin de tegenspeelster van Andy Gibb in «Grease 2». «Het gekke is,» lacht Robin «dat niemand schijnt te weten wie het mannetje is dat mij aansprak. Het kan best een door de hemel gestuurde engel zijn!» GEEN LIEF MONDJE In de film valt Robin nog op door haar onfatsoenlijk taalgebruik. Heeft ze dat aangeleerd of is het «aangeboren»? «Ik geloof dat het natuurlijk is», lacht Robin. «Van kindsbeen af werd ik op de vingers getikt omdat ik weinig lieve woordjes in mijn mond nam en mijn stem, houding en gebaren zijn inderdaad deze van een kwajongen. Ik ben altijd zo geweest. In «Grease 2» zal ik moeten uitkijken en mij wat meisjesachtiger aanstellen, maar mijn derde film wordt weer helemaal op mijn lichaam geschreven. In feite ben ik niet helemaal tevreden met de afloop van «Times Square». Het had beter gekund. De dialogen zijn soms verschrikkelijk naïef. Meisjes van zestien praten zo niet, zeker niet in New York! En wat tijdens de montage gebeurde is mij een raadsel. De film kwam bij mij verwarrend over. Bepaalde taferelen zaten helemaal niet op de plaats waar ze moesten zijn. Er werd ook wat weggeknipt in de eindmontage en dat maakt bepaalde toestanden totaal onbegrijpelijk. Over mijn eigen vertolking ben ik nochtans best tevreden. Bovendien verwachtte iedereen in Amerika dat de film het veel beter zou doen dan het geval was. Misschien werd de film wel op een verkeerd moment en op de verkeerde plaatsen in omloop gebracht. Iedereen vindt de soundtrack mieters. Persoonlijk dweep ik met de hoogstandjes in de film van Talking Heads, The Ramones, Lou Reed en The Pretenders. Dat is mijn soort muziek. Geef mij maar New Wave. In Engeland woonde ik een konsert van Roxy Music bij en ging na de voorstelling Bryan Ferry opzoeken. Toffe knul. Ik dankte hem voor zijn song («Same Old Scene») op de soundtrack. Een goeie song. Heb ik hem ook gezegd. Ook indien ik er niet zou van gehouden hebben, zou ik hem dat lekker gezegd hebben!» Dat is helemaal Robin Johnson, recht voor de raap, zonder aanmatigende houding of valse verwaandheid.

The article is accompanied by five photos. The second and fourth are familiar; the first, third, and fifth are similar but not identical to ones we’ve seen before.

An interesting thing happened as I tried to translate the article, using Google Translate to get the general sense of it, and then Reverso to try to get a more accurate, colloquial-in-context meaning out of it: it began to sound familiar. Here’s my translation; I invite any Dutch speakers to improve on it.

Natural talent from the film “Times Square”

Robin Johnson to follow Olivia in ‘Grease 2’

The dark-haired, delicate Robin Johnson is barely seventeen. Still, she is already the star of the much-discussed pop music film “Times Square.” But in person we hardly recognize the roguish bad-girl. Only her scratchy voice and street-wise lingo of New York’s Brooklyn district have remained the same as in the film.

REBELLIOUS BEHAVIOR

Robin sitting there next to her mom is an impeccably dressed princess. She notes our surprise. “Usually I’m not as dressed up like now,” she apologizes, “but I also don’t run around like in the movie.”

In the film she is “Nicky,” a punk girl, with what is usually called “anti-social behavior.” In a psychiatric hospital she is introduced to Pam (Trini Alvarado), a misunderstood rich kid. Together they decide to run away. They steal an ambulance and hide in a dilapidated warehouse near Times Square. A local deejay takes interest in their cause and under the name “The Sleaze Sisters” they cause a furor with their anti-social songs.

They are radio- and TV-stars, even organize a midnight rock concert in Times Square, but the police and Pam’s father are waiting for them there …

A fun film, something in the style of “Breaking Glass” and “Quadrophenia,” but in an American way, and with amazing music from The Pretenders, Roxy Music, Gary Numan and Joe Jackson.

SCHOOL IN HOTEL ROOM

Robin Johnson is a nice young lady, very on her toes and yet seemingly unaffected by success. Her attitude and mannerisms are not rehearsed. She’s just like a 17-year-old girl at school.

Only the boarding school uniform is missing. “It actually wasn’t easy to get free from my school for the film and promotional tour,” says Robin. “My dad, now my manager, pleaded adamantly with the director. He let me go only on condition that I do a ton of schoolwork in the meantime. Me, I won’t get bored. Later, in my hotel room, I’ll have my hands full again with schoolwork!”

SLEAZY GUY

How Robin got the starring role in “Times Square” is another story. “I was hanging around with some school friends after school, on the street,” she says, “and suddenly I was hustled by a stranger who asked me if I was sixteen. He hardly introduced himself. I found it at first highly suspicious. He was looking for a girl for a movie. In New York, there are still lots of sleazy guys around. He assured me that everything was proper and gave me the phone number of the producer. I didn’t at first, but eventually called. I had nothing to lose, I thought. Summer vacation was coming and I had no plans at all.”

Only after that first phone call did Robin find out that she was in contact with the mighty Stigwood empire. Robin shone during the auditions and big boss Stigwood himself had her sign a contract for a starring role in three films! After “Times Square” Robin is co-starring with Andy Gibb in “Grease 2.”

“It’s crazy,” laughs Robin “that no one seems to know who the man is that spoke to me. He may well be an angel sent by Heaven!”

NOT A SWEET MOUTH

In the movie Robin stands out for her indecent language. Did she learn or is it “innate”? “I think it’s natural,” laughs Robin. “From childhood I was reprimanded because of my dirty mouth and my voice, posture and gestures are definitely those of a little brat. I’ve always been like that. In “Grease 2” I will have to watch out and act girlier, but my third film will be written completely for me. In fact, I’m not entirely happy with how “Times Square” turned out. It could have been better. The dialogue is sometimes terribly naive. Sixteen-year-old girls don’t talk like that, definitely not in New York! And what happened during editing is beyond me. The film was confusing to me. Certain scenes were not in the place where they should be. There were also some cuts in the final editing, making certain situations totally incomprehensible. Bit I’me very satisfied with my own performance. Also, everyone in America expected that the film would do much better than it did. Maybe the film was distributed at the wrong time and in the wrong places. Everyone likes the terrific soundtrack. Personally I am a fan of the masterpieces in the film by Talking Heads, the Ramones, Lou Reed and The Pretenders. That’s my kind of music. Give me just New Wave. In England I attended a Roxy Music concert and after the show went to see Bryan Ferry. Cool guy. I thanked him for his song ( ‘Same Old Scene “) on the soundtrack. A good song. That’s what I told him. If I hadn’t loved it, I would have been honest!” That is totally Robin Johnson, straightforward, without posturing or false conceit.

Now have a look back at the interview she gave in the January 31, 1981 Record Mirror.

It’s entirely possible that she gave essentially the same responses to the same questions she got over and over on the publicity tour, but even aside from her statements, I found that I could get a perfectly acceptable translation of most the Dutch article by simply copying whole passages from the Record Mirror article. I didn’t, just in case, so you can be the judge of what may have happened here.

One last piece of information: although there’s no writer’s credit for the article in Joepie, buried in the magazine’s masthead on page 58 is this:

Eksklusieve rechten van het Engelse popblad «Record Mirror». Overname (ook gedeeltelijk) verboden.

… which would seem to translate to “Exclusive rights to the English pop music magazine “Record Mirror”. Reproduction (in whole or in part) prohibited.”

So, it seems to me that Joepie ran a translation of Mike Nicholls’ interview from two months previous, and Robin’s publicity tour didn’t actually make it to Belgium.

Lastly, here for your further analysis is the original Dutch text. I’ve tried to correct any OCR-created typos, but I probably didn’t get them all.

Natuurtalent uit film «Times Square»

Robin Johnson volgt Olyfje op in ‘Grease 2’

De donkerharige, tere Robin Johnson is nauwelijks zeventien. Toch is zij al de vedette van de veelbesproken popmuziek-film «Times Square». Maar live herkennen wij nauwelijks de schelmse kwajongen. Enkel haar krassende stem en het boeventaaltje van de Newyorkse Brooklynwijk zijn dezelfde als in de film gebleven.

OPSTANDIG GEDRAG

Robin zit er naast haar ma als een piekfijn geklede prinses bij. Ze stelt onze verbazing vast. «Gewoonlijk ben ik niet zo opgetut als nu», verontschuldigt zij zich, «maar zoals in de film loop ik nu ook weer niet rond».

In de film is zij «Nicky», een punkmeisje, met wat men een «anti-sociaal gedrag» pleegt te noemen. In een psychiatrische instelling maakt zij kennis met Pam (Trini Alvarado), een onbegrepen rijkeluiskind. Samen besluiten zij weg te lopen. Zij stelen een ziekenwagen en verstoppen zich in een vervallen warenhuis in de buurt van Times Square. Een lokale deejay trekt zich hun lot aan en onder de naam «The Sleazy Sisters» maken zij met hun anti-maatschappij songs furore. Zij worden radio- en teeveesterren, organiseren zelfs een middernachtelijk rockkonsert op Times Square, maar de politie en Pams vader wachten hen daar op…

Een leuke film, wat in de stijl van «Breaking Glass» en «Quadrophenia», maar dan op zijn Amerikaans en met prachtige muziek van The Pretenders, Roxy Music, Gary Numan en Joe Jackson.

SCHOOL OP HOTELKAMER

Robin Johnson is een leuke jongedame, erg bij de pinken en schijnbaar nog niet door het sukses aangetast. Haar houding en gebaren zijn niet ingestudeerd. Zij zit er helemaal als een 17-jarig schoolmeisje bij.

Enkel het kostschooluniform ontbreekt. «Het was overigens niet makkelijk mij op school voor de film en promo-tietoernee vrij te krijgen», vertelt Robin. «Mijn pa, nu mijn manager, heeft keihard bij de direkteur moeten pleiten. Hij liet mij alleen gaan op voorwaarde dat ik intussen een berg schooltaken zou maken. Vervelen doe ik mij niet. Straks, op mijn hotelkamer, zal ik weer de handen vol hebben met dat schoolwerk!»

ONGURE KNAAP

Hoe Robin de hoofdrol in «Times Square» kreeg, is een apart verhaal. «Ik was met enkele schoolvriendinnen na schooltijd op straat blijven hangen», vertelt zij, «en plots werd ik door een onbekende aangeklampt, die mij vroeg of ik zestien was. Hij stelde zich nauwelijks voor. Ik vond het eerst hoogstverdacht. Hij was op zoek naar een meisje voor een film. In New York lopen er nog van die ongure knapen rond. Hij verzekerde mij dat het allemaal netjes was en gaf mij het telefoonnummer van de prodjoeser. Ik wist eerst niet goed wat aanvangen, maar belde toch op. Ik had niets te verliezen, dacht ik. De zomervakantie stond voor de deur en ik had helemaal geen plannen».

Pas na dat eerste telefoontje kwam Robin er achter dat zij in kontakt was met het machtige Stigwood-keizerrijk. Robin schitterde tijdens de autities en grote baas Stigwood zelf liet haar een kontrakt tekenen voor een hoofdrol in drie films! Na «Times Square» wordt Robin de tegenspeelster van Andy Gibb in «Grease 2».

«Het gekke is,» lacht Robin «dat niemand schijnt te weten wie het mannetje is dat mij aansprak. Het kan best een door de hemel gestuurde engel zijn!»

GEEN LIEF MONDJE

In de film valt Robin nog op door haar onfatsoenlijk taalgebruik. Heeft ze dat aangeleerd of is het «aangeboren»? «Ik geloof dat het natuurlijk is», lacht Robin. «Van kindsbeen af werd ik op de vingers getikt omdat ik weinig lieve woordjes in mijn mond nam en mijn stem, houding en gebaren zijn inderdaad deze van een kwajongen. Ik ben altijd zo geweest. In «Grease 2» zal ik moeten uitkijken en mij wat meisjesachtiger aanstellen, maar mijn derde film wordt weer helemaal op mijn lichaam geschreven. In feite ben ik niet helemaal tevreden met de afloop van «Times Square». Het had beter gekund. De dialogen zijn soms verschrikkelijk naïef. Meisjes van zestien praten zo niet, zeker niet in New York! En wat tijdens de montage gebeurde is mij een raadsel. De film kwam bij mij verwarrend over. Bepaalde taferelen zaten helemaal niet op de plaats waar ze moesten zijn. Er werd ook wat weggeknipt in de eindmontage en dat maakt bepaalde toestanden totaal onbegrijpelijk. Over mijn eigen vertolking ben ik nochtans best tevreden. Bovendien verwachtte iedereen in Amerika dat de film het veel beter zou doen dan het geval was. Misschien werd de film wel op een verkeerd moment en op de verkeerde plaatsen in omloop gebracht. Iedereen vindt de soundtrack mieters. Persoonlijk dweep ik met de hoogstandjes in de film van Talking Heads, The Ramones, Lou Reed en The Pretenders. Dat is mijn soort muziek. Geef mij maar New Wave. In Engeland woonde ik een konsert van Roxy Music bij en ging na de voorstelling Bryan Ferry opzoeken. Toffe knul. Ik dankte hem voor zijn song («Same Old Scene») op de soundtrack. Een goeie song. Heb ik hem ook gezegd. Ook indien ik er niet zou van gehouden hebben, zou ik hem dat lekker gezegd hebben!» Dat is helemaal Robin Johnson, recht voor de raap, zonder aanmatigende houding of valse verwaandheid.

 

 


Joepie, No. 365, March 15 1981 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389) ; 26.5 x 20 cm.; (contains:)
Natuurtalent uit film «Times Square» – Robin Johnson volgt Olyfje op in ‘Grease 2’
(article (document), AAT ID: 300048715), pp. 36-37 (work);
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©1981 N.V. Sparta te Deurne


 

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Films Illustrated Vol. 10 No. 114, March 1981

Posted on 25th August 2017 in "Times Square"
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UK film magazine with a three-page in-depth review of TIMES SQUARE

In the February 1981 Films Illustrated, David Quinlan took a paragraph to give Times Square a three-star review, saying essentially that it’s a decent popcorn movie in spite of its many flaws. In this next issue, Douglas Slater takes three full pages to give Times Square one of its best reviews ever, finding it to be a timeless coming-of-age story not merely in spite of, but because of those very same flaws.

He doesn’t touch on the continuity problems that Robin herself complained about loud and long in interviews, but acknowledges the unreality of portraying Times Square as a runaway’s playground, and finds it necessary for the film to tell its story, which he sees as indeed a fairy-tale. He also sees Times Square‘s intended audience as being intelligent enough to tell the difference between real-world dangers and a fictional film setting.

Mr. Slater examines Times Square through the lens of the oeuvre of Robert Stigwood, which is essentially and inescapably exploitative. The only reasons for his movies’ existences are as advertisements for ancillary merchandise: soundtracks, posters, t-shirts, and the like, and his greatest artistic successes occur when Stigwood assembles such a commercial package and stands out of the way of the filmmakers and lets them make the film they want.

Mr. Slater counts Times Square as an artistic success which balances its criticism of society against its audience’s attitude and attention span, but in hindsight we know that that’s not exactly what happened. Stigwood’s meddling in the movie’s production in order to maximize its commerciality caused director Allan Moyle to leave before the project’s completion… and this caused the toning-down of the dangers the runaways faced in the screenplay (fixing the problem Slater says the UK censors had with Saturday Night Fever) and created a great deal of the fairy-tale unreality Slater finds such value in (as do I, to be honest).

This review probably came out after Times Square had closed in the UK. It had bombed there and in the US, so whether it was a quality film was irrelevant. Stigwood had known this from the start, and had probably made a fortune off the soundtrack album, but the film’s rapid disappearance from theaters was probably a cue not to try to capitalize with any other merchandise. It also gave Times Square a reputation as a lousy movie, a reputation that took years to rehabilitate, which happened primarily thanks to a segment of its audience who found themselves spoken to by a particular aspect of the film that has so far not been mentioned by any reviewer (I think). (A no-prize to whoever first identifies what that is.)

And it also certainly contributed to the next phase of Robin’s career, but we’re not there yet. In March 1981 she was still looking forward to starring in Grease 2.

Unfortunately, the three-page article was billed as an overview of Stigwood’s films, and so instead of a collection of stills from Times Square, we get one, and two from Saturday Night Fever. The picture of Robin is another look at the first Times Square publicity still, which had been published exactly a year previously in Screen International No. 231.

PROFIT WITHOUT HONOUR

Douglas Slater looks back on the films of Robert Stigwood from the vantage point of ‘Times Square’

THE first screen credit in Times Square is that of Robert Stigwood. That is appropriate enough. Some films are defined by their stars, some by their directors, but a Stigwood production is defined by Stigwood. He is the producer as auteur.

It is tempting to allow suspicions about motive to colour one’s opinion of a Stigwood production. There’s nothing wrong with the profit motive of course and the commercial cinema certainly produces no higher proportion of bad films than the art cinema. But Stigwood’s films are so carefully and obviously geared to their market, so blatantly set on exploiting the goldmines of promotional material (the record, T-shirt, cut-out-dance-step of the movie) that one begins to suspect that their producer has no real love of movies mixed in with his profit motive, but only a cynical appreciation of the marketing powers of the medium.

Such suspicions are irrelevant, however partly because motive has little to do with producing interesting work, and partly because Robert Stigwood has produced one or two very interesting movies, most notably Saturday Night Fever. So it is good to report that, whatever his motive, Times Square does him no discredit.

The outline is simple. Two young girls are put into a neurological hospital for tests: one, Pamela (Trini Alvarado), by a caring but domineering and busy father, and the other, Nicky (Robin Johnson), by a caring but domineering and busy welfare system. What the two want is self-expression and so, in spite of their different backgrounds, they escape together and live a symbolically self-expressive life around Times Square, watched over by Johnny LaGuardia (Tim Curry), a pretentiously cynical disc-jockey left over from the 70s.

The obvious criticism to make of this plot turns on its sentimentality. It makes the corrupt heart of the most notorious city in the world into a playground for two young girls. Nothing nasty happens to them — no violence, no rape, no drugs. They are hardly even bothered by the police who are looking for them. In fact, the only person who gets violent is the caring liberal father. The sentimentality arises out of the lack of realism in an apparently realistic portrait of New York. Cinema tends more and more towards realism, and audiences take it ever more for granted, so that all the fictional and unrealistic aspects of films — all the things that make them art more than documentary — are ignored. The resulting false logic is that, if a film can be criticised as being in some way unrealistic, then it’s a bad film. Whereas in reality, of course, films are always falsifying things, and have a much more complicated relationship with real life than the audience is meant to realise. Films always have to falsify real life in some way in order to be true to it in others. The most apparently straightforward and realistic films are often the most dishonest.

Times Square is a good example of this. There is a complicated relationship between the movie and “real” New York, even though the end credits announce so proudly that the film was “shot entirely on location in New York City.”

For it is a mistake to see Times Square as simply a teenage version of the same old realistic movie about street-wise New York. It’s just as much a fable, as old as the hills, about Never-Never Land masquerading as New York. Children have always run away to live idealised existences: ever since Wendy jumped out of the window with Peter Pan, or Oliver Twist to London, or Dorothy was blown to the land of the munchkins in The Wizard of Oz. Some of these fables have had children surviving pretty tough environments, too; like Oliver and the Artful Dodger or Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

The idea has survived so long and been so successful because it is the great myth of growing up and leaving the nest. To make that an exciting prospect, the outside world has to be dangerous, but to make it possible the dangers have to be ones the fledglings can conquer, even if they terrify their parents in the process.

The bored Johnny LaGuardia is part of the fable, too, for all his obvious affinity to the blind DJ in Vanishing Point. He aspires to the role of the good fairy, although he is sometimes seen by the two runaways as more like the Wicked Witch of the West. Fables aren’t simple any more. No-one sees the world as black and white without being dishonest. So Johnny LaGuardia isn’t just a hero. He’s an exploiter as well. In the end Pamela, who started out by adoring him, hates him.

That type of ambiguity is part of the contemporary dress of Times Square. There are no simple goodies and baddies, and everyone — no matter how young — has personality problems which they explore and agonise over with the help of their friends and doctors.

A fable has to touch on the real world, otherwise it’s pointless. Good fables are relevant; bad ones are sugary and escapist. The closer the world of the fable is to the real one the better. And the strength of Times Square is that it has brought a very traditional story into contact with a number of modem issues.

It is how it has done that which is interesting; because, frankly, a film that set out to exploit the teenage market with a fable about runaways in New York could have been ghastly, just AA certificate Walt Disney with all the good bits left out. Robert Stigwood made a mistake with his audience with Saturday Night Fever. It tackled its issues too robustly, and the censor removed it from many of the age-group who were its natural audience. Stigwood was obviously determined not to make the same mistake with Times Square. That is presumably what determined the film’s stars, its attitude to New York, and its plot. What is surprising is that it manages to be relatively truthful.

That it can be so is largely the result of the fact that both its stars and its audience are older for their ages than people were even when Saturday Night Fever was made. That has made it possible to take the real nature of New York for granted. The audience knows it all. Thus, the dangers of Times Square are not romanticised out of existence so much as countered by the character of Nicky. She is actually one of the predators of New York rather than a victim.

Nicky is a development of the tough cookie persona pioneered by Tatum O’Neal and Jodie Foster. Tennis stars and gymnasts are not the only adults who are getting younger. Movie heroines are right up there with them. Nor is Nicky just an ordinary precocious child. Robin Johnson is a remarkable discovery, whose voice has a range Tallulah Bankhead would have envied.

And it isn’t just Nicky who is older. Even her ultra-sheltered and cosseted companion hardly blinks at places that would horrify a lot of adults. There is much talk in the film about “X-rated streets.” The two move through these streets, with their audience, preserving their characters (innocence is too cosy a word) not because they don’t see what the streets are like, but because they don’t care.

That is what has allowed Alan Moyle, who directed Stigwood’s picture, and is credited with the story, and Jacob Brackman, who wrote it and co-produced, to strike a brave balance with the censor, and show as much of the real Times Square as they do. Thus there are swift shots of stoned tramps, topless dancers and even a transvestite or two; all no more and no less than essential local colour, but nevertheless likely to upset middle-aged sensibilities.

In fact Times Square is just another film using New York as the paradigmatic city; the great theme of all those New York movies of the last ten years or so. What Times Square does that is a little original is to focus on that trendiest of issues, inner urban decay. It even makes Pamela’s politician father, (Peter Coffield), the Mayor’s Commissioner for the Campaign to Reclaim the Heart of the City.

Since this is such a vital issue — in America as much as Europe — it is rather cheeky that the movie reverses conventional wisdom on it. There is no truck with those who want to clean up the squalor of Times Square. Pamela taunts her father over the radio with his plans for making the area antiseptic. For Pamela and Nicky, Times Square provides warmth and vitality and a chance to be themselves; and presumably some of the wisdom that the father learns at his daughter’s hands is that vice has its virtues.

Certainly it is decent liberal parents and doctors who are the villains of the piece, in that there are any villains. Times Square is meant to appeal to the rebellious adolescent who has pocket money to stay out late and go to the movies and buy records and T-shirts. That is what makes adult respectability the enemy.

The question is whether the movie is merely exploiting its audience when it plays this card, or whether it is actually entertaining them with vital issues. After all, if it could be proved that Times Square had actually encouraged thirteen year-olds to run away in large numbers to the apparent warmth of areas like Times Square and Soho, then it would at best have been a place of pie-in-the-sky escapism of the nastiest sort, and at worst criminally irresponsible.

But the film isn’t like that. Its quality as a fable should be clear enough to anyone old enough to watch television. It won’t appeal to its audience because it shows little bits of naughty New York, but because it examines some things that may be more real to them than to their elders. What raises Times Square beyond a banal story of teenage revolt in the big city is that it tries to suggest some reasons for that revolt which are not unintelligent. (That was the good thing about Saturday Night Fever too).

The clearest sign of this attempt at intelligence is an entirely unexpected quotation from T S Eliot which is produced by Pamela to Nicky as they prepare their improvised home. The quotation makes no sense to Nicky, but we have been served warning from then on that the general intellectual angst of New York extends to these characters too.

The film makes a lot of references, in fact, and one or two of them are particularly telling. The soundtrack, for instance, contains many hits of the last few years that are precisely what one hears booming out of ubiquitous cassette players; precisely the music that has helped form the moods (more than the ideas) of the characters. These are moods which should be recognised by British audiences too. Like other Stigwood films, Times Square makes as much use of British music as it does of American.

Indeed, the most explicit references to any band in the movie are to the Rolling Stones, though they are not represented on the soundtrack. Brian Jones, the member of the Stones who committed suicide, is an important symbol to the violent and hopeless Nicky, who doesn’t expect to live beyond twenty-one anyway, and so is self- destructively cramming all her living in now.

What is more, Nicky is a Mick Jagger look- alike, and adopts many of Jagger’s mannerisms in her stage performance. The end of the film is extraordinary for the overall imitation of the Stones which is given by Nicky and her backing group (called the Blondels) who have been ridiculously cocktail-lounge and fake-ocelot up to then. One of the Blondels even looks like Brian Jones.

The relevance of the Rolling Stones to the film goes deeper, since the violence and alienation of Nicky (which is distinctly subpunk) is probably traceable to the Stones in the late ’60s, when they were matching the optimism of the Beatles with nihilism. Pamela was supposedly born in 1967, so that she and Nicky are, each in her different way, the post-Stones generation.

It may seem far-fetched to suggest that Times Square has any elements of such serious import as the urban alienation of the young, or the development of longterm cultural repercussions from the music and attitudes of a decade ago. But it is borne out by the most bizarre and outrageously symbolic of Pamela and Nicky’s actions: their gimmick of tipping television sets off high buildings.

Two things make this significant. First, it’s not a trick dreamed up by the moviemakers: kids have done it on British high-rise estates already. Secondly, it isn’t merely a random action that is the same as tipping anything large and expensive off a high building. It is underlined in the script by Johnny LaGuardia — “apathy, banality, boredom, television . . .”. In fact, the film goes out of its way to show a boring middle-class home with the father sitting reading the television schedule while his daughters tip the set out of the window.

What does it mean? Well, it has been a claim of Woody Allen’s for some while that television systematically degrades the quality of life. It represents middle-class respectability and inaction. That’s so far been an interesting idea for disgruntled intellectuals. It may be more arresting than it seems if someone now expects the audience of a popular youth-oriented film to react to it automatically. And it is certainly effective even when one knows what is coming — shots of television sets sailing elegantly through the air and smashing on to pavements are curiously exhilerating.

Detail of p. 233 of Films Illustrated Vol 10 No. 114, March 1981. Text: Times Square: Robin Johnson Robin Johnson is a remarkable discovery, whose voice has a range Tallulah Bankhead would have envied.There is no question, however, of Times Square being a serious study of these ideas. Why should it be? Its audience wouldn’t like it, and so neither would its producers. They are just thrown in to egg the pudding. These are ideas that are floating about, that may strike a chord with their audience. They make the movie more intersting, and even give it the negative advantage of not tying up any answers in a pretentious little package.

It is certainly these ideas that give Times Square its zest. Otherwise it might have been downright tedious as, in places, it unfortunately is. When it goes wrong, the movie is almost inept enough to make one wonder whether the good bits wandered in by accident. That is to go back to the blind alley of motive, though. As long as Robert Stigwood continues to encourage his directors and writers to sell his movies by throwing all the ideas they can come up with at their audience, his films will be worth checking out. The real exploitation of audiences is by formulaic nonsense that attempts to repeat the same old success. It hardly ever works, as Mr Stigwood realises. That’s what makes his blatant pursuit of successes so tolerable.

 

 


Films Illustrated, Vol. 10 No. 114, March 1981 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389) ; 29.7 x 20.9 cm; (contains:)
Profit without honour (review (document), AAT ID: 300026480), pp. 233-235 (work);
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©1981 Illustrated Publications Limited


 

Time Out No. 567, February 25, 1981

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Nobody likes to think they’re being used’

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

Did you want to be an actress?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did the scenes that they cut have anything in common?

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

Were you consulted at all about that?

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

Were you pissed off about that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God I hate her. She’s so boring.

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

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

Part I

Suffer The Little Children

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

ILLUSTRATIONS BY SU HUNTLEY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 


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


 

Movie 81 No. 2, February 1981

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

TIMES SQUARE
AN APPRAISAL BY TERRY O BRIEN

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

Producers: Robert Stigwood
Jacob Brackman
Director: Allan Moyle

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 


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