Films Illustrated Vol. 10 No. 114, March 1981

Posted on 25th August 2017 in "Times Square"
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrShare on RedditPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someone

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);
Films_Illustrated_Vol10_No114_1981-03-01_cover_1080px.jpg
1080 x 761 px px, 96 dpi, 531 kb
Films_Illustrated_Vol_10_No_114_1981-03-01_p 233_1080px.jpg
1080 x 756 px, 96 dpi, 461 kb (images)
Films_Illustrated_Vol_10_No_114_1981-03-01_p 234_1080px.jpg
1080 x 753 px, 96 dpi, 447 kb (images)
Films_Illustrated_Vol_10_No_114_1981-03-01_p 235_1080px.jpg
1080 x 759 px, 96 dpi, 415 kb (images)
p 233_image_display_1080.jpg
1080 x 887 px, 96 dpi, 394 kb (images)

©1981 Illustrated Publications Limited


 

Films Illustrated, Vol. 10 No. 113, February 1981

Posted on 9th June 2017 in "Times Square"
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrShare on RedditPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someone
“If the story sounds as though it makes sense, it doesn’t…”

Cover of Films Illustrated, Vol. 10 No. 113, February 1981

 

 

This was dated February but was probably on the stands while Times Square was still in theaters. EMI certainly expected it to be so, judging by the advertisement that appeared on page 162.

Half-page ad for "Times Square"

 

It’s almost identical to the ad that ran in Record Mirror, probably at the same time.

Page 177 contained a review of the movie by David Quinlan, accompanied by one of the photos Mick Rock doesn’t really remember taking of Robin. Mr. Quinlan’s review is typically fair for the time: it’s a bad movie that nevertheless has something genuinely affecting in it, rooted in “the gutsy performances of the girls themselves,” particularly Trini, bless his heart.

A photo of Robin Johnson as Nicky taken by Mick Rock accompanies the review.  Text:  TIMES SQUARE (X). Despite a silly story that never begins to hang together, Times Square gets by on youthful raw energy, another pre-sold LP background score of new wave music, and the inter-relationship between its two young female stars, gravel-voiced Robin Johnson as the backstreets fifteen year-old and especially thirteen year-old Trini Alvarado, who gives a warm and understanding performance as the repressed daughter of an eager-beaver young politician. Committed for hospital observation under very different circumstances, the girls run away together and form a duo against society, calling themselves The Sleez Sisters. With the help of an independent-minded DJ (overplayed by Tim Curry), they become cult figures and, for a brief while, a national news item. If the story sounds as though it makes sense, it doesn’t in the actual relation of events on screen, which are pure fantasy (with treatment to match) and have no basis in real life, apart from the gutsy performances of the girls themselves, which at times make one care more than was probably the script’s intention. The music is a knock-out, and the end may find you groping furtively and reluctantly for a handkerchief. — D.Q. (Prod/Robert Stigwood, Jacob Brackman. Scr/Jacob Brackman. Dir/Alan Moyle. Ph/James A Contner. Technicolor. Ill mins. EMI. US 1980)

TIMES SQUARE (X). Despite a silly story that never begins to hang together, Times Square gets by on youthful raw energy, another pre-sold LP background score of new wave music, and the inter-relationship between its two young female stars, gravel-voiced Robin Johnson as the backstreets fifteen year-old and especially thirteen year-old Trini Alvarado, who gives a warm and understanding performance as the repressed daughter of an eager-beaver young politician. Committed for hospital observation under very different circumstances, the girls run away together and form a duo against society, calling themselves The Sleez Sisters. With the help of an independent-minded DJ (overplayed by Tim Curry), they become cult figures and, for a brief while, a national news item. If the story sounds as though it makes sense, it doesn’t in the actual relation of events on screen, which are pure fantasy (with treatment to match) and have no basis in real life, apart from the gutsy performances of the girls themselves, which at times make one care more than was probably the script’s intention. The music is a knock-out, and the end may find you groping furtively and reluctantly for a handkerchief. — D.Q. (Prod/Robert Stigwood, Jacob Brackman. Scr/Jacob Brackman. Dir/Alan Moyle. Ph/James A Contner. Technicolor. Ill mins. EMI. US 1980)

Chart of reviews of newly opened movies; "Times Square" has one 3-star and one 1-star review

 

 

On page 178, we find that Mr. Quinlan gave Times Square 3 stars, and his colleague Rosemary Stirling gave it only one. Perhaps we should be glad she didn’t write the review the magazine printed. Perhaps it would have been interesting to see what she might have had to say about it.

 

 

 


Films Illustrated, Vol 10 No. 113, February 1981 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389) ; 29.7 x 20.9 cm; (contains:)
[Times Square movie advertisement], (advertisement, AAT ID: 300193993), p. 113
David Quinlan, “Times Square” (review (document), AAT ID: 300026480), p.177
[Review grid] (review (document), AAT ID: 300026480), p.178 (work)

 

1981-02 Films Illustrated Vol 10 No 113 p161_layers_1080px.jpg
1080 x 760 px, 96 dpi, 575 kb
1981-02 Films Illustrated Vol 10 No 113 p162_detail_1080px.jpg
784 x 1080 px, 96 dpi, 377 kb
1981-02 Films Illustrated Vol 10 No 113 p177_detail_1080px.jpg
1080 x 579 px, 96 dpi, 245 kb
1981-02 Films Illustrated Vol 10 No 113 p178_detail_800px.jpg
412 x 800 px, 96 dpi, 124 kb (images)

 

©1981 Illustrated Publications Limited

 

 

New Musical Express, 24 January 1981

Posted on 13th March 2017 in "Times Square"
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrShare on RedditPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someone

Cover of NME 24-1-1981, featuring The Jam.  Issue has a review of "Times Square" on pp 14-15.

 

“No, this won’t do.”

 

Monty Smith’s review of Times Square is true to form, giving some light praise to Robin’s and Trini’s performances while tearing the movie itself to shreds. Although he does sometimes go a bit over the top with a particularly English-flavored cooler-than-thou sneering (“a real stiff for the kids, a would-be ‘punk’ epic, three years too late and twice as tasteless”), he does have a bead on exactly what’s causing the film’s problems (“they seem to have been stymied by the prerequisites of marketing… [that’s] what you get for your double album — sorry, film…”)

Review of TIMES SQUARE in New Muscial Express, 24 January 1981, Edit of Pages 14 and 15.  Text:  Page 14 — New Musical Express 24th January, 1981  In a desperate rebellious gesture, Robin Johnson prepares to plummet to the ground three and a half feet below. Behind the times Times Square Directed by Alan Moyle Starring Robin Johnson, Trini Alvarado and Tim Curry (EMI) SO AFTER Grease and Saturday Night Fever, the Stigwood outfit delivers a real stiff for the kids, a would-be 'punk' epic, three years too late and twice as tasteless. This time around, what you get for your double album — sorry, film — is a couple of teenage tearaways doing a bunk from a New York neurological hospital and setting up a squat by a derelict pier. That they are both eminently suitable cases for treatment seems lost on early-hours DJ Johnny LaGuardia, who takes up their cause. Publicly, he mocks the authorities' feeble attempts to find the two girls; privately, he's grooming them for their fifteen minutes of stardom. The Sleaze Sisters are born! And they're not so bad: Robin Johnson as 16-year-old Nicky Marotta is all foul-mouth and fiery temper ("I'm sure her childhood was a complete disaster but that's not the point," says one typically concerned adult), an abrasive-looking ragamuffin who happens to talk like Jimmy Durante; Trini Alvarado as 13-year-old Pamela Pearl is all capped-teeth and catatonic trances (she's the well brought-up one who keeps a diary), an angelic-featured kewpie-doll who could pass for the Mona Lisa's daughter. Believe it or not, they go together well. But Times Square falls apart as soon as Nicky and Pam hit the streets of the city so nice they named it twice. It's all very well plumping for life over TV, vitality over manners and slime over plastic, but I don't think the various pimps, winos, prostitutes and junkies they rub shoulders with would put too much faith in credentials as limp as these. And as for Tim Curry's extraordinary performance as DJ La Guardia ... the hoots of derision that greeted his every solemn utterance, his every knit of brow and pout of lip (denoting his concern for the girls' welfare), could not have been much less loud than those at the opening night of O'Toole's Macbeth. No, this won't do. The writer and director have both before been involved in 'proper' films (The King Of Marvin Gardens, Days Of Heaven, Outrageous, Montreal Main) but here they seem to have been stymied by the prerequisites of marketing. Not only with the soundtrack — and by all means chuck in songs as incongruous as those by Gary Numan and the Ruts, but Talking Heads' 'Life During Wartime' sits mighty uneasily with the feeble on-screen fairy tale — also with the risible climax in which scores of Sleaze Sister lookalikes emerge, lemming-style, from the surburbs for a free midnight gig, man: "We are one minute from history," says LaGuardia, and we all broke up again. Honestly, it's just like The Brady Bunch, but with swear words and a few chewns. Monty Smith

Behind the times

Times Square
Directed by Alan Moyle
Starring Robin Johnson,
Trini Alvarado and Tim Curry
(EMI)

SO AFTER Grease and Saturday Night Fever, the Stigwood outfit delivers a real stiff for the kids, a would-be ‘punk’ epic, three years too late and twice as tasteless.

This time around, what you get for your double album — sorry, film — is a couple of teenage tearaways doing a bunk from a New York neurological hospital and setting up a squat by a derelict pier. That they are both eminently suitable cases for treatment seems lost on early-hours DJ Johnny LaGuardia, who takes up their cause. Publicly, he mocks the authorities’ feeble attempts to find the two girls; privately, he’s grooming them for their fifteen minutes of stardom. The Sleaze Sisters are born!

And they’re not so bad: Robin Johnson as 16-year-old Nicky Marotta is all foul-mouth and fiery temper (“I’m sure her childhood was a complete disaster but that’s not the point,” says one typically concerned adult), an abrasive-looking ragamuffin who happens to talk like Jimmy Durante; Trini Alvarado as 13-year-old Pamela Pearl is all capped-teeth and catatonic trances (she’s the well brought-up one who keeps a diary), an angelic-featured kewpie-doll who could pass for the Mona Lisa’s daughter. Believe it or not, they go together well.

But Times Square falls apart as soon as Nicky and Pam hit the streets of the city so nice they named it twice. It’s all very well plumping for life over TV, vitality over manners and slime over plastic, but l don’t think the various pimps, winos, prostitutes and junkies they rub shoulders with would put too much faith in credentials as limp as these. And as for Tim Curry’s extraordinary performance as DJ La Guardia … the hoots of derision that greeted his every solemn utterance, his every knit of brow and pout of lip (denoting his concern for the girls’ welfare), could not have been much less loud than those at the opening night of O’Toole’s Macbeth.

No, this won’t do. The writer and director have both before been involved in ‘proper’ films (The King Of Marvin Gardens, Days Of Heaven, Outrageous, Montreal Main) but here they seem to have been stymied by the prerequisites of marketing. Not only with the soundtrack — and by all means chuck in songs as incongruous as those by Gary Numan and the Ruts, but Talking Heads’ ‘Life During Wartime’ sits mighty uneasily with the feeble on-screen fairy tale — also with the risible climax in which scores of Sleaze Sister lookalikes emerge, lemming-style, from the surburbs for a free midnight gig, man: “We are one minute from history,” says LaGuardia, and we all broke up again.

Honestly, it’s just like The Brady Bunch, but with swear words and a few chewns.

Monty Smith

The Box Office chart, with listings borrowed from our old friend Screen International, shows (what else?) Flash Gordon at the top.

Photo accompanying review of TIMES SQUARE in New Muscial Express, 24 January 1981, page 14.  Caption: In a desperate rebellious gesture, Robin Johnson prepares to plummet to the ground three and a half feet below.   Text:  Page 14 — New Musical Express 24th January, 1981  I

In a desperate rebellious gesture, Robin Johnson prepares to plummet to the ground three and a half feet below.

 

The photo accompanying the review seems to have been taken at the same time as TS-28-28/7, but as of this writing I don’t believe it appeared anywhere else but here.

 

 

Monty Smith, “Behind the times” (review (document), AAT ID: 300026480)
New Musical Express, January 24, 1981, pp. 14-15 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389)
17 in (H) x 11 in (W) (work);
1981-01-24 TS NME 24 Jan 1981 2012 scan ABBYY 12 – 0001_2_1080px.jpg (cover)
1080 px (H) x 699 px (W), 96 dpi, 437 kb
1981-01-24 TS NME 24 Jan 1981 pp 14-15 edit_1080px.jpg (edit of details from pp. 14 & 15)
1080 px (W) x 994 px (H), 96 dpi, 669 kb
1981-01-24 TS NME 24 Jan 1981image from p 14 800px.jpg (detail p. 14)
800 px (W) x 619 px (H), 96 dpi, 301 kb (images)

 

 

Record Mirror, January 24, 1981

Posted on 19th February 2017 in "Times Square"
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrShare on RedditPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someone
“All things vaguely sensible suddenly disappear in a puff of smoke.”

Cover of Record Mirror, January 24, 1981 featuring Jane Kennaway, "the voice of 1981"

Page 8 of the Jan. 24, 1981 "Record Mirror," containing a bad review of "Times Square."

 

 

Chris Westwood’s review of Times Square in the January 24, 1981, Record Mirror was sadly typical, finding it an unbelievable melodramatic mess that “tries too many things and pulls none of them off.” He sees some value in Tim Curry’s and Robin’s performances, but they’re not enough to save the film: “Robin Johnson battles aggressively to find some measure of meaning in life and the script… Her potential is possibly great, but it’s held down by ‘Times Square’, which looks as though it’s been made for the sake of making a movie.”

 

Review of "Times Square" from page 8 of the Jan. 24, 1981 "Record Mirror."  Text:  FILMS...FILMS...FILMS...FILMS...FI  TIMES SQUARE. Starring Tim Curry, Trini Alvarado, Robin Johnson. Director: Alan Moyle. (EMI).  PRE-PREVIEW buzzings led one to expect a sort of  Stigwoodian allusion to punk Woodstock, where in fact it's  nothing of the sort. Or any other sort for that matter — 'Times  Square' being a rather muddled mish-mash of an observation,  centering on a pair of female juveniles rejecting adulthood and  growing into it at the same time. Said juveniles (Trini Alvarado,  Robin Johnson) are seen setting up squat amongst the  seamier, slummier areas of New York, hustling for work at a  strip club and singing as the Sleez Sisters, dropping TV sets from great heights, becoming cult figures and — it seems —  the prime and only obsession of "meaningful" DJ Tim Curry  whose good intentions seem to do no good to anyone. All so much soap opera really, if well performed: Curry as  LaGardia is suitably nauseating (supporting the good bad  "guys" a la 'Vanishing Point'), whereas Robin Johnson battles aggressively to find some measure of meaning in life and the  script, her role here is something of a trash-novelist's-eye- view of rebel-punk. Her potential is possibly great, but it's  held down by 'Times Square', which looks as though it's been  made for the sake of making a movie. 'Times Square' never really goes anywhere — apart from  around in circles — because it's used up before it starts; as a  film aimed at the teenage market-place it offers neither the spice nor spectacle of 'Saturday Night Fever' or 'Grease'; as a  film about friendship (which it attempts to be) it dithers,  stumbles and only occasionally works; it tries too many things  and pulls none of them off. By the end we're faced with a rooftop jam session in Times  Square itself, where Robin Johnson's Nicky is suddenly elevated to the role of superstarlet, her embarrassing  rockspeak pronouncements bringing the salivating crowds to  boiling point. All things vaguely sensible suddenly disappear  in a puff of smoke. 'Times Square' is silly. It doesn't know what to say. If only  people would think about what to do with their allowances...  CHRIS WESTWOOD  ROBIN JOHNSON

This review distinguishes itself by being perhaps the only one ever to have absolutely nothing to say about Trini Alvarado.

FILMS…FILMS…FILMS…FILMS…

TIMES SQUARE. Starring Tim Curry, Trini Alvarado, Robin Johnson. Director: Alan Moyle. (EMI).

PRE-PREVIEW buzzings led one to expect a sort of Stigwoodian allusion to punk Woodstock, where in fact it’s nothing of the sort. Or any other sort for that matter — ‘Times Square’ being a rather muddled mish-mash of an observation, centering on a pair of female juveniles rejecting adulthood and growing into it at the same time. Said juveniles (Trini Alvarado, Robin Johnson) are seen setting up squat amongst the seamier, slummier areas of New York, hustling for work at a strip club and singing as the Sleez Sisters, dropping TV sets from great heights, becoming cult figures and — it seems — the prime and only obsession of “meaningful” DJ Tim Curry whose good intentions seem to do no good to anyone.

All so much soap opera really, if well performed: Curry as LaGardia is suitably nauseating (supporting the good bad “guys” a la ‘Vanishing Point’), whereas Robin Johnson battles aggressively to find some measure of meaning in life and the script, her role here is something of a trash-novelist’s-eye-view of rebel-punk. Her potential is possibly great, but it’s held down by ‘Times Square’, which looks as though it’s been made for the sake of making a movie.

‘Times Square’ never really goes anywhere — apart from around in circles — because it’s used up before it starts; as a film aimed at the teenage market-place it offers neither the spice nor spectacle of ‘Saturday Night Fever’ or ‘Grease’; as a film about friendship (which it attempts to be) it dithers, stumbles and only occasionally works; it tries too many things and pulls none of them off.

By the end we’re faced with a rooftop jam session in Times Square itself, where Robin Johnson’s Nicky is suddenly elevated to the role of superstarlet, her embarrassing rockspeak pronouncements bringing the salivating crowds to boiling point. All things vaguely sensible suddenly disappear in a puff of smoke.

‘Times Square’ is silly. It doesn’t know what to say. If only people would think about what to do with their allowances…
CHRIS WESTWOOD

The accompanying photo is TS-57-26/1 from the US Press Material folder and Press Book, also used on all the North American movie posters, and the soundtrack album and promotional materials, including the UK soundtrack sampler record cover.

Advertisement for the "Times Square" soundtrack album on page 32 of the Jan. 24, 1981 "Record Mirror."

 

 

On page 32, however, RSO gives a huge middle finger to the bad review of the movie by running a full-page ad for the soundtrack. In hindsight, we can see that was actually a huge middle finger to the film itself.

The cool thing about this ad is the top half devoted to a line drawing version of TS-82-30, which also appeared on the UK soundtrack sampler cover.

 

 

Chris Westwood, “Films – Times Square” (review (document), AAT ID: 300026480)
“Times Square – the double album soundtrack of the Robert Stigwood film” (advertisement, AAT ID: 300193993)
Record Mirror, January 24, 1981, pp. 8, 32 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389)
16 in (H) x 11 in (W) (work);
Record_Mirror_1981-01-24_p1_1080px.jpg (cover)
1080 px (H) x 798 px (W), 96 dpi, 461 kb
TS_Review_Record_Mirror_19810124_p8_layers_1080px.jpg (full page)
1080 px (H) x 736 px (W), 96 dpi, 502 kb
RJ_TS_Review_Record_Mirror_19810124_p8_1080px.jpg (detail of review)
1080 px (W) x 543 px (H), 96 dpi, 301 kb
TS_OST Ad_Record_Mirror_19810124_p32_1080px.jpg (full page ad)
800 px (W) x 741 px (H), 96 dpi, 425 kb (images)

 

©1980 Spotlight Publications Ltd

 

photoplay, Vol. 32 No. 1, January 1981

Posted on 6th January 2017 in "Times Square"
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrShare on RedditPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someone

Cover of Photoplay Vol. 32 No. 1, January 1981

The January 1981 photoplay featured a cover story on, what else, Flash Gordon.

It also contained a review of Times Square, attributed only to “M.B.”

Review of "Times Square" from Photoplay Vol. 32 No. 1. Text, by "M.B.": TIMES SQUARE Johnny LaGuardia...Tim Curry Pamela Pearl...Trini Alvarado Nicky Marotta...Robin Johnson David Pearl...... Peter Coffield Dr Huber...Herbert Berghof Dr Zymansky....David Margulies Rosie Washington...Anna Maria Horsford JoJo....Michael Margotta Simon....J. C. Quinn Roberto...Miguel Pinero Directed by Alan Moyle. Cert: “AA". Running time: 111 minutes. (Columbia-EMI-Warner) STORY — Nicky, a young punkette suffering from "anti-social behaviour", and Pamela, a misunderstood little rich girl who cracks up at one of her dad's political meetings, are room-mates in a psychiatric hospital. After a shaky start they become friends and decide to run away together. They steal an ambulance for their getaway and set up home in a derelict warehouse, just round the comer from Times Square. Following their plight is local DJ, Johnny LaGuardia. He encourages them as they rename themselves The Sleaze Sisters, sing a few anti-establishment songs, break up TV sets and cover Times Square in graffiti. They become cult heroines and organise a midnight rock concert in Times Square, but the police and Pamela's father are waiting. VERDICT — It's another of those movies about rebellious youth set to rock music. Sound familiar? Whereas Breaking Glass, Quad-rophenia and the like have managed to depict the subject fairly successfully. Times Square fails. It's too naive, the performances of the two girls are weak and even Tim Curry does little to liven up the proceedings. The soundtrack is reasonable, featuring music by The Pretenders, Roxy Music, Gary Numan and Joe Jackson. M.B.


M.B.’s review is atypical, not in that it likes the movie — spoiler, it doesn’t — but in that it goes out of its way to make the point that both Trini’s and Robin’s performances are “weak”. Most of the contemporary reviews were negative but they generally had praise for the girls’ performances.

TIMES SQUARE

Johnny LaGuardia…Tim Curry
Pamela Pearl…Trini Alvarado
Nicky Marotta…Robin Johnson
David Pearl…… Peter Coffield
Dr Huber…Herbert Berghof
Dr Zymansky….David Margulies
Rosie Washington…Anna Maria Horsford
JoJo….Michael Margotta
Simon….J. C. Quinn
Roberto…Miguel Pinero

Directed by Alan Moyle.
Cert: “AA”. Running time: 111 minutes.
(Columbia-EMi-Warner)

STORY — Nicky, a young punkette suffering from “anti-social behaviour”, and Pamela, a misunderstood little rich girl who cracks up at one of her dad’s political meetings, are room-mates in a psychiatric hospital. After a shaky start they become friends and decide to run away together. They steal an ambulance for their getaway and set up home in a derelict warehouse, just round the comer from Times Square. Following their plight is local DJ, Johnny LaGuardia. He encourages them as they rename themselves The Sleaze Sisters, sing a few anti-establishment songs, break up TV sets and cover Times Square in graffiti. They become cult heroines and organise a midnight rock concert in Times Square, but the police and Pamela’s father are waiting.

VERDICT — It’s another of those movies about rebellious youth set to rock music. Sound familiar? Whereas Breaking Glass, Quadrophenia and the like have managed to depict the subject fairly successfully, Times Square fails. It’s too naive, the performances of the two girls are weak and even Tim Curry does little to liven up the proceedings. The soundtrack is reasonable, featuring music by The Pretenders, Roxy Music, Gary Numan and Joe Jackson. M.B.

The accompanying photo is from the scene after the girls escape from the plainclothes detective chasing them through the Adonis Theater. I believe this is its first publication, but I think we’ll see a better quality version in the future.

Image of Nicky and Pammy, illustrating  "Times Square" review by "M.B.":

 

 

M.B., “At the Movies – Times Square” (review (document), AAT ID: 300026480)
photoplay, Vol. 32 No. 1, January 1981, p. 52 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389)
29.8 cm (H) x 21.3 cm (W) (work);
1981-01 Photoplay vol 32 no 1_p01_1080px.jpg (cover)
1080 px (H) x 848 px (W), 96 dpi, 628 kb
1981-01 Photoplay vol 32 no 1_p52_detail_1080px.jpg (review)
1080 px (H) x 292 px (W), 96 dpi, 193 kb
1981-01 Photoplay vol 32 no 1_p52_detail_2_800px.jpg (illustration detail)
800 px (W) x 738 px (H), 96 dpi, 311 kb (images)
 
photoplay ©1981 The Illustrated Publications Company Limited

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

 

Playboy, Vol. 28 No. 1, January 1981

Posted on 20th June 2016 in "Times Square"
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrShare on RedditPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someone
“The raggle-taggle queen of the night is Robin…”

Relevant text:  MOVIE SCORE CARD capsule close-ups of current films by bruce williamson  Times Square (Reviewed this month) Punks on Broadway.

Bruce Williamson didn’t not like Times Square, but he couldn’t ignore its flaws… still, his review in the January Playboy was generally positive, appreciating the film’s visual evocation of Times Square and, like most other reviewers, Robin’s performance.

The two bunny-heads meant the movie was “worth a look.”

A gravel-voiced hoyden named Robin Johnson takes over Times Square (EMI/ AFD) and makes it all her own. Edited detail from p. 46, the second page of "Movies" by Bruce Williamson: a review of "Times Square": A gravel-voiced hoyden named Robin Johnson takes over Times Square (EMI/ AFD) and makes it all her own. Teamed up with Robin is Trini Alvarado (who made her big splash in last year’s Rich Kids), while England’s Tim Curry (star of The Rocky Horror Show on stage and screen) adds a garnish of colorful idiosyncrasy as an all-night deejay who transforms a couple of runaway kids into punk-rock stars. Directed by Canadian- born Alan Moyle from a screenplay by Jacob Brackman (former Esquire film critic and sometime PLAYBOY contributor), Times Square takes chances, caroms from hits to misses, yet captures the seedy, funky atmosphere of mid- Manhattan fleshpots as few other movies have done since Midnight Cowboy. Filmed on location, Moyle’s grungy fable depicts a nighttime New York full of music, drugs, muscle, hustle, youthful exuberance and teenaged rebels without a cause. The raggle-taggle queen of the night is Robin, herself in real life a Brooklyn high school girl and nonpro until someone discovered she could curse, swagger and belt songs like a junior-miss Bette Midler—though compared with this kid, Bette is a cream puff. Here, Robin’s the street-wise gamine who takes up with a New York City commissioner’s runaway daughter (Trini) to form a duo called The Sleaze Sisters. The movie as a whole may be a triumph of sleaze over substance, but Robin Johnson plays it like a seasoned trouper.Playboy Vol. 28 No. 1, January 1981, p. 1, cover Teamed up with Robin is Trini Alvarado (who made her big splash in last year’s Rich Kids), while England’s Tim Curry (star of The Rocky Horror Show on stage and screen) adds a garnish of colorful idiosyncrasy as an all-night deejay who transforms a couple of runaway kids into punk-rock stars. Directed by Canadian- born Alan Moyle from a screenplay by Jacob Brackman (former Esquire film critic and sometime PLAYBOY contributor), Times Square takes chances, caroms from hits to misses, yet captures the seedy, funky atmosphere of mid- Manhattan fleshpots as few other movies have done since Midnight Cowboy. Filmed on location, Moyle’s grungy fable depicts a nighttime New York full of music, drugs, muscle, hustle, youthful exuberance and teenaged rebels without a cause. The raggle-taggle queen of the night is Robin, herself in real life a Brooklyn high school girl and nonpro until someone discovered she could curse, swagger and belt songs like a junior-miss Bette Midler—though compared with this kid, Bette is a cream puff. Here, Robin’s the street-wise gamine who takes up with a New York City commissioner’s runaway daughter (Trini) to form a duo called The Sleaze Sisters. The movie as a whole may be a triumph of sleaze over substance, but Robin Johnson plays it like a seasoned trouper.

Photo of Trini Alvarado and Robin Johnson from p. 46, the second page of "Movies" by Bruce Williamson, containing a review of "Times Square":

 

 

The photo looks like the one that was used as the cover of the Japanese “Same Old Scene” single, on the inside of the soundtrack album gatefold, and in the songbook, but it isn’t. It also isn’t a color version of TS-72-8A/14, which appeared in the December 23, 1980 US magazine (as seen last post). It’s a third shot from that session, which as of this writing I don’t believe ever appeared anywhere else.

 

 

Playboy, Vol. 28 No. 1, January 1981
8.25 in (W) x 10.85 in (H)
(Bruce Williamson, “Movies,” pp. 44-50
“Times Square,” p. 46) (work)

 

©1981 Playboy

 

Monthly Film Bulletin, Vol. 47 No. 562, November 1980

Posted on 31st May 2016 in "Times Square"
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrShare on RedditPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someone

Cover of the November 1980 Monthly Film Bulletin, Vol. 47 No. 562, published by the British Film Institute   Photo of Jack Nicholson in "The Shining"  Text:  November 1980 bfi  MONTHLY FILM BULLETIN VOL. 47 NO. 562 FEATURE FILMS Alternative Miss World, The	207 And Give Us Our Daily Sex/Malizia erotica .......	216 Attack of the Phantoms	207 Awakening, The	208 Babylon .......	208 Battle Beyond the Stars	209 Big Brawl, The......................209 Blue Lagoon, The	.	210 Chuquiago .	.	.210 Clones of Bruce Lee, The/Shen-Wei San Meng-Lung	...	221 Come Play with Me 2 .	211 Dark Intruder, The .	211 Death Ship .......	212 Dérobade, La/The Life .	.	.	212 Dressed to Kill .	.	.	.	213 El Salvador Revolution or Death 213 Fog, The............................214 He Knows You're Alone	214 Hunter, The .	....	215 Kiss Meets the Phantom see Attack of the Phantoms	207 Last Embrace	216 Last Feelings/L'Ultimo sapore dell' aria ........	224 Life, The/La dérobade .	.212 Lupa mannara, La/Werewolf Woman 216 Malizia erotica/And Give Us Our Daily Sex .	.	.	.	.216 Mary Millington 1946-1979 Pro-logue/Mary Millington's True Blue Confessions .	.217 Mountain Men, The	217 Nurse Sherri........................218 Poseban Tretman/Special Treatment 218 Prom Night..........................218 Sauve qui peut (La Vie)/Slow Motion .......	219 Scandal in the Family/Scandalo in famiglia—grazie zio .	.	.	.	220 Scandalo in famiglia—grazie zio/ Scandal in the Family	220 Scandinavian Erotica	220 Semaine de vacances, Une/A Week's Holiday..........................220 Shen-Wei San Meng-Lung/The Clones of Bruce Lee	221 Shining, The	221 Slow Motion/Sauve qui peut (La Vie) ........	219 Special Treatment/PosebanTretman 218 Swedish Nympho Slaves/Dîe teuflischen Schwestern .	222 Teuflischen Schwestern, Die/ Swedish Nympho Slaves	222 That Sinking Feeling ...	223 Times Square ......	223 Ultimo sapore dell'aria, L'/Last Feelings .......	224 Week's Holiday, A/Une semaine de vacances ......	220 Werewolf Woman/La lupa mannara 216 Wholly Moses!	.	224 Willie & Phil ...... .	225 RETROSPECTIVE Germania, anno zero/Germany Year Zero ........	225 Germany Year Zero/Germania, anno zero ....	  225 Paisà ........	226 Stromboli/Stromboli, terra di dio .	227 Stromboli, terra di dio/Stromboli 227 50p
Pictures, but not of Robin. What a cheap post.

 

Robin is mentioned quite a bit though in Gilbert Adair’s surprisingly positive and intellectual review, about which Karen (DefeatedandGifted) has written a much more incisive piece than I could ever hope to. So I suggest you just click that link and read it.

 

Karen opens, however, by saying “Due to its format and very small typeface, I won’t scan this review…” I have no such compunctions. Here is what it looks like. But she’s right: it’s two long, dense paragraphs in a tiny font. I’ll add the text in a more readable form if I get enough requests to do so, which I won’t. Check Karen’s blog for the important parts of what it actually says.

 

Tantalizingly, the exhaustive list of the film’s credits ends with “111 mins. Original running time—113 mins,” perhaps the first ever indication that there’s something missing.

 

 

Adair, Gilbert. “Times Square.” Rev. of Times Square. Monthly Film Bulletin Nov. 1980: 223-24. Print.

 

Monthly Film Bulletin Copyright © The British Film Institute, 1980

 

Gene Siskel Times Square review, November 19 1980

Posted on 21st May 2016 in "Times Square"
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrShare on RedditPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someone

No pictures this time. Sorry. I’ll make it up to you eventually.

Gene Siskel reviewed Times Square on page 6 of Section 3 of the November 19 Chicago Tribune. He gave it two stars, and those two stars were Robin Johnson and Trini Alvarado. No, he didn’t literally say that, but his review was typical of the reviews at the time: the film was unrealistic and disjointed, a rehash of the typical rebellious youth picture made dangerous by portraying Times Square as a safe place for kids, but was somewhat redeemed by the terrific performances of Robin and Trini.

I don’t have a physical copy of this review, but I thought it was important enough to include. The online Tribune archives contain a scanned copy. Here’s the text, which will maybe be a little easier to read, until someone makes me take it down:

Sleazy script renders ‘Times Square’ unreal

By Gene Siskel
Movie critic

“TlMES SQUARE” is a standard teen age rebellion movie set to a New Wave beat. The film’s parents are awful; the deejay is the only one who understands.

“Times Square” is the story of two young girls, one wealthy and WASP-ish, the other poor and Italian. They find each other in the same New York neurological hospital, where they both — rather improbably — are undergoing tests for brain damage.

The poor girl, who dresses very punk, is a ward of the state; the wealthy girl, whose father is a city planning comissioner out to purge Times Square of its criminal element, is a sweet little thing who dresses demurely.

Why is the rich girl being tested for brain damage? The only reason the film supplies is that she embarrassed her father at a public meeting at which his Times Square plan was being discussed. Since when does a parent respond to whining by having a child subjected to a CAT scan? When the whining occurs in a movie designed to appeal to youngsters.

BUT THAT ISN’T the biggest lie of “Times Square,” which producer Robert Stlgwood has envisioned as the punk-rock answer to his ‘“Saturday Night Fever.”

No, the biggest lie is that these two girls successfully run out of their hospital room, drive across Manhattan in a stolen ambulance, and establish living quarters in a deserted pier. By day and night they wander New York’s fabled 42d Street, between 7th and 8th avenues, a street that in reality is packed with grubby movie theaters, pimps, prostitutes, and junkies. They write plaintive, punk songs about the trials of adolescence and stage a culture protest by throwing TV sets from the roofs of buildings. Calling themselves the Sleeze Sisters, their anti-authority attitude is exploited by a New York disk jockey (Tim Curry, better known as Dr. Frank N. Furter in the cult hit “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”).

In reality, such waifs most likely would not survive 42d Street, and no doubt parents of children who see this movie will be alarmed at its message, which is nothing less than, “Leave home and come to New York.”

OF COURSE, it’s precisely that kind of message that has sold youth movies, and “Times Square” is no different. It’s just that as city violence has escalated, it’s tougher to ignore the reality of the situation.

Having said all that, there are some things to admire in “Times Square.” Both young actresses (Trini Alvarado as the rich girl, and Robin Johnson as the punk) are excellent in portraying two sides of youthful rebellion. They only look silly when the script requires them to be.

And there’s a special moment when they sing together in the deejay’s studio a virulent, anti-adult rock number. The language of the song is as foul as can be, and the righteous energy of youth is displayed with intimidating power. To see that one scene in “Times Square” is to see a classic rite of passage.

“Times Square” may catch on with today’s young people; and if it does, they won’t be seeing anything that their parents haven’t seen and applauded in their own youth. The punk attitude is not new; only its clothes and 4- and 10-letter words are fresh. Rating: 2 stars.

Two days before that, Roger Ebert reviewed Times Square for the Chicago Sun-Times. He also gave it two stars for essentially the same reasons, but begrudgingly liked it even more than had Siskel: “Of all the bad movies I’ve seen recently, this is the one that projects the real sense of a missed opportunity-of potential achievement gone wrong,” he said. “Why did I still keep thinking it had promise? Mostly because of the screen presences of the two young actresses who were able to suggest more about their characters than the screenplay provides. … ‘Times Square’ is filled with ideas for a movie, but they’ve just never been organized into a movie.”

He’s right, of course: Times Square is an uncomfortable mash-up of two different movies, Allan Moyle’s runaway girls and Robert Stigwood’s New Wave rebellion. The rushed, forced melding of the latter with the former (with Robin as the secret ingredient) created magic, but in the form of a fatally flawed film.

Ebert’s review is online in its entirety on his website.

 

 

Siskel, Gene. “Sleazy Script Renders ‘Times Square’ Unreal.” Rev. of Times Square. Chicago Tribune 19 Nov. 1980, sec. 3: 6. Chicago Tribune Archives. Web. 20 Aug. 2015.
 
Ebert, Roger. “Times Square.” Rev. of Times Square. Chicago Sun-Times 17 Nov. 1980: n. pag. RogerEbert.com. Ebert Digital LLC. Web. 2 Apr. 2016.

 

 

New York Magazine, Vol. 13 No. 43, November 3, 1980

Posted on 1st May 2016 in "Times Square"
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrShare on RedditPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someone
“Trini Alvarado and Robin Johnson, the teenage stars of Times Square, show us their offscreen style.”

This article is another of the few things I collected at the time of the movie, since there was (and still is) no official merchandise, and none of the surplus publicity materials had yet filtered out to the public… not that I would have had any idea where to look. A movie ad, I cut from the local paper. This… I’m not proud of it, but, it wasn’t my copy of the magazine. In fact, I have no idea why I was looking at it. I must have found out the article was there, although I have no idea how. Anyway, I cleverly opened the staples, removed these pages, and reassembled the magazine (a talent I’ve since developed into an art form in the service of good, not evil). I still don’t have a full copy of the magazine — that’s why I’m not reproducing the cover or the contents page (which is where the quote above comes from), and why the pictures on the second page are a little messed up: these pages lived inside my copy of the soundtrack album, and aged badly over the years. They’re actually very yellow now. Who knew I’d still have them and would want to scan them thirty-odd years later?

Two Girls
Trini Alvarado is thirteen. She neither smokes nor drinks nor swears. Robin Johnson is sixteen. She has, on occasion, been known to do all of these things. Trini is a familiar face. We’ve seen her on Broadway in Runaways and onscreen in Rich Kids. Robin has never acted before. She was “discovered” by a casting scout on the steps of Brooklyn Tech.
An unlikely pair? Perhaps. But the two, who become fast friends in Robert Stigwood’s 42nd Street fantasy Times Square, have also become friends in real life.
The characters they portray—Pamela Pearl, the shy, sheltered, vulnerable daughter of a New York City official, and Nicky Marotta, an angry, outrageous, vulnerable street kid— survive by their wits in the shadowy world of Times Square, eventually becoming minor celebrities as the singing “Sleaze Sisters.” “The story is ridiculous,” says Trini, “yet so full of great human friendship and warm feelings!”
As these pages show, each girl has a personal sense of style. But their taste is tame compared with the hot couture they wear onscreen—a surreal New York-bag lady-goes-to-Disneyland amalgam of thrift-shop rejects, torn doilies, long johns, even belted plastic garbage bags, all designed by Bob DeMora. “I would never step out in Woodside looking like that,” says Trini.
During the filming, the stars’ outré outfits often provoked remarks from prostitutes. But the worst thing, they say, was having to keep up with their schoolwork. Between shots, they studied with a tutor, in a trailer on Times Square. Did their nerves ever wear thin? “Me and Trini,” says Robin, “we got pissed off at each other very little.” —Caterine Milinaire

Such good friends: Facing page, Trini Alvarado (top, and bottom left) wears a mauve cotton jumpsuit ($84) and a crocheted mauve vest trimmed with matching fur ($185). Robin Johnson sports a hand-knitted beige wool sweater flecked with colors and balls of fur ($185) over beige wool knickers dotted with pink and brown ($140). All from Nancy & Co. (986 Madison Avenue, near 77th Street).
The entertainers: Above left, Domingo Alvarado, the flamenco guitarist at Torremolinos Restaurant, serenades his daughter, who is wearing a pale-gold, soft leather camisole ($250) with blond lace-over-georgette mid-calf pants ($150), both by Adri; by special order at Bergdorf Goodman. Crocheted necklace by Susan Stevens is $15 at Serendipity 3 (225 East 60th Street). “My mother was a flamenco dancer,”
Trini says, “and from her costumes I learned to appreciate the posture a close-fitted torso can give you.” Star and stripes: Above right, for dancing, exercising, or winter layering, a black Danskin leotard; $25 at Lee Baumann (38 East 8th Street).
Test pattern: Center left, Robin dresses up a sweatshirt with clear silicone arrowheads that can be arranged in any configuration, then pinned in place ($9 a dozen). Black-and-gold pyramid earrings are $30. Both by Two Ten Design, at Sharon Bovaird (927 Madison Avenue, near 73rd).
Red, red Robin: Left, this red union suit, similar to one she wore in Times Square, is $25.95 at Kreeger & Sons (16 West 46th Street). Sheepskin slippers, $25 at Berek (265 West 37th). “I am definitely a street kid,” says husky-voiced Robin, “a weekend street kid.”

Denby, David. "Movies." The last part of Mr. Denby's column is a scathing review of "Times Square."  Text:  Times Square, A true atrocity, is about two teenage girls—one rich and beautiful (Trini Alvarado), the other poor and tough (Robin Johnson)—who meet in a hospital and go on the lam together in the Times Square area. Dressing up in  bag-lady fashions, the two girls, who call themselves “the Sleaze Sisters,” live in an abandoned pier off 42nd Street and work in a scummy club, dancing and losing their inhibitions, and all of that. The point of view of the  screenplay by Jacob Brackman is that sleaze is life-affirming because it’s not safe and bourgeois. But it turns out that Brackman and director Alan Moyle beg every issue in this social parable by turning Times Square into a  harmless hangout—sort of a cross between Sherwood Forest and Disneyland. This evil, lying little fantasy has been photographed in ugly color, and a mess of mediocre rock music has been draped across it like mozzarella on lasagna.  If the producer, Robert Stigwood, sells soundtrack albums with this movie, he should set up a fund for every girl mugged, raped, or battered in Times Square. 84 NEW YORK/NOVEMBER 3, 1980

 

Caterine Millinaire’s article couldn’t do a better job of promoting the girls and the movie. Ironically, on the back of the sheet containing page 78 is page 84, which has on it the last part of David Denby’s film review column, in which he totally eviscerates Times Square. While his criticism was not entirely unwarranted, he was one of the few reviewers to not acknowledge Robin’s performance.

A cleaner, clearer digital version of the entire issue is here.

 

 

Millinaire, Caterine. “Two Girls.” New York 3 Nov. 1980: 78-79;
Denby, David. “Movies.” Rev. of Times Square. New York 3 Nov. 1980: 84. (works);
New York 198011030002_p78_1080px.jpg, 1080 px (H) x 806 px (W), 96 dpi, 449 KB;
New York 198011030002_p79_1080px.jpg, 1080 px (H) x 807 px (W), 96 dpi, 448 KB;
New York 198011030004_layers_1080px_detail.jpg, 481 px (H) x 260 px (W), 96 dpi, 111 KB (images)

 

New York ©1980 New York Media LLC
Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

“Crude cliches clutter up ‘Times Square’”

Posted on 11th April 2016 in "Times Square"
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrShare on RedditPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someone

Review of "Times Square" from the Montreal Gazette, October 25, 1980.  Text:  The GAZETTE, Montreal, Saturday, October 25,1980 107 FILM Crude cliches clutter up 'Times Square’ TIMES SQUARE Atwater A Robert Stigwood production; directed by Alan Moyle; screenplay by Jacob Brackman from a story by Alan Moyle and Leanne Unger; starring Robin Johnson, Trini Alvarado and Tim Curry. By BRUCE BAILEY of The Gazette The plot of Times Square is so full of holes it looks like it was smashed by a jackhammer. This story of two runaway teenage girls and their exploits on New York’s sin strip is also covered with about as many crude cliches as the wall of a public washroom. On the other hand, Times Square is sometimes driven by a refreshing energy, much of it generated by the tough-talking Robin Johnson — a 16-year-old making her acting debut. And Quebec- born Alan Moyle has directed this American-produced film with some of the appealing, down-to-earth style that he brought to his low-budget independent movies (The Rubber Gun Show and Montreal Main). This will probably not add up to enough to satisfy most adult movie-goers, but the film may go over big with teenyboppers anyway. They’re likely to try to sneak around the age restrictions — just as they did successfully with Saturday Night Fever —> drawn in this time by star Tim Curry (the lead in the cultish  Rocky Horror Picture Show) and by the film’s double-album soundtrack of contemporary rock’n’roll. The mandatory teenage rebellion is there, too. In this case, the upstarts are street-wise Nicky Marotta (Johnson) and Pamela Pearl (Trini Alvarado), naive daughter of a knee-jerk liberal politician. Lonely Pamela, attracted by Nicky’s piz-zaz, is lured out of the hospital where the two shared a room for neurological tests. It’s assumed at first that this is a kidnapping, but the  two actually develop a friendship as they set up housekeeping in an abandoned warehouse. The two become cult figures (calling themselves the Sleez Sisters), thanks to a late-night radio disc jockey (Curry). He resorts to a string of worn-out catch-phrases to hold the runaways up as symbols of freedom. Nicky’s new-found talent as a “writer” and performer of “punk” lyrics makes the girls even more famous — but the road to glory, naturally, is littered with a few rocky conflicts. Certain incidents are either inexplicable or unbelievable. As a trademark of their protests against the establishment, for example, the girls start throwing television sets off buildings. (Where did these TVs come from? Why is nobody hit on such crowded streets?) At another point, Pam gets a job dancing with her top on at a topless bar, because the manager thinks it will give the place “class.” (Yeah. Right.) It’s also not likely that the two could hang around Times Square so long and not get hassled by the street people. And it’s even less likely that Pam could elude the police so long — particularly when she makes a practise of standing around in public and in front of a large “wanted” poster with her picture on it. The list goes on. But, well, it’s still fun. Take two boppers and call me in the morning. Robin Johnson wants to become a rock star in ‘Times Square’

 

Mr. Bailey wants to like the movie, he really does, but he just can’t see it appealing to adults, because gosh darn it it just doesn’t make any sense. It may appeal to the Tiger Beat audience though, because as he admits, “it’s still fun.” He also sees the key to why anybody is still talking about it so many years later: it’s “driven by a refreshing energy, much of it generated by the tough-talking Robin Johnson…”

Crude cliches clutter up ‘Times Square’
TIMES SQUARE
Atwater
A Robert Stigwood production; directed by Alan Moyle; screenplay by Jacob Brackman from a story by Alan Moyle and Leanne Unger; starring Robin Johnson, Trini Alvarado and Tim Curry.
By BRUCE BAILEY
of The Gazette
The plot of Times Square is so full of holes it looks like it was smashed by a jackhammer.
This story of two runaway teenage girls and their exploits on New York’s sin strip is also covered with about as many crude cliches as the wall of a public washroom.
On the other hand, Times Square is sometimes driven by a refreshing energy, much of it generated by the tough-talking Robin Johnson — a 16-year-old making her acting debut. And Quebec-born Alan Moyle has directed this American-produced film with some of the appealing, down-to-earth style that he brought to his low-budget independent movies (The Rubber Gun Show and Montreal Main).
This will probably not add up to enough to satisfy most adult movie-goers, but the film may go over big with teenyboppers anyway.
They’re likely to try to sneak around the age restrictions — just as they did successfully with Saturday Night Fever — drawn in this time by star Tim Curry (the lead in the cultish Rocky Horror Picture Show) and by the film’s double-album soundtrack of contemporary rock’n’roll.
The mandatory teenage rebellion is there, too. In this case, the upstarts are street-wise Nicky Marotta (Johnson) and Pamela Pearl (Trini Alvarado), naive daughter of a knee-jerk liberal politician.
Lonely Pamela, attracted by Nicky’s pizzaz, is lured out of the hospital where the two shared a room for neurological tests. It’s assumed at first that this is a kidnapping, but the two actually develop a friendship as they set up housekeeping in an abandoned warehouse.
The two become cult figures (calling themselves the Sleez Sisters), thanks to a late-night radio disc jockey (Curry). He resorts to a string of worn-out catch-phrases to hold the runaways up as symbols of freedom.
Nicky’s new-found talent as a “writer” and performer of “punk” lyrics makes the girls even more famous — but the road to glory, naturally, is littered with a few rocky conflicts.
Certain incidents are either inexplicable or unbelievable. As a trademark of their protests against the establishment, for example, the girls start throwing television sets off buildings. (Where did these TVs come from? Why is nobody hit on such crowded streets?)
At another point, Pam gets a job dancing with her top on at a topless bar, because the manager thinks it will give the place “class.” (Yeah. Right.) It’s also not likely that the two could hang around Times Square so long and not get hassled by the street people.
And it’s even less likely that Pam could elude the police so long — particularly when she makes a practise of standing around in public and in front of a large “wanted” poster with her picture on it.
The list goes on. But, well, it’s still fun. Take two boppers and call me in the morning.

 

 

Bailey, Bruce. “Crude Cliches Clutter up ‘Times Square'” Rev. of Times Square. Gazette [Montreal] 25 Oct. 1980: 107. (work);
Gazette, Montreal, October 25 1980 p 107_1080px.jpg, 1080 px (H) x 7518 px (W), 96 dpi, 573 KB (image)

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+