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


 

Screen International No. 246, June 21-28, 1980

Posted on 2nd March 2017 in "Times Square"
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Cover page of a UK movie industry trade publication with two-page ad centerfold announcing TIMES SQUARE in production

This is the fifth appearance Times Square made in the press that I know of. The first was a mention in Radio and Records, the date of which I’m uncertain, but since it describes the movie as coming out in the summer I’m placing it first — possibly even as early as November 1979 when shooting would have started and the big WJAD neon sign hoisted into place on the Candler Building. The second was Screen International No. 231 in March 1980, touting Robin’s unlikely “discovery.” The third was an article about the film’s production in The Aquarian in April 1980 which seems to have been written from interviews conducted in November and December 1979. And the fourth, in May 1980, a quote about the movie from Robert Stigwood in Photoplay.

So in mid-June 1980, which, judging by the Radio and Records article, was the originally planned release date for Times Square, EMI plastered a two-page announcement of the film’s impending release in the center spread of this organ aimed at British film exhibitors and producers. Allan Moyle had long since left the project; the spring months had probably been devoted to reshoots and re-editing. The text of the ad, which features a glorious photo of Robin by Mick Rock, places Times Square as the crowning jewel in Robert Stigwood’s crown. Seven months later it would be obvious to all that this was not the case, and the remaining publicity for Times Square would revert to the March Screen International blurb and center around Robin’s discovery and impending stellar career.

 
Two-page centerspread advertisement from a UK movie industry trade publication. Photo by Mick Rock. Text: Saturday Night Fever, Grease, Jesus Christ Superstar, Tommy. The entertainment revolution that Robert Stigwood began, continues with TIMES SQUARE™ AN EMI FILMS PRESENTATION UNITED KINGDOM DISTRIBUTION BY COLUMBIA-EMI-WARNER NORTH AMERICA BY ASSOCIATED FILM DISTRIBUTION AND THROUGHOUT THE REST OF THE WORLD BY EMI FILMS EMI A member of the Thorn EMI Group TIMES SQUARE™ © 1980 Butterfly Valley N.V.

Saturday Night Fever, Grease,
Jesus Christ Superstar, Tommy.
The entertainment revolution
that Robert Stigwood began,
continues with
TIMES SQUARE™
AN EMI FILMS PRESENTATION
UNITED KINGDOM DISTRIBUTION BY COLUMBIA-EMI-WARNER
NORTH AMERICA BY ASSOCIATED FILM DISTRIBUTION AND
THROUGHOUT THE REST OF THE WORLD BY EMI FILMS
EMI
A member of the Thorn EMI Group

TIMES SQUARE™
© 1980 Butterfly Valley N.V.

If you have the feeling you’ve seen this before, or that I’m just vamping here, you’re right: I only just obtained a copy of this magazine, but in December 2015 I posted a link to the copy previously posted by Karen Dean (DefeatedandGifted) and said pretty much all I had to say about it then. At the time I never thought I’d find any copies of Screen International, but I now have three issues in which Robin appears. I’ve been collecting Robin Johnson items for a very long time, and somehow “new” things keep turning up.

 

 


Screen International, No. 246, June 21-28, 1980 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389) ; 38.8 x 28.9 cm; (contains:)
[Times Square center spread advertisement] (advertisement, AAT ID: 300193993), pp. 12-13
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777 x 1080 px, 96 dpi, 508 kb
Screen_International_No_246_1980-06-21_pp12-13_1080px.jpg
1080 x 1609 px, 96 dpi, 647 kb (images)

©1980 King Publications Ltd
Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+


 

Another 2-fer

Posted on 8th October 2016 in "Times Square"
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Two more UK black and white press photos on a single 8 x 10 print.

2 UK TIMES SQUARE B&W Press Photos on a single 8x10 print. The bottom photo is in the Press Kit, the top photo appears nowhere else as of this writing.  Captions:  A ROBERT STIGWARD PRESENTATION FOR EMI FILMS - TIMES SQUARE.  IN  A DISTRESSED CONDITION, NICKY (ROBIN JOHNSON) TRIES TO TELL HER STORY OVER THE AIR FROM THE RADIO STATION.  RELEASED IN THE UK BY COLUMBIA-EMI-WARNER.  A ROBERT STIGWARD PRESENTATION FOR EMI FILMS - TIMES SQUARE.  NICKY (ROBIN JOHNSON) AND PAMELA (TRINI ALVARADO) SURVEY THE CROWDS BELOW THEM IN TIMES SQUARE.  RELEASED IN THE UK BY COLUMBIA-EMI-WARNER.

Like the previous one of these, we have here one familiar picture and one new one.

 

The top photo, which  appears nowhere else as of this writing, from 2 UK TIMES SQUARE B&W Press Photos on a single 8x10 print.  Caption:  A ROBERT STIGWARD PRESENTATION FOR EMI FILMS - TIMES SQUARE.  IN  A DISTRESSED CONDITION, NICKY (ROBIN JOHNSON) TRIES TO TELL HER STORY OVER THE AIR FROM THE RADIO STATION.  RELEASED IN THE UK BY COLUMBIA-EMI-WARNER.

A ROBERT STIGWARD PRESENTATION FOR EMI FILMS – TIMES SQUARE. IN A DISTRESSED CONDITION, NICKY (ROBIN JOHNSON) TRIES TO TELL HER STORY OVER THE AIR FROM THE RADIO STATION. RELEASED IN THE UK BY COLUMBIA-EMI-WARNER.

 

At least I’ve never seen the top photo before, of Nicky waiting for her cue from Johnny to start her performance. Or perhaps it’s Robin waiting for her cue from Allan Moyle.

 

 

Bottom photo from 2 UK TIMES SQUARE B&W Press Photos on a single 8x10 print. The bottom photo is in the Press Kit.  Caption:  A ROBERT STIGWARD PRESENTATION FOR EMI FILMS - TIMES SQUARE.  NICKY (ROBIN JOHNSON) AND PAMELA (TRINI ALVARADO) SURVEY THE CROWDS BELOW THEM IN TIMES SQUARE.  RELEASED IN THE UK BY COLUMBIA-EMI-WARNER.

A ROBERT STIGWARD PRESENTATION FOR EMI FILMS – TIMES SQUARE. NICKY (ROBIN JOHNSON) AND PAMELA (TRINI ALVARADO) SURVEY THE CROWDS BELOW THEM IN TIMES SQUARE. RELEASED IN THE UK BY COLUMBIA-EMI-WARNER.

 

The bottom photo of Pammy looking on as Nicky decides whether to perform or not is a cropped version of TS-22-32 from the UK Press Kit (whose US-style numbering has me doubtful if it was really part of the Press Kit). Unfortunately it doesn’t have a nifty little UK-style number added like its counterpart on the other 2-fer.

Both captions repeat the peculiar misspelling of Robert Stigwood’s name as “Stigward”.

 

 

[2 “Times Square” black and white press photos on 1 8×10″ print 1 of 2]
black-and-white photograph, AAT ID: 300128347, 7.75 in (W) x 10 in (H) (work);
1981 2-photo UK 8×10-1_1080px.jpg
1080 px (H) x 863 px (W), 96 dpi, 312 kb (image)

1980
[IN A DISTRESSED CONDITION, NICKY (ROBIN JOHNSON) TRIES TO TELL HER STORY OVER THE AIR FROM THE RADIO STATION.]
[detail of 2 “Times Square” black and white press photos on 1 8×10″ print 1 of 2]
1981 2-photo UK 8×10-1_top_1080px.jpg
inscription:
[on photo] 20
[on border]A ROBERT STIGWARD PRESENTATION FOR EMI FILMS – TIMES SQUARE. IN A DISTRESSED CONDITION, NICKY (ROBIN JOHNSON) TRIES TO TELL HER STORY OVER THE AIR FROM THE RADIO STATION. RELEASED IN THE UK BY COLUMBIA-EMI-WARNER.
1080 px (W) x 950 px (H), 96 dpi, 404 kb (image)
[NICKY (ROBIN JOHNSON) AND PAMELA (TRINI ALVARADO) SURVEY THE CROWDS BELOW THEM IN TIMES SQUARE.]
[detail of 2 “Times Square” black and white press photos on 1 8×10″ print 1 of 2]
1981 2-photo UK 8×10-1_bottom_1080px.jpg
inscription:
[on border]
A ROBERT STIGWARD PRESENTATION FOR EMI FILMS – TIMES SQUARE. NICKY (ROBIN JOHNSON) AND PAMELA (TRINI ALVARADO) SURVEY THE CROWDS BELOW THEM IN TIMES SQUARE. RELEASED IN THE UK BY COLUMBIA-EMI-WARNER.
1080 px (W) x 943 px (H), 96 dpi, 406 kb (image)

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

“Nick & Slick”

Posted on 28th September 2016 in "Times Square"
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Two UK black and white press photos on a single 8 x 10 print.

2 UK TIMES SQUARE black and white press photos on a single 8x10 print.  The top photo is a version of TS-72-8A/14 from the US press kit, cropped to show less at the top and more at the left, right, and bottom.  It has a tiny number 20 at its lower right.  The bottom photo appears nowhere else as of this writing.  Text:  A ROBERT STIGWARD PRODUCTION FOR EMI FILMS - TIMES SQUARE.  PAMELA (TRINI ALVARADO) AND NICKY (ROBIN JOHNSON) SING LIVE ON THE AIR.  RELEASED IN THE UK BY COLUMBIA-EMI-WARNER.  A ROBERT STIGWARD PRODUCTION FOR EMI FILMS - TIMES SQUARE.  PAMELA (TRINI ALVARADO) AND NICKY (ROBIN JOHNSON) DEFACE PAMELA'S 'LOSTGIRL' POSTER.  RELEASED IN THE UK BY COLUMBIA-EMI-WARNER.

Who exactly printed these, and why, are mysteries, as I haven’t yet come across any publication that used them, but their country of origin is made clear by the captions announcing Times Square’s release in the UK.

A bigger mystery is why the photo captions lead off by misspelling Robert Stigwood’s surname “Stigward”. There’s at least one more 2-on-1 8×10 like this one (see next post), and it maintains the “Stigward” spelling.

 

 

This top photo from a single 8x10 print (2) contaniing 2 UK TIMES SQUARE Press Photos, is a version of TS-72-8A/14 from the US press kit, cropped to show less at the top and more at the left, right, and bottom.  It has a tiny number 20 at its lower right, in the style of the photos from the UK Press Kit.  Text:  A ROBERT STIGWARD PRODUCTION FOR EMI FILMS - TIMES SQUARE.  PAMELA (TRINI ALVARADO) AND NICKY (ROBIN JOHNSON) SING LIVE ON THE AIR.  RELEASED IN THE UK BY COLUMBIA-EMI-WARNER.

A ROBERT STIGWARD PRODUCTION FOR EMI FILMS – TIMES SQUARE. PAMELA (TRINI ALVARADO) AND NICKY (ROBIN JOHNSON) SING LIVE ON THE AIR. RELEASED IN THE UK BY COLUMBIA-EMI-WARNER.

The top photo is a version of TS-72-8A/14 from the US press kit, cropped to show less at the top and more at the left, right, and bottom. The most interesting thing about it it the tiny number 20 at its lower right, in the style of the photos from the UK Press Kit.

This bottom photo appears nowhere else as of this writing.  Text:  A ROBERT STIGWARD PRODUCTION FOR EMI FILMS - TIMES SQUARE.  PAMELA (TRINI ALVARADO) AND NICKY (ROBIN JOHNSON) DEFACE PAMELA'S 'LOSTGIRL' POSTER.  RELEASED IN THE UK BY COLUMBIA-EMI-WARNER.

A ROBERT STIGWARD PRODUCTION FOR EMI FILMS – TIMES SQUARE. PAMELA (TRINI ALVARADO) AND NICKY (ROBIN JOHNSON) DEFACE PAMELA’S ‘LOSTGIRL’ POSTER. RELEASED IN THE UK BY COLUMBIA-EMI-WARNER.

 

The bottom photo, as far as I know, has never appeared anywhere else. It comes from the end of the dancing-along-42nd-Street scene, when they find that someone has spray painted “No Sense Makes Sense – The Sleez Sisters” across a “Missing” poster of Pammy on the side of a city bus. Needless to say, the shot in the film is from a significantly different angle. Also, the scene cuts as Nicky is blacking out Pammy’s eyes, and here Pammy and Nicky admire her completed work, including Nicky’s addition of the legend “Nick & Slick”.

For what it’s worth, this moment is to me the biggest continuity error in the movie. In the film, only Pammy is around when Nicky utters the phrases “Sleez Sisters” and “No Sense Makes Sense”. In the script, there are indications that Johnny has had them in the WJAD studio several times broadcasting their philosophy to the tri-state area, but in the movie, local girls are apparently receiving psychic transmissions from Pier 56. It still works though, adding to the dream logic that underpins the entire movie. There’s no way this could have happened, but of course it did, because it has to. Yes, it makes no sense, but No Sense Makes Sense. It’s pointless to argue about logic flaws in Times Square, because logic isn’t the point, the point is raw emotion, as embodied in Nicky Marotta.

That the incoherent form of the film reflects the intent in this way is a complete accident; I’m certain Allan Moyle and Jacob Brackman weren’t trying to create a film that delivered its message through continuity problems. Moyle has said (in the Anchor Bay DVD commentary) that the script should have had another year’s development before filming, to iron out some of those problems; and if someone other than Robert Stigwood had produced it, the problems created after Moyle left the film wouldn’t have occurred. As I’ve said before, though, if this had happened, Times Square would have been a radically different movie, and wouldn’t have starred Robin Johnson, and I wouldn’t be here blathering on about it.

Now, “No Sense Makes Sense” having its origins as a Charles Manson quote, again betraying the late ’60s-early ’70s sensibilities of the film’s creators, and our heroines adopting it as a rallying cry, and myself using it to explain away the movie’s structural flaws… well, it makes me feel a little icky, but please somebody else discuss this in the comments. I’m really only here to show all the pictures I’ve collected, not to analyze the film. (Every once in a while I just can’t help myself though, as you can see.)

 

 

[2 “Times Square” black and white press photos on 1 8×10″ print 2 of 2]
black-and-white photograph, AAT ID: 300128347, 7.75 in (W) x 10 in (H) (work);
1981 UK 2-photo 8×10-3_1080px.jpg
1080 px (H) x 852 px (W), 96 dpi, 321 kb (image)

1980
[20 – PAMELA (TRINI ALVARADO) AND NICKY (ROBIN JOHNSON) SING LIVE ON THE AIR.]
[detail of 2 “Times Square” black and white press photos on 1 8×10″ print 2 of 2]
1981 UK 2-photo 8×10-3_top_1080px.jpg
inscription:
[on photo] 20
[on border]A ROBERT STIGWARD PRODUCTION FOR EMI FILMS – TIMES SQUARE. PAMELA (TRINI ALVARADO) AND NICKY (ROBIN JOHNSON) SING LIVE ON THE AIR. RELEASED IN THE UK BY COLUMBIA-EMI-WARNER.
1080 px (W) x 911 px (H), 96 dpi, 358 kb (image)
[PAMELA (TRINI ALVARADO) AND NICKY (ROBIN JOHNSON) DEFACE PAMELA’S ‘LOSTGIRL’ POSTER.]
[detail of 2 “Times Square” black and white press photos on 1 8×10″ print 2 of 2]
1981 UK 2-photo 8×10-3_bottom_1080px.jpg
inscription:
[on border]A ROBERT STIGWARD PRODUCTION FOR EMI FILMS – TIMES SQUARE. PAMELA (TRINI ALVARADO) AND NICKY (ROBIN JOHNSON) DEFACE PAMELA’S ‘LOSTGIRL’ POSTER. RELEASED IN THE UK BY COLUMBIA-EMI-WARNER.
1080 px (W) x 921 px (H), 96 dpi, 391 kb (image)

 

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

US Magazine, Vol. 4 No. 18, December 23, 1980

Posted on 10th June 2016 in "Times Square"
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“… a pouty thrush named Robin lights up Times Square.”

Detail from start of an article on new celebrities of 1980.  Text:  ARRIVALS A “mogulette” cements her place in Hollywood. A good skate plays Heiden seek. A new Angel sprouts wings and replaces one who couldn’t Hack it. And a pouty thrush named Robin lights up Times Square. They’re just a few of the names who made it in ’80!

Detail from third page of an article about new celebrities of 1980.  Text:  Robin Johnson  Her pouting lips have earned comparisons with Mick Jagger’s. But only a year ago, Times Square bad girl Robin Johnson was just another teen hanging out on the steps of Brooklyn Tech high school with a dangling cigarette. That’s where a talent scout for the Robert Stigwood Organisation spotted her; he encouraged her to audition—and whammo!

RSO’s and AFD’s publicity departments were sure that Times Square would be a hit, and more importantly, that Robin would be the breakout star, and the Hollywood press agreed long enough for US magazine to run her picture as one of the new talents of 1980.

The photo is a crop of Robin from TS-72-8A/14 from the US Press Materials folder, which also appeared in the AFD Campaign Pressbook, on the UK soundtrack sampler, and as the cover of the Japanese soundtrack sampler.

Robin Johnson
Her pouting lips have earned comparisons with Mick Jagger’s. But only a year ago, Times Square bad girl Robin Johnson was just another teen hanging out on the steps of Brooklyn Tech high school with a dangling cigarette. That’s where a talent scout for the Robert Stigwood Organisation spotted her; he encouraged her to audition—and whammo!

The date of this year-end wrap-up issue was December 23. The irony that Times Square had likely already closed across the nation by the time Robin was heralded as an “Arrival,” is far overshadowed by a story on page 62, about the spectacular “Comeback” of John Lennon.

 

 

US, vol. IV no. 18, December 23, 1980
8 1/8 in (W) x 10 3/4 in (H)
(“Arrivals,” pp. 48-50
“Robin Johnson,” p. 50) (work)

 

©1980 Peters Publishing Co.

 

Robert Stigwood

Posted on 6th January 2016 in "Times Square"
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Robert Stigwood passed away January 4.

If it hadn’t been for him, Jacob Brackman and Allan Moyle would have likely continued to develop the screenplay for Times Square for another year or two. The result would have been a more coherent story, somewhat darker in tone, with more overt indicators of Nicky and Pammy’s relationship, and a soundtrack that only filled a single LP.

That soundtrack, however, wouldn’t have included many New Wave songs, if any.

And the film, being made two or more years later (if at all), wouldn’t have starred Robin Johnson, who would probably have been in college studying pre-law or something by then.

It was a cynical move to load up the movie with New Wave music in order to sell records to a newly burgeoning market… and Robin’s casting was more than anything a case of right place-right time… but without those two things, Times Square would have been a very different film. Would it have been a better film? Quite possibly… but it wouldn’t be the film we’re still obsessed with and talking about all these years later. Maybe someone might be, but not you and me.

And yeah… Robert Stigwood is the guy who dealt Robin’s career a blow it never fully recovered from: signing her to a three-picture deal and then never making the other other two movies, while refusing to let her out of the contract and keeping her from working as an actress until two years had passed and nobody remembered her name…

… but he did make the movie without which we would never have seen her at all.

So, thank you, Robert Stigwood. Rest in peace.
 

Robert Stigwood's production credit from TIMES SQUARE (1980)

 

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The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack “TIMES SQUARE”

Posted on 23rd October 2015 in "Times Square"
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Finally, here’s what all the fuss was about. The 2 record set containing all but one of the songs from the film. In their haste to load the film with soundtrack material, they actually added one too many, and for some reason lost to time, the excellent “Dangerous Type” by The Cars was cut.
 

All but one of the photos on the inside gatefold were used at least once more, some several times – for instance, we’ve already seen the shot of Pammy and Nicky singing “Your Daughter Is One” on the cover of the Japanese “Same Old Scene” 45.
 

The album was released worldwide in 1980 and 1981, and never re-pressed or re-issued in any form. (If you have a CD, it’s a pirated copy.) Whether Robert Stigwood met his goal of reaping massive profits from the soundtrack, leaving the movie to act only as a bit of publicity for the record, I don’t know. I do know that for years, you could go into Sounds on St. Mark’s Place and be assured of finding at least one copy for $1.00. I also know that, unlike the movie, the soundtrack garnered nothing but good reviews, and gained cult status as a great collection of music long before the film achieved its own cult status.

“Talk of the Town” is the single version, not the edited version released on the Pretenders’ Extended Play and Pretenders II. It’s the version used in the video and eventually found a home on the collection The Singles.

The version of “Down in the Park” seems to be the same basic recording as the version on the album Replicas, but is missing a number of effects and synthesizer tracks. It’s also quite a bit different from the “early version” on Disc 2 of the Replicas Redux 2008 expanded edition. It has never been released on CD as far as I know.

“Help Me!” probably would have found a home on Marcy Levy’s debut album, had that ever been completed. She’d been signed with RSO since 1976 but that project never came out, and apparently she’s not exactly disappointed about that:

Born and bred in Detroit, Michigan she sang as Marcy Levy with myriad bands on the rock scene in the Motor City in the early Seventies before signing to RSO Records in 1976. ‘In the beginning they put me with a great producer called David Foster, but the album was never released.

‘It was an R’n’B album because I’ve always been involved in blues and soul, but they were always trying to pigeonhole me.’

“Damn Dog” is still missing Norman Ross’ writing credit. It’s on the sheet music, as we’ve seen, but for some reason it only appears intermittently on the records. It is there front and center on “Your Daughter is One,” at least.

“Flowers in the City” has never appeared anywhere else, even in a re-recorded version without Robin. It looks like starting with that song, David Johansen began a habit of making one-off recordings for other people’s projects and then moving on to something else.

I’ve long had a theory that “Flowers in the City,” the one song on the soundtrack that doesn’t appear in the film, was supposed to be the original closing theme, not “Help Me!”, but attractive as this idea still is I’ve yet to some across any real evidence for it.

Joe Jackson’s “Pretty Boys” and Garland Jeffreys’ “Innocent, Not Guilty” both seem to have been recorded expressly for the soundtrack. The sound recordings of both are copyrighted to RSO, and “Innocent” was engineered by the same person who engineered “Your Daughter is One.” Both songs would appear in totally new versions on the artists’ next albums, but to my knowledge these RSO-owned recordings have never been re-released.

Jimmy Iovine had recently come from producing Tom Petty’s Damn the Torpedoes album when he was brought in board to help produce the Times Square soundtrack, leading to the announcements that Tom Petty would appear on the soundtrack. That didn’t happen of course, but Iovine was producing D. L. Byron’s debut album This Day and Age at the time, and tapped him and his band to provide the backing tracks for both versions of “Damn Dog,” and a cover of “You Can’t Hurry Love.”


“Actually, ‘Shadows of the Night’ was written for Times Square. Jimmy [Iovine] had just finished mis-producing my first record. He was the Musical Coordinator/ Director for the film. I asked him about the plot… he gave me a brief synopsis… rich girl meets poor girl, they run away, hide on a pier, hook up with a late night FM DJ, and begin these strange communications, etc. So I took all that in, went home and sat down at the piano with my legal pad and pen, and ‘Shadows’ popped out in only what seemed like twenty minutes. Those are the best songs. The ones that don’t require any labor or crafting. They just write themselves, if you’re willing to get out of the way.

“The producers of the film couldn’t find an appropriate placement for the song. They came to me with a cassette of Graham Parker performing ‘Can’t Hurry Love’ live. So I suppose it can be said that my version was modeled on Parker’s.”

— D. L. Byron, 19 April 2013 and 13 September 2015

 

Graham Parker’s version had been recorded in 1976 and released on the promo only album Live at Marble Arch. That album itself had achieved its own cult status and was widely taped and bootlegged, but unlike Times Square it finally got a digital release in 1996 as part of the second disc of the greatest hits compilation Vertigo. It is recognizably the same arrangement, but much as I love Graham Parker, I think Byron plays it better. I may be biased.

Byron told the above story in this interview from 2012, in much the same words but with a few more details, such as that the original interest in “Shadows of the Night” (yes, the “Shadows of the Night” that would become a massive hit for Pat Benatar two years later) (can you imagine? “Shadows of the Night” making its debut in Times Square?) was as the opening number (which is Roxy Music’s “Same Old Scene” in the film, and was The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” in the May 1979 screenplay). And, again in my opinion, there is a good place for the song and, like “Flowers in the City,” it’s in place of “Help Me!” It would have been a perfect closing anthem for the movie. But, I suppose the fix was already in with Stigwood for anyone named Gibb.

And, last but not least, returning to announced songs that are missing from the soundtrack — whatever happened to David Bowie? I have a theory about that, too…

But first — I could have sworn that I’d found a reference in text to Bowie being included on the soundtrack while it was still in production, but if so I’ve mislaid it. The only references in print of a song that didn’t make it are to Tom Petty’s “Refugee.” If I’ve double-crossed myself and there is one such that I’ve posted and forgotten about, please someone point me to it. Otherwise, the only real clue is Allan Moyle’s recollection on the Anchor Bay DVD commentary track that there had been a Bowie song planned.

The only confirmation I ever got was in the form of an email from a Robin fan, who said

The Bowie song omitted from the soundtrack was a version of “Life On Mars?” which I have heard is quite different from the classic that we all know and love. He also recorded an alternate version of “The Night Was Not” (My personal fave on the soundtrack) with Desmond Child. A few years ago my wife recounted to me an interview she read in some rock magazine with Desmond Child in which he discussed the music he has done for film. The names of the movie and song struck her (as she’s heard me prattle on about it), as did his mention of Bowie, so she told me about it and it’s one of those things that just sticks in the back of your mind, you know?

I’ve searched for such a magazine/interview with no luck, and several inquiries to Desmond Child have gone unanswered.

As far as I know no such rerecording of “Life on Mars?” has ever surfaced, and there don’t seem to even be any promising bootlegs from that time; no evidence that anything at all was recorded. Now, this would have been just after the time Bowie had been recording Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps). When the video for “Fashion” was shot in October, it featured among its cast G. E. Smith, who had not played on the track or the album. He had been, however, a member of Desmond Child & Rouge for the album Runners in the Night, from which “The Night was Not” came. If Child and Bowie had been collaborating on a track, it’s likely that’s how Bowie and Smith met.

And that would be how Smith came to be in Bowie’s band on September 3, 1980, playing “Life on Mars?” and “Ashes to Ashes” on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Carson introduced the songs as both being about space, but “Ashes to Ashes” is more about heroin addiction, and “Life on Mars” is about… a young girl escaping her awful home life by running to the movies.

In trying to do research for this post, I saw many posts about Bowie’s Tonight Show performance, wondering about the strange choice Bowie made in pairing the nine-year-old “Life on Mars?” with the new single. I think he had both the arrangement and G. E. Smith handy, because a new recording of “Life on Mars?” had been in the works for the Times Square soundtrack. This performance is as close as we’ll get to the mystery track. — In my highly speculative opinion. I point out again, there is absolutely no proof for any of this. But, it is a good excuse to watch this again:
 

 

 

D.L. Byron’s debut album This Day and Age is available through Amazon. The rest of his work is available from Zen Archer Records.

 

 

The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Times Square, RSO RS-2-4203; US, 1980; 2 long-playing records (AAT 300265802) with gatefold picture sleeve (AAT 300266823) and illustrated inner sleeves (work)
©1980 Butterfly Valley NV

 

emails from Jnrsimmons2004, 9 and 12 February 2007

 

Edited 4 December 2015 to include details of the interior gatefold photographs.

 

Times Square Press Material folder (post 3 of 5)

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TIMES
SQUARE

PRODUCTION INFORMATION

About The Motion Picture…

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

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

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

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

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

About The Cast…

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

Times Square Press Folder

Posted on 30th March 2015 in "Times Square"
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At least that’s what it was called when I got it. It’s only a folder though in the sense that it’s folded, not that it contained something else like the press kits which have pockets to hold papers and photos. This is just a big piece of heavy glossy stock, folded over.


It’s not really a “press” folder, either. It looks like promotion to theater owners, to get them to book the film. I’m not an authority on film publicity; if you know a technical term for this kind of object, please leave a comment!

One thing is for sure, though — this was created, like the articles in my last few posts, before the advertising campaign had been designed. The outside is an extremely cool yet rather anonymous collage of Times Square by night, and most of the photos inside are not the ones used later for publicity. The background image is a collage of the collage with a photo that will turn up in black and white in the press kit. The last image at the bottom right is a cropped version of the one I talked about here, which got used a lot. The shot of the concert in Times Square and the close-up of Nicky will both later appear in the Songbook, I think. The close-up of Tim Curry looks like it was taken a second before or after the photo that was printed in black and white in The Aquarian and Prevue. The other pictures may be unique to this folder.

Ironically, the image of the girls with the “Times Square-42nd St.” sign superimposed over them was, as we’ve seen, taken on the corner of 8th Avenue and 50th Street.

The text… well, judge for yourself. It misspells Nicky’s name “Nikki.” Lots of people do that, sure, but, but, no. She spells her first name “Nicky.” The film isn’t even out yet, and it looks like someone may be worried she’s not girly enough.

ROBERT STIGWOOD
PRESENTS
TIMES SQUARE

AFD
Associated
Film Distribution

Robert Stigwood, whose multimedia touch produced such movie-record super hits as “Grease”… “Tommy”… “Saturday Night Fever”… and “Jesus Christ Superstar”… will now usher in a new wave of youthful excitement:
TIMES SQUARE

Set in the neon nerve center of young New York. Crammed with colorful, careening characters. Ablaze with the light of a million midnight suns. Tuned to a furious rock beat… amps up… full power on. The new wave. It’s called:
TIMES SQUARE

It’s about the most rollicking runaways since Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Pammy Pearl… bright… pretty… shy of love… from a Fifth Avenue penthouse overlooking the park. Nikki Marotta… tough… funny… hooked on dreams… from the mean streets of the east Village.

They’ve ridden a wild river called 42nd Street. Now, they’re hiding on the exciting, eccentric, busy dizzy, dangerous island that’s Times Square.

Half the city is hunting for them. The other half is cheering for them… to stay “lost.” The only one who knows their whereabouts is all-night disc jockey Johnny La Guardia, perched in a skyscraper studio, playing their song. And he won’t tell.

Because any moment now… Pammy and Nikki will reappear as the spectacular “Sleaze Sisters”… to stop traffic… live their dreams… and turn on the whole town.
TIMES SQUARE

It’s a dazzling youth-market-musical that will pack theatres this October… like TIMES SQUARE on New Year’s Eve.
Get in on the action…
TIMES SQUARE

©1980 Associated
Film Distribution

By popular demand (meaning Deb asked), here are close-ups of the inside pictures. Their actual size is pretty close to the thumbnails below, so the gallery will give a good view of the individual pixels.

 

 

“Robert Stigwood presents Times Square”
12 in (H) x 18 in (W) (folded) (work);
1080 px (W) x 718 px (H), 96 dpi, 525 kb (outside image)
1080 px (W) x 721 px (H), 96 dpi, 647 kb (inside image)

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

Post edited on 4 April 2015 to add the detail image gallery.

Times Square isn’t a punk picture”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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Mediascene Prevue ©1980 James Steranko