Times Square UK Pressbook, 1980-81, pages 8-12

Posted on 22nd September 2018 in "Times Square"
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UK Press Book for TIMES SQUARE, p. 8, with additional articles on the cast, part 1.  Text:  TIM CURRY ACTING RARITY -- SKILLED IN MODERN AND CLASSIC      The performances of Tim Curry have displayed a remarkable range and dazzling versatility. A cult hero for his portrayal of the outrageous rock star in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show", Curry is'a classically trained actor with an impressive list of stage and screen credits.     Curry now is starred in a contemporary role, playing an opportunistic, hyper-kinetic Mew York disc jockey who gives his all-night listeners a running account of the adventures of two runaways, in “Times Square”.     Bom in Cheshire, England, Curry studied classical drama at Birmingham University before winning his first professional job to sing and dance in the original London cast of “Hair”. Shortly thereafter, he appeared in three Royal Shakespeare Company productions - “Titus Andronicus”, David Mercer’s “After Haggerty”, and as Puck in Benjamin Britten’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. In 1976, Curry was featured on Broadway in Tom Stoppard’s Tony Award-winning “Travesties”.     Tim Curry’s film roles also include Jerzy Skolimowski’s “The Shout”, which won the 1978 Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and was featured that year in the New York Film Festival.      For the BBC-TV, Curry played the title role in a six-part series, “The Life of Shakespeare", and appeared in "Three Men in a Boat", Stoppard's adaptation of a Victorian comedy classic.      Curry is an accomplished singer and songwriter with two successful rock albums, “Read My Lips" and “Fearless”, to his credit His third album is to be released later this year.   “TIMES SQUARE” STAR ROBIN JOHNSON IS A NATURAL IN SCREEN BOW       At some time in the future Brooklyn’s Technological High School steps may become legendary as the spot where a star was “born", the 1980 equivalent to Hollywood's Schwab’s Drugstore. On those steps and waiting for classes to begin, 15-year-old Robin Johnson was discovered by an (unknown) casting scout on the lookout for possible candidates for the leading role in “Times Square”.      “He gave me this card and said to call this number if I was interested in being in a movie”, Robin recalls in her inimitable Brooklyn-accented speech. “I thought: Wow! Another wise guy. But I gave it a shot."      What Robin didn’t know at the time was that the film's director, Alan Moyle, who had written the original story for “Times Square” with Leanne Unger, was determined to cast only the young actress who would be precisely right for the crucial central role of Nicky Marotta, a spunky teenager loose and without adult supervision, determined to become a rock star. The talent search already had bypassed many of the traditional avenues and scoured youth centres, punk rock clubs, and placed ads in papers such as the Village Voice, Soho News, and Aquarian.      “We are looking for someone who WAS Nicky", Moyle admits. “Robin is definitely not that doomed child. Luckily for the film, Robin brought a lot more humour to the character than what I had originally envisioned. Her youthful innocence and energy boost what might have been played as too much of a downer.”      Without any previous experience (“I had sung in a choir when I was 12"), Robin won the role over literally hundreds of other candidates. Upon winning the role, she entered an intensive programme of singing lessons and a dance and movement regimen. Making this film meant that the novice had to be transformed quickly into a seasoned professional. Robin worked seven days straight for 12 weeks. As a minor, the new “star" had to continue her studies with a tutor on the set and more learning sessions on Saturdays. On Sundays, recording or dancing demands took up the day. Veteran members of the New York film crew were dazzled by the professionalism of both Robin and her even younger co-star, 12-year-old Trini Alvarado. Both exhibited an almost non-stop flow of dedication, energy, high spirits and raucous good humour.      Robin Johnson lives with her older sister Cindy and their mother in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn, New York. Born May 29, 1964, Robin never gave any thought to becoming an actress until “Times Square". Her inclination previously ran to sketching ("I'm not into landscapes; give me cartoons with some people in there”) and whenever the opportunity arose, banging on drums. And although she first started “dating” when she was 11, she’s not worried about permanent relationships at this point in her life. "I'm closest with my sister Cindy, who’s a year older. We’re both Geminis and I like to argue, especially in a friendly way.”      As do many young women her age, Robin can identify with Nicky’s rebelliousness and non-conformity, traits which land Nicky in trouble with the law and into the arms of a concerned social worker. “Nicky can’t put things over on her like she does with others", Robin   TRINI ALVARADO-SHOW BUSINESS “PRO” AT 13       Most 13-year-old girls spend their waking hours contemplating that cute boy in school, the newest Andy Gibb record or when they’ll wear their first pair of high heels. But not Trini Alvarado, who has been deep into the psyche of runaway Pamela Pearl, the girl she portrays in "Times Square”, an October release from AFD (Associated Film Distribution).      Sitting on an abandoned Manhattan waterfront pier -- one of the many diverse “Times Square” locations -- Trini concentrated on her scenes for one of the most challenging roles she will experience in her still-young screen career.      Following a sensational film debut in Robert Altman’s “Rich Kids", Trini was cast as a teenage runaway in “Times Square". Her character, Pamela Pearl, is the only child of a widower-father whose career as a rising young politician makes him insensitive to his daughter’s growing pains. Pamela is withdrawn, inhibited, convinced that she is awkward, ugly and unable to express herself verbally. The role is beautifully realised, but the actress herself is hardly the image of that withdrawn, rebellious teenager.      Trini was a “show biz” baby. Her father, who came to this country from Spain, is a classical singer and guitarist, and her mother is a flamenco dancer. Trini’s earliest memories include performing songs and dancing in nightclubs with the entire family. “It was always like a party”, she recalls.      Trini first appeared on Broadway in the Tony-nominated musical “Runaways", and then in the film “Rich Kids”, for which she also sang the theme song. Now, in “Times Square", Trini encores her singing and dancing.      “She’s so good”, one of the film’s creative personnel observed, “that we held to work hard to make Trini look a little awkward. After all, her character of Pamela is at that stage where she feels disconnected with her body. We had to disguise the fact that Trini’s a trained dancer."      An added bonus for Trini on “Times Square” was the friendship she formed with co-star Robin Johnson.      “Casting is a risky business", commented director Alan Moyle, "and we certainly looked everywhere before going with Trini and Robin. But you can’t predict how two people will relate on the screen, until you see it. The chemistry that we have up there is larger-than-life, but truly a reflection of how well the two girls got along during

 

 

The second half of the US pressbook was entirely made up of variations of the movie poster for different sized newspaper ads. The UK version relegates the available promotional materials to the last three pages, and devotes pages 8, 9, and 10 to reprinting biographical articles from the US Press Material folder. It’s strange how some of this material was rewritten for the UK press kit, but those versions weren’t used for the UK pressbook. Perhaps the pressbook was prepared well in advance of the press kit. Although, the pressbook uses the finished art for the UK movie poster. So, it’s a mystery.

 

Another tantalizing mystery is exactly what may have been included in the sets of 50 black and white stills, 8 8×10″ color stills, and 16 11×14″ color stills. Is 50 the total number of shots from the series I’ve found about 16 of so far? There were 8 8×10″ color lobby cards… I haven’t come across any 11×14″ stills. And what transparencies were available? Are they the slides that turn up so rarely? And what were the “blow-ups, any size available”?

 

 

On page 10, the photo of Robin is TS-57-26/1, UK number 36, the photo by Yoram Kahana used for the North American movie poster and the soundtrack album cover. The photo of Tim Curry comes from the shooting of the twenty second scene where Johnny is informed that “the Zombie Girl is the daughter of the boy wonder at the mayor’s office, and she’s missing,” and may be making its only appearance here. The unusually sultry photo of Trini Alvarado is making its first appearance here, as far as I know, but was later printed in the February 1981 Film Review.

You can read the text of “‘Times Square’ Star Robin Johnson Is A Natural In Screen Bow” here. If anyone is desperate to read the read of the articles, let me know and I’ll post the text.

 

 

Times Square pressbook, pp. 8-12
UK : pressbook (theatre manual) : AAT ID: 300213184 : 35.7 x 27.8 cm. : 1980 (work);
TIMES_SQUARE_UK_Pressbook_p08_1080px.jpg
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1080 x 844 px, 96 dpi, 466 kb (images)


 
Times Square©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

Times Square UK Pressbook, 1980-81, pages 1-5

Posted on 10th September 2018 in "Times Square"
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UK Press Book, cover  Text:  "GO SLEAZE!" ... IN TIMES SQUARE  TIMES SQUARE  EMI A Member of the THORN EMI Group.

I’d given up all hope of ever finding one of these when, bam, two of them turn up. It’s the EMI version of the pressbook issued in the USA by AFD. It’s shorter in page count, but larger in size, and printed in color on heavier, glossier paper.

It doesn’t include all the articles suggesting inventive ways to promote the movie at your theater, but does include the articles describing the cast and filmmakers. In fact, it includes more about the producers than the AFD pressbook did (which was nothing at all). Most of the text is directly from the US press kit.

The UK press kit didn’t include a synopsis of the movie, but there was a sheet distributed with the credits and a synopsis that was different from the one in the US press kit and pressbook. That sheet is essentially reproduced on pages 2 and 3 here, with translations of the synopsis into French and Spanish. This synopsis includes the scene of Nicky attacking “roadies” from the disco with her switchblade, which appeared in the May 1979 draft of the screenplay, but was never filmed as the scene and Nicky’s character had changed in the meantime.

On pages 4 and 5, the capsule bios of Robin, Trini, Tim Curry, Allan Moyle, Jacob Brackman, John Nicollela, and Bill Oakes, and the half-page on Robert Stigwood, all come word-for-word from the US press kit. The equivalent bios in the UK press kit are worded differently. None of the text so far, other than the film and music credits, appeared in the US pressbook.

 

The shot of Tim Curry on page 4 is cropped from TS-66-28/8 which was distributed in the US press kit and appeared on page 4 of the US pressbook. The shot of Robin as Nicky is not from the film, but was taken at the time of shooting, and as far as I know never appeared anywhere else. The shot of Trini as Pammy dancing in the Cleo Club looks damned familiar, but I only seem to have this unpublished shot that was taken seconds before or after. There are at least two other shots from this moment but neither are this one. I may have finally accumulated so much Times Square stuff that I just can’t keep track of it all despite my best efforts.

If there’s any huge outcry to read the text, I’ll edit this post to add it.

 

 

Times Square pressbook, pp. 1-5
UK : pressbook (theatre manual) : AAT ID: 300213184 : 35.7 x 27.8 cm. : 1980 (work);

TIMES_SQUARE_UK_Pressbook_p01_1080px.jpg
1080 x 841 px, 96 dpi, 398 kb
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1080 x 836 px, 96 dpi, 680 kb (images)

 
Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

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Film Review Vol. 31 No. 2, February 1981

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

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

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

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

HARD TIMES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

Hard times (article, AAT ID: 300048715)
Film Review Vol. 31 No. 2, February 1981, p. 47 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389)
29.6 x 21.2 cm. (work);
1981-02 TS Film Review Feb 1981 V31 N2 – 0002_1080px.jpg
1080 px (H) x 771 px (W), 96 dpi, 520 kb
1981-02 TS Film Review Feb 1981 V31 N2 – 0004_p3_detail_800px.jpg
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1981-02 TS Film Review Feb 1981 V31 N2 – 0007_1080px.jpg
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1981-02 TS Film Review Feb 1981 V31 N2 – 0007_image_1_800px.jpg
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1981-02 TS Film Review Feb 1981 V31 N2 – 0007_image_3_800px.jpg
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(images)
 

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

Robin and Trini “Bandphotos”, UK 1981

Posted on 18th June 2018 in "Times Square"
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More recently-turned-up Times Square publicity from England. Exactly how these fit in with the rest of it, I’m not sure. I’m guessing they were relatively early UK publicity, since the photos still have the American numbers on them. Perhaps before their own publicity machine got going, EMI contracted with Alan Band to send out photos of the stars. So, maybe there’s a Tim Curry Bandphoto out there somewhere as well.

The photo of Robin is her out-of-costume headshot, the only one she or any of the cast got. We’ve previously seen the American version and another UK version distributed by ITC, one of the movie’s co-producing companies. Looking at them now, the US version has been shrunk to fit with the AFD caption at the bottom, while the ITC version looks like its caption stripe has been placed over top of this Bandphoto version. The Bandphoto caption has been severely edited from the one accompanying the other two, which read “Robin Johnson makes her motion picture acting and singing debut after being discovered by chance at her high school in Brooklyn for the co-starring role with Tim Curry and Trini Alvarado in ‘Times Square.'”

The photo of Trini in costume as Pammy is the one used on the US movie poster and the soundtrack album cover. It was included in the US Press Material folder and appeared in the AFD Campaign Pressbook. The Bandphoto caption, judging by the initials, was edited by Alan Band himself to be far more breathlessly exciting than the US caption had been (“Trini Alvarado, who made an impressive screen debut in Robert Altman’s “Rich Kids,” now is co-starred with Robin Johnson and portrays Pamela Pearl, troubled daughter of an ambitious politician, who becomes a runaway and a rebel against authority in “Times Square.”)

The blue Bandphoto stamps read:

MUST
RETURN

CREDIT
BANDPHOTO
ALAN BAND ASSOCIATES
25 LONGDOWN ROAD
FARNHAM, SURREY, ENGLAND

I’m surprised that this particular photo of Trini — this specific print — is maybe the only item I’ve found that’s showing any age-related image problems (the discoloration along her left cheek). Considering their age, all the Times Square items I’ve come across have held up remarkably well.

The previous posts mentioned above:

Robin Johnson’s Times Square Headshot, “TS-Spec.3”
Headshot, ITC version
Times Square Press Material folder (post 2 of 5)
AFD Campaign Pressbook (pages 1-4)

 

 

TS-Special/3
black-and-white photograph, AAT ID: 300128347
UK ; 22.9 x 20.1 cm. (work)
TS-Special 3 auto_1080px.jpg
1080 px (H) x 951 px (W), 96 dpi, 235 kb (image)

TS-Special 3 back_layers_1080px.jpg
1080 px (H) x 953 px (W), 96 dpi, 211 kb (image)

TS-11-25/5
black-and-white photograph, AAT ID: 300128347
UK ; 23.2 x 20.2 cm. (work)
TS-11-24-5 Trini headshot UK_auto_layers_1080px.jpg
1080 px (H) x 940 px (W), 96 dpi, 329 kb (image)

TS-11-24-5 Trini headshot UK_back_manual_layers_1080px.jpg
1080 px (H) x 940 px (W), 96 dpi, 257 kb (image)

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

15 or 16 UK Promo Photos

Posted on 6th June 2018 in "Times Square"
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As promised, here are all I have so far from the series of 8×10 black and white publicity stills from the UK, whose only true common denominator is that they have a small one- or two-digit number on a tiny inset square as part of the print. The typical still from the US has a handwritten string of letters and numbers. Some of these have captions pasted to their backs, some have “TIMES SQUARE” stamped on their backs, the ones that came with the UK Press Kit matched up with numbers on an enclosed caption sheet, although I don’t think my copy of that Press Kit was complete.

I’m not sure if I have fifteen or sixteen of these because there are two #4s. The highest number I have is 36, implying that there are twenty or twenty-one more out there somewhere.

In preparing this post, I noticed something. I have two copies of number 20, and they’re not identical.

The second copy is darker and cropped differently. I thought perhaps it was something I might have done when digitizing them, but the number is in a different place. It’s possible I made one look a little darker than the other, but I’m sure I didn’t crop away that much of the first one, and, well, the number is part of the print. It seems there may have been multiple printings of these stills. Perhaps the #4 of Pammy and her father is a reprint of a photo that’s supposed to have a different number, and whoever stuck the number on and printed it made a mistake.

The photos above previously appeared in these posts, except for the second copy of #20:

Times Square UK Press Kit (post 2 of 4)
Times Square UK Press Kit (post 3 of 4)
“6”
UK Promo Photos 4, 13, and 21, 1980-81
UK Promo Photos 20 and 26, 1980-81
UK Promo Photo #29
“34”
Nicky Marotta, 1980

 

 

Times Square publicity stills 1, 3, 4, 4 [2nd version], 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 13, 20, 20 [2nd version], 21, 26, 29, 34, 36
black-and-white photographs, AAT ID: 300128347
UK ; 20.3 x 25.4 cm. (works)

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

UK Promo Photos 4, 13, and 21, 1980-81

Posted on 25th May 2018 in "Times Square"
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Typically, shortly before my last post was published (but weeks after I’d initially written it), five more stills from the UK series turned up. Two were duplicates of numbers 20 and 29, but the others were new to me. They follow the series’ general conventions of being black and white 8×10″s with no border, a handwritten number on a tiny square inset along the bottom edge, and a paper strip taped to the back with a typed caption.

This first one I’d been passing up for maybe nearly a year, since Robin isn’t in it and it’s essentially a duplicate of TS-117-13/15, although less cropped, but I picked it up along with these others when I realized it was might be part of this series.

 One of a series of black and white 8x10" photos distributed in the UK in 1981 to promote TIMES SQUARE (1980).  The caption taped to the back is likely the caption from a different photo in the series:  Robin Johnson is a runaway teenage product of the streets who dreams of becoming a rock music star and lets nothing get in her way to make it to the top in"TIMES SQUARE".  "TIMES SQUARE" a contemporary drama with music starring Tim Curry, Robin Johnson and Trini Alverado, is a Robert Stigwood Presentation, produced by Stigwood and Jacob Brackman and directed by Alan Moyle from Brackman's screenplay, based on the story by Moyle and Leanne Unger, with Kevin McCormick and John Nicollela the executive producers and Bill Oakes the associate producer. "TIMES SQUARE" is distributed by Columbia-EMI-Warner.

I have some doubts over whether it truly belongs in this series, though, first because the caption sheet taped to the back seems to belong to a different photo, and doesn’t have the photo number on it:

Robin Johnson is a runaway teenage product of the streets who dreams of becoming a rock music star and lets nothing get in her way to make it to the top in “TIMES SQUARE”.
“TIMES SQUARE” a contemporary drama with music starring Tim Curry, Robin Johnson and Trini Alverado, is a Robert Stigwood Presentation, produced by Stigwood and Jacob Brackman and directed by Alan Moyle from Brackman’s screenplay, based on the story by Moyle and Leanne Unger, with Kevin McCormick and John Nicollela the executive producers and Bill Oakes the associate producer. “TIMES SQUARE” is distributed by Columbia-EMI-Warner.

Robin’s not in the photo, Trini’s name is spelled wrong, and the film distributors’ names are separated by dashes instead of slashes. In fact, the caption is identical to the one on the caption sheet attached to this photo of Robin from the US Press Material folder, except for the typos and the addition of the UK film distributors. The strangest thing is, though, I already have a photo #4 from this series, and it’s of Tim Curry. Both these photos are unmistakably labeled “4”. I’m keeping them both until I find out if one or the other doesn’t belong. I suspect this is the one that should be categorized somewhere else.

The other two are definitely part of this series:

#13 appeared in Photoplay Vol 32 No 1, January 1981, and in the Japanese souvenir program book. A copy of this photo is probably the source of those images.

#29 looks to have been taken within seconds of a shot that appeared cropped in the center of Japanese program book and on a lobby card I don’t have (but Karen Dean [DefeatedandGifted] does), and this color shot. Like that last one, this photo as far as I know was never published and may be making its first public appearance here. It’s probably safe to say that any shot of the performance of “Damn Dog” in the Cleo Club, like the 35mm slide, was taken at the same run-through as this one. None of these shots are of the performance given for the take in the film, even allowing for a different placement of the still and movie cameras.

I promised in the last post, which went up twelve days before this one but was written two months before, that I’d post a collection of all the photos I have from this series once I had fifteen of them, and I now have sixteen, counting both number 4s. So, that will be the next post.

Previous posts referenced above:

Times Square Press Material folder (post 3 of 5)
Times Square Press Material folder (post 4 of 5)
Times Square UK Press Kit (post 2 of 4)
Photoplay Vol 32 No 1, January 1981
Times Square Program Book, Japan, June 1981 (post 1 of 5)
Times Square Program Book, Japan, June 1981, pages 12-13 (post 5 of 5)
“Damn Dog”
Aggie Doon

 

 

Times Square publicity still 4 [2nd version]
black-and-white photograph, AAT ID: 300128347
UK ; 20.3 x 25.4 cm. (work)
Times_Square_UK_publicity_still_4_auto_1080px.jpg
864 px (H) x 1080 px (W), 96 dpi, 368 kb (image)

Times Square publicity still 13
black-and-white photograph, AAT ID: 300128347
UK ; 20.3 x 25.4 cm. (work)
Times_Square_UK_publicity_still_13_manual_1080px.jpg
864 px (H) x 1080 px (W), 96 dpi, 423 kb (image)

Times Square publicity still 21
black-and-white photograph, AAT ID: 300128347
UK ; 20.3 x 25.4 cm. (work)
Times_Square_UK_publicity_still_21_auto_1080px.jpg
866 px (H) x 1080 px (W), 96 dpi, 432 kb (image)

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

UK Promo Photos 20 and 26, 1980-81

Posted on 13th May 2018 in "Times Square"
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Times Square 8 x 10″ publicity stills from this series continue to turn up. The first ones I found, I didn’t realize where they had come from, but the UK Press Kit’s caption sheet that matched up with some of the numbers on the photos solved the mystery. Their distinguishing characteristic is a small handwritten identification number in a tiny inset square along the bottom edge. Some have “TIMES SQUARE” stamped on the back. These have captions typed on a strip of paper pasted to their backs.

Photo 20 is the most-used publicity still from the movie, with the exceptions of the headshots of Trini and Robin that were used for the North American movie poster and the soundtrack album cover. I listed its various appearances when it showed up in Film Review Vol. 31 No. 1. Not in that list is photoplay Vol. 32 No. 4, where it also appeared, three months later. This specific version, numbered 20, was used as half of one of the two-photos-on-one-print 8×10’s that had Robert Stigwood’s name misspelled. It would make sense if the other three of those images were part of this series, especially since the caption for this one is identical on both versions, but I can’t see any numbers on the others.

Photo 26 is making its first and only (as far as I know at the moment) appearance here. It was part of the UK series of stills, but not used in any other country, and never published in any magazine or newspaper. (That I’ve yet found, at least.) It was evidently taken at the same time as the shot of Johnny and Pammy used on the Italian lobby poster, which will also later be a German lobby card.

The captions pasted to the photo backs both include the text “A scene from “TIMES SQUARE” distributed by COLUMBIA/EMI/WARNER Film Distributors”, Columbia/EMI/Warner being the film’s distributor in the UK.

The highest number photo in this series I’ve yet found is 36. I have thirteen of them. If I get an even 15 I’ll put up a gallery of just them. Till then, you can see them in these posts:

Times Square UK Press Kit (post 2 of 4)
Times Square UK Press Kit (post 3 of 4)
“6”
the page you’re reading right now
UK Promo Photo #29
“34”
Nicky Marotta, 1980

 

[In the two months that elapsed between my writing this page and my writing this note, shortly before this post is scheduled to be published, I did indeed acquire two more pictures from this series, plus one more that looks like it belongs but has the same number as another photo… so they will go up as soon as I can get them ready, followed by a post showing them all at once.]

 

 

Times Square publicity still 20
black-and-white photograph, AAT ID: 300128347
UK ; 20.3 x 25.4 cm. (work)
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858 px (H) x 1080 px (W), 96 dpi, 92.7 kb (image)

 
Times Square publicity still 26
black-and-white photograph, AAT ID: 300128347
UK ; 20.3 x 25.4 cm. (work)
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865 px (H) x 1080 px (W), 96 dpi, 332 kb (image)
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Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

photoplay, Vol. 32 No. 4, April 1981

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

Good Times For Robin Johnson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Paul Wilson, “Good times for Robin Johnson” (excerpt from “The Paul Wilson column”) (article, AAT ID: 300048715)
photoplay, Vol. 32 No. 4, April 1981, p. 62 (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389)
29.8 cm (H) x 21.3 cm (W) (work);
Photoplay Vol 32 No 4 April 1981 p1_layers_1080px.jpg (cover)
1080 px (H) x 796 px (W), 96 dpi, 451 kb
Photoplay Vol 32 No 4 April 1981 p62_layers_1080px.jpg
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Photoplay Vol 32 No 4 April 1981 p62_detail_1080px_rev.jpg (arranged detail)
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photoplay ©1981 The Illustrated Publications Company Limited

 

Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+

 

 

I Wanna Be Sedated

Posted on 8th October 2017 in "Times Square"
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I made another exception to my vow not to collect any more soundtrack-related items, because this one has a picture of Robin on it.

It’s the UK version of the Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated” single as released by RSO as a Times Square soundtrack tie-in. I might have bought it anyway, just for the fantastic illustration on the front of the picture sleeve. Luckily for me, the back of the sleeve reproduces the soundtrack album cover, so it’s a legitimate Robin Johnson collectible as well as a Ramones collectible.

 

 

The cover reproduced seems to be, however, a variant I don’t have anywhere else, where Nicky’s lapel button, which usually bears a picture of Johnny LaGuardia, is blank red, but not the featureless red of the Canadian version. This one has a light reflection painted along its upper rim, like the one that appears on the versions with Johnny on it, except no Johnny. It’s like an intermediate version that hasn’t been finished. I still don’t understand why there are so many different variant covers, all centered around what if anything is pinned to Nicky’s lapel.

“I Wanna Be Sedated” had been taken from 1978’s Road to Ruin. The b-side of the single, “The Return of Jackie and Judy,” was taken from the Ramones’ current album at the time, End of the Century, and wouldn’t have been entirely out of place itself in the movie’s soundtrack.

 

 

I’ve previously made mention of the Spanish release of this single, of which I have a photo but not the actual item.

 

 

Ramones “I Wanna Be Sedated” b/w “The Return of Jackie and Judy”, 45 rpm record (AAT ID: 300265800) with picture sleeve (AAT ID: 300266823), England, 1980. RSO 70 (2090 512) ℗1978 Sire Records Inc. ℗1980 Sire Records Inc. © 1980 RSO Records Ltd (work)
Ramones_I_Wanna_Be_Sedated_45_1980_RSO_70_sleeve_front_1080px.jpg, Ramones_I_Wanna_Be_Sedated_45_1980_RSO_70_sleeve_back_1080px.jpg, Ramones_I_Wanna_Be_Sedated_45_1980_RSO_70_side_a_1080px.jpg, Ramones_I_Wanna_Be_Sedated_45_1980_RSO_70_side_b_1080px.jpg (images)

 

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