I think this was the first promotional piece I found after Times Square had come, been, and gone. (Not this copy, but I’ll get to that.) I don’t recall exactly where it came from… it was a tiny store dealing in rock memorabilia in Manhattan somewhere, probably between 34th and 4th Streets, west of Broadway… The poster wasn’t in great shape, but it had a bunch of pictures I’d never seen, so I immediately bought it and took it home and encountered the dilemma of which side to display. I filled the corners with pinholes and “Fun-Tak” stains as I flipped it over every month or so, but eventually settled on the red side (next post, hee hee) because I found it more aesthetically pleasing, in no small part because no matter how I hung this side, part of it was always upside down. Eventually, we moved, and I took it down, rolled it up, and put it away.
Years later, God invented the Internet, and I stumbled across someone selling this same item, in unused mint condition. I purchased it immediately of course, and during the transaction he mentioned he had more of them, and since at the time I could afford to do such silly things, I bought them all. They arrived in a single heavy envelope that remained unopened until a few weeks ago when I decided I needed good scans of all my Times Square posters.
I opened the envelope for the first time, and discovered an extremely nice letter from the seller that I’m sorry I hadn’t seen before. I slid out a few copies of the poster, checked to find one with the least damage from the machine that had folded them, and gingerly started to unfold it to see how to do it without accidentally tearing something, and that’s when I noticed…
(If it’s obvious to you, congratulations, you’re more observant than I. I’d never even suspected there was anything to notice.)
I guess it was because the copy I had back in the day had never been folded in its natural state, or if it had I was too eager to get it open, and when I stored it I rolled it up like you’re supposed to do with posters, but… as I was wondering how best to approach scanning such a huge item (in pieces stitched together with Microsoft Image Composite Editor, If you’re wondering), I noticed that the front and back of the folded item were complete images by themselves. And opening it, there was another complete image. And opening it once more, another one. And the next unfold revealed the other side.
It wasn’t a 2-sided poster, it was a 5-sided poster. This thing is an interactive promotional presentation for Times Square, the movie and the soundtrack. It’s a little movie trailer on paper. That explained something I’d always wondered about: what exactly was this thing for? Evidently it was distributed to theater owners, and maybe record stores, to drum up interest in booking the film and pre-ordering the record, with the red side an option to hang as a teaser poster.
The reason part of it was always upside down was, the blue side was never intended to be seen all at once. Only the other side was a poster. The blue side is supposed to be looked at as it unfolds, as I’m going to try to show below. In real life, each unfolding results in doubling the size of the image, but these images are all going to be about the same size, because it’s the Internet. If you pay me enough I’ll try to do more to replicate the experience of unfolding a big piece of paper.
2-sided TIMES SQUARE poster, folded front.
2-sided TIMES SQUARE poster, folded rear.
Times Square 2-sided promotional poster, unfolded once.
Times Square 2-sided poster, unfolded twice.
The “front cover” shows the final promotional logo for the movie. (The logo as used on and in the US Press Materials folder became the logo for the soundtrack.) The back has the movie credits.
The double-sided poster, designed by Seiniger & Associates, is the pinnacle of the artistic design for the film’s promotional materials. This is the only time that the text appears as strips of DYMO hand-embossed labels, a brilliant move to signify that you’re looking at something made cheaply by hand. (I was surprised and gratified to find they’re still being made; they were the height of label-making technology in the 1970s.) In all future posters, the text would be distressed typewriter-style lettering on uneven black stripes, and sometimes just white lettering on black stripes. Strangely, I didn’t realize that until this project: I always pictured all of the posters’ text appearing as it does here, evoking a punk DIY aesthetic echoing yet totally different from the cut-out ransom-note letters in Jamie Reid’s designs for the Sex Pistols.
The line using the DYMO typeface shown in the first unfolding (“There’s only one way and that’s running away and hanging out and setting yourself free”) does not appear in the film. It is, however, on page 127 of the May 1979 draft of the screenplay. The dialogue in the scene as shot is far better than what appears on the page, so it would appear that this was heavily rewritten and the poster designers were working from photos and an outdated screenplay. Although the soundtrack was locked (as is seen on the next unfold), no one had yet seen the movie, which was probably still being edited and re-edited. I don’t think any of the photos on this page appear anywhere else. I would love a full print of Nicky and Pammy in front of the adult book store.
The next unfolding reveals an ad for the soundtrack. The line here (“There’s nothing to do but play music and scream your lungs out”) is misquoted from the film, and oddly the screenplay has the line correctly. Either someone at Seiniger made an editorial decision, or the draft they were working from was an intermediate one in which Jacob Brackman had changed the line to this, and then changed it back before shooting. The photos again are immediately recognizable, but aren’t the shots from the film, and as of this writing I don’t think they appear anywhere else. The shot of Nicky and Pammy at the microphone is from before they blacked out the word “Rickenbacker” from the guitar’s headstock.
The image is split through the middle with a bit of the red poster showing through. Getting the poster’s edges to meet perfectly would have been extremely difficult, plus it was a good idea to make it obvious that there’s more unfolding to do. This is what really proved to me what this item was: I’d been looking at this for years without realizing that the top and bottom of the unfolded blue side were really the middle strip of a single image when it was folded this way. And a circular splatter of day-glo color, whose edges become musical notes… where have we seen something like that before? Oh yeah, here, where it’s a cloud of smoke. That’s another thing that makes me think that rejected poster is real: this design element that survives in a vastly improved form on the first official poster.
Coming up next: the full poster side.
[“Times Square” double-sided promotional poster, outside]
color, 39 in (H) x 25.75 in (W) (work);
715 px (W) x 1080 px (H), 518 kb (image)
THERE’S NOTHING TO DO BUT PLAY MUSIC AND SCREAM YOUR LUNGS OUT.
ROBERT STIGWOOD PRESENTS
STARRING TIM CURRY
TRINI ALVARADO ROBIN JOHNSON PETER COFFIELD HERBERT BERGHOF
SCREENPLAY BY JACOB BRACKMAN STORY BY ALAN MOYLE AND LEANNE UNGER
DIRECTED BY ALAN MOYLE PRODUCED BY ROBERT STIGWOOD
AND JACOB BRACKMAN
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS KEVIN McCORMICK AND JOHN NICOLELLA
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER BILL OAKES
UNDER 17 REQUIRES ACCOMPANYING PARENT OR ADULT GUARDIAN
SOUNDTRACK AVAILABLE ON RSO RECORDS AND TAPES
AN EMI RELEASE DISTRIBUTED BY AFD
EMI RSO® Records Inc. AFD ©1980 Associated Film Distribution
DESIGN: SEINIGER & ASSOCIATES
PRINTED IN U.S.A.
THERE’S ONLY ONE WAY AND THAT’S RUNNING AWAY AND HANGING OUT AND SETTING YOURSELF FREE.
THE ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK FROM THE MOTION PICTURE
2 RECORD SET
FEATURING MUSIC BY
“ROCK HARD” – SUZI QUATRO
“TALK OF THE TOWN” – THE PRETENDERS
“SAME OLD SCENE” – ROXY MUSIC
“DOWN IN THE PARK” – GARY NUMAN
“HELP ME!” – MARCY LEVY & ROBIN GIBB
“LIFE DURING WARTIME” – TALKING HEADS
“PRETTY BOYS” – JOE JACKSON
“TAKE THIS TOWN” – XTC
“I WANNA BE SEDATED” – THE RAMONES
“DAMN DOG” – ROBIN JOHNSON
“YOUR DAUGHTER IS ONE” – ROBIN JOHNSON & TRINI ALVARADO
“BABYLON’S BURNING” – THE RUTS
“YOU CAN’T HURRY LOVE” – D.L. BYRON
“WALK ON THE WILD SIDE” – LOU REED
“THE NIGHT WAS NOT” – DESMOND CHILD & ROUGE
“INNOCENT, NOT GUILTY” – GARLAND JEFFREYS
“GRINDING HALT” – THE CURE
“PISSING IN THE RIVER” – PATTI SMITH GROUP
“FLOWERS IN THE CITY” – DAVID JOHANSEN & ROBIN JOHNSON
Details from [“Times Square” double-sided promotional poster, outside]:
TIMES SQUARE double-sided promotional poster package, folded front
800 px (W) x 609 px (H), 96dpi, 220kb (image)
TIMES SQUARE double-sided promotional poster package, folded back
800 px (W) x 611 px (H), 96dpi, 278kb (image)
TIMES SQUARE double-sided promotional poster package, unfolded once
1080 px (W) x 408 px (H), 96dpi, 236kb (image)
TIMES SQUARE double-sided promotional poster package, unfolded twice
1080 px (H) x 1426 px (W), 96dpi, 733kb (image)
TIMES SQUARE, p. 127
Screenplay by Jacob Brackman
Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+