Sunday, November 21, 2010

A few words about Allan Moyle's 1980 proto-punkette film TIMES SQUARE.

It's unlikely that Allan Moyle's TIMES SQUARE will resurface on DVD, unless Universal Pictures (the current owner) wants to issue it as a print-on-demand offering.

Moyle's best known for two other teen-centered cult films, PUMP UP THE VOLUME and EMPIRE RECORDS.  But TIMES SQUARE was an attempt by producer Robert Stigwood to create a punk/New Wave variant of SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, with Trini Alvarado as a sheltered Shirley Feeney-type playing off Robin Johnson's Laverne De Fazio/Joan Jett archetype.  According to Moyle's comments at yesterday's screening at L.A.'s Silent Movie Theatre, there was a mild same-sex romance between the two characters, but this was removed by Stigwood before the film's October 1980 release (though some vestiges of it remain in the theatrical print--particularly Johnson's anguished pour-out-my-heart-in-song scene at Tim Curry's radio station).

When I saw TIMES SQUARE in 1980, I disliked the film's venturing into unrealistic (the griminess, and dog-eat-dog behavior of Times Square of that period was, even to the eyes of this then non-urban viewer, somewhat oversanitized)  over-the-top ludicrousness.  Thirty years later, I can see a mixture of what Moyle called "corny" as well as some heartfelt attempts at criticizing pressures to "conform", plus the mindset that any kind of "punk" rebellion was best treated with drugs and institutionalizing.

And, in retrospect, the cartoonish city official character who is the father of Alvarado's Pamela presages Rudolph Giuliani's later successful efforts to re-invent Times Square as a tourist-friendly corporate theme park.

Final note: Trini Alvarado has a whip-my-hair moment that presages Willow Smith by about three decades.

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