Monday, May 16, 2011

Times Square

Nicky and Pamela are two very different people. Nicky is tough girl, a teenage runaway, used to living on the streets, used to taking care of herself. She's loud, brash, and more than a little unstable. Pamela is shy, demure, the pampered daughter of a rich politician.

One thing they do have in common: Both are locked up in the psych ward of a New York hospital.

The two quickly form a bond and it's not long before they break out of the hospital. The girls take up residence in an abandoned warehouse and start hustling on Times Square. But three card monte isn’t a reliable gig, so Pam gets a job dancing in a strip club. Did I mention she’s 14? Fortunately it’s not as seedy as it sounds, as Pam refuses to take off her clothes, yet still rakes in the tips.

Pamela's politico daddy is up in arms, convinced Nicky has kidnapped his daughter. But Pam and Nicky set the record straight, using local DJ Johnny LaGuardia as their go-between. LaGuardia narrates the unfolding drama for his listeners, turning the girls into minor celebrities.

It's not long before Pam and Nicky have formed a punk cabaret act called the Sleaze Sisters. Their trademark seems to be randomly throwing TV sets off Manhattan high rises. When not creating mayhem with appliances, the two show up at LaGuardia’s for impromptu jams featuring lyrics such as "Spic, nigger, faggot, bum/Your daughter is one."

It's a great little tune in a soundtrack filled with great tunes. You'd be hard pressed to find a finer soundtrack capturing the post punk scene of the late 70s. Included are songs by XTC, Joe Jackson, Gary Numan, The Pretenders, Roxy Music and venerable New Yorkers Patti Smith, Lou Reed, and Talking Heads. And of course there is a song by The Ramones.

The film climaxes with the Sisters performing a gig atop a marquee on Times Square. Hundreds of disaffected girls show up, but so do the cops. Will the police nab Nicky, or will she escape their clutches? Will Pam be reunited with her distraught father? Will the gig end with all those teenaged girls rioting?

Oh well, I don't need to tell you it all works out okay for everyone, even Andy Gibb. For some unfathomable reason he gets the final song on the soundtrack. Father and daughter hug as the music swells, and we’re left scratching our head wondering where the fuck that came from. I guess punk really is dead.

Directed by Allan Moyle • R • 1980 • 111 minutes

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