The Times Square Story

Overview

A delirious, brilliantly written fictional aria on the sleazy glory that was once Times Square — illustrated with dozens of vintage photographs and B-movie stills.
" . . . so this picture we're talking about is The Times Square Story this is New York, show biz, crossroads of the world, entertainment capital, international center for scope and variety and pacing, everything open after midnight, not just a bunch of dumb gangsters pushing people around, this one has jazz, exotic ...

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New York, NY, U.S.A. 1998 Soft cover New 039331846X Short felt pen remainder line on bottom page edges. Lower outer corner of rear cover has crease mark. Numerous black & white ... photographs. Read more Show Less

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Overview

A delirious, brilliantly written fictional aria on the sleazy glory that was once Times Square — illustrated with dozens of vintage photographs and B-movie stills.
" . . . so this picture we're talking about is The Times Square Story this is New York, show biz, crossroads of the world, entertainment capital, international center for scope and variety and pacing, everything open after midnight, not just a bunch of dumb gangsters pushing people around, this one has jazz, exotic nightlife, hipster talk, blacks tights, psychoanalysis . . . " Imagine Damon Runyon on speed, with a graduate degree in cultural studies and access to the world's most extensive video archive of low-budget exploitation films, and you'll get some idea of the ultra-hip mind-movie that is Geoffrey O'Brien's The Times Square Story. It evokes the one-time glitter, the glamour, and the grunge of this fabled piece of real estate before it became Disneyfied — its grind houses and strip joints and freak shows and novelty stores and night clubs and peep shows and fleabag hotels. The Times Square Story also celebrates the world of below-the-line filmmaking as the kid, the producer, the broken-down actor, and Miss Columbus 1952 struggle to bring Fury of Macumba to the big screen-their artistic impulses crippled by financial reality and human frailty. With more than fifty evocative photographs from the golden era of this mythic patch of asphalt, The Times Square Story is a roller-coaster ride through gaudy, seedy, glorious cultural territory.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Black-and-white photographs of billboards, seductively worded marquees and steamy film stills illustrate O'Brien's Hard-boiled America graphic scenario for an imaginary movie about life in Times Square in the early 1950s. A young hayseed freshly discharged from the Army arrives at the exploding "crossroads of the world" and is swiftly swallowed up by the promise of "jazz, exotic nightlife, hipster talk, black tights, psychoanalysis." O'Brien attempts to capture the feel of the era with raw, bare-knuckled prose; his director aims to assault the viewer relentlessly with "every kind of noise and spectacle, neon, high heels, lipstick, taxicabs, quick stabs." However, it becomes clear, long before the story degenerates into a sleazy tale of suburban whoring, accompanied by B-movie clips of drunken strip-poker parties, that his Times Square story represents the cinematographic middle-class fantasies familiar from the admittedly, unillustrated montages of, for instance, Robert Coover. Still, O'Brien's staccato narrative is an energetic and most entertaining glimpse of a legendary area in New York that--for better or worse--exists no more. Oct.
Kirkus Reviews
Photocelebration of Times Square at its sleaziest with subfictional lyrical intertexts that sound like Ed Wood writing low-budget pages of Jack Kerouac with a storyline held together by lint about a country guy having his eyes blown out by Times Square's wattage and going weak in the knees while directors producing grunge films that make Plan 9 from Outer Space sound like la crˆme suprˆme in one 96-page run-on photo sequence and sentence without periods or wide commercial potential offers jaded drug addicts who meet transplanted Corsican mobsters laughing in dark glasses while the producer hustles the no-rent actors in his big stable and makes a thriller almost too glassy-eyed even for Times Square and the reader sits staring into space or at a dying vacuum tube while smoke rings pour from the sailor's mouth on the Camels sign and snowbirds and used-up dips blackmail small-time perverts for years and freelance photographers peddle to girlie magazines pictures of schoolteachers who have taken up stripping and then when the sun comes up it's all over and the wide-eyed kid can't believe it's over and sits back in his flop in the Dixie Hotel listening to Clifford Brown with Strings. Somewhat less coherent than O'Brien's The Phantom Empire (1993) but with a hip verve that may appeal to lovers of trasho mondo and hot-wax torture scenes. (50 b&w photos)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393318463
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/17/1998
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Geoffrey O'Brien is a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books and the author of Hard-Boiled America and Dream-Time: Chapters from the Sixties. He lives in New York City.

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