Saint Jack


1h 55m 1979
Saint Jack

Brief Synopsis

Absorbing character study of an amiable, ambitious pimp who thrives in Singapore during the early 1970s. Directed by Peter Bogdanovich, based on Paul Theroux's novel.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
1979

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 55m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color

Synopsis

Jack Flowers is an expatriate in Singapore who is willing to make his living legally or illegally. After getting by helping American and British businessmen find women, Jack succeeds in opening a brothel, but before long the local mob puts him out of business. So he starts working for Eddie Schuman as a pimp for soldiers on leave from Vietnam. But when Schuman hires him to blackmail a Senator with compromising photos, Jack's conscience begings to get the best of him.

Crew

Louis Armstrong

Song Performer

Louis Armstrong

Song

John Barry

Song

Shirley Bassey

Song Performer

Peter Bogdanovich

Screenplay

Leslie Bricusse

Song

Roy Edward Burris

Song

William Carruth

Editor

Johnny Cash

Song Performer

Richard Chew

Set Decorator

Agnes Chia

Casting

Mag City

Sound Editor

Roger Corman

Producer

Sophie Cornu

Assistant Editor

Denys Deferre-granier

Assistant Director

Claude Doral

Location Manager

Graham Freeborn

Makeup

Elizabeth Gazzara

Production Assistant

Merle Haggard

Song

Merle Haggard

Song Performer

Hugh M Hefner

Executive Producer

Howard Hirdler

Post-Production Assistant

Patrick Kirck

Script Supervisor

Morna Ko

Other

Kris Kristofferson

Song

George Morfogen

Associate Producer

Robby Muller

Director Of Photography

Robby Muller

Dp/Cinematographer

Anthony Newley

Song

David Ng

Art Director

Lorita Ong

Costume Supervisor

Edward L. Rissien

Executive Producer

Jean-pierre Ruh

Sound

Robin Ruse-rinehart

Assistant Director

Howard Sackler

Screenplay

Allan Smith

Post-Production Assistant

Susan Strmoe

Assistant Editor

Tony Swee Park Yeow

Unit Manager

Sonny Tan

Assistant Director

Tjacn Teck Leng Tan

Assistant Director

Paul Theroux

Screenplay

Paul Theroux

Source Material (From Novel)

Pim Tjujerman

Camera Assistant

Sally Tunnicliffe

Casting

Hugo Van Baren

Key Grip

Louise Walker

Costume Supervisor

Janet Weinberg

Assistant Editor

Ray West

Sound

Janet Wienberg

Assistant Editor

Clarence Williams

Song

Clarence Williams

Music

Spencer Williams Jr.

Song

Spencer Williams Jr.

Music

Lucius Wong

Set Decorator

Edward Young

Props

Videos

Movie Clip

Saint Jack (1979) -- (Movie Clip) Open, Always A Good Investment Opening with a pan mighty close to 360 degrees, director Peter Bogdanovich, back in the orbit of old friend producer Roger Corman, buys himself a big slice of Singapore, and introduces Ben Gazzara as the title character and his relations with gofer Gopi (Joseph Noël), in Saint Jack, 1979, from Paul Theroux’s novel and screenplay with Bogdanovich and Howard Sackler.
Saint Jack (1979) -- (Movie Clip) No No, Kong Hong! Ben Gazzara (title character who, we’re learning, is an honest pimp with a cleaner legit job) entertains Hong Kong businessman Leigh (Denholm Elliott) with a visit to his Singapore Brit barfly friends, Joss Ackland, James Villiers (as voluble Froggett), Rodney Bewes and Mark Kingston, in Peter Bogdanovich’s Saint Jack, 1979.
Saint Jack (1979) -- (Movie Clip) Good Lover Bad Husband Ben Gazzara (the title character, a benevolent American ex-pat pimp in Singapore) takes care of an older friend helping him finance his own new brothel, then has an interview with a prospective professional (Monika Subramanian), in Peter Bogdanovich’s Saint Jack, 1979, with the popular Louis Armstrong recording of Oscar Peterson’s “Basin Street Blues.”
Saint Jack (1979) -- (Movie Clip) Nothing To Do With The Animal At the Singapore airport Ben Gazzara (title character), executing an errand for his Chinese businessman boss, works his contacts and picks up English Leigh (Denholm Elliott), Andrew Chua driving the cab, Peter Bogdanovich directing from the script he co-wrote with novelist Paul Theroux and Howard Sackler, in Saint Jack, 1979.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
1979

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 55m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color

Articles

Saint Jack


After three successive flops with Daisy Miller (1974), At Long Last Love (1975) and Nickelodeon (1976), director Peter Bogdanovich had to go outside the major studios for his next film. He returned to his roots, to Roger Corman and New World Pictures, where he had started his career. New World would produce Saint Jack (1979), a melancholic portrait of an American pimp in Singapore, adapted from the novel by Paul Theroux, and anchored by a soulfully stoic performance from Ben Gazzara.

Theroux's book was recommended to Bogdanovich and his girlfriend Cybill Shepherd by Orson Welles. The rights to the novel were owned by Playboy Productions, the movie arm of Hugh Hefner's magazine. Shepherd was involved in a $9 million lawsuit against the magazine for publishing unauthorized photographs - and the rights to Saint Jack became part of the settlement. Hefner would be credited as an executive producer.

Bogdanovich suspected the subject matter, which focuses on the sex trade, would not be well-received by the Singaporean government, so he pitched them a fake film, titled Jack of Hearts, that he described as a "cross between Pal Joey and Love is a Many Splendored Thing." Jack of Hearts was accepted, but Bogdanovich, along with his star Ben Gazzara, would go on to film Saint Jack instead. This would require all sorts of evasions and lies to the state authorities, but somehow they got out of the country with a completed film. As soon as the truth came out, the film was banned in the country and remained so until 2006. The full story is in Ben Slater's Kinda Hot: The Making of Saint Jack in Singapore.

Paul Theroux adapted his own book for the screenplay, along with Bogdanovich and Howard Sackler. It follows Jack Flowers, a Korean War vet and small-time pimp in Singapore. His dream is to open up a high-class brothel in a disused colonial estate, though he is undercut by local gangsters who think he is intruding on their territory. Along the way, Jack strikes up a friendship with William Leigh (Denholm Elliott), a sickly accountant who sees in Jack a kind of principled freedom. He is the opposite of the remaining Brits, a dissolute lot still exhibiting the decay of the colonial administration. Jack is free of any ties, whether national or personal, until he gets into the clutches of the US Army by way of Eddie Schuman (Bogdanovich) - providing prostitutes for Vietnam War vets on leave. Schuman is the snare trying to pull Flowers back into the network of Western society, which promises money and moral rot.

Ben Gazzara anchors the film, playing Flowers with a gruff, upright gravitas. In the Chicago Reader Dave Kehr specified his accomplishment: "Gazzara draws his consummate self-possession, his boxer's stance, and his sly smiles in the face of adversity from a long-lost film tradition: the performance is assured and seamless and dead-ahead in a way that seems all but anachronistic in the self-doubting cinema of the '70s." He has a clipped, no-nonsense style that radiates authenticity. He has never dissembled a day in his life, cannot abide the daily glad-handing and niceties of social interaction. Instead he is genuinely interested in everyone he encounters, charmingly asking after everyone's children, and is legitimately interested in the answer.

Leigh is envious of, and fascinated by, this seeming freedom from rules. They have an odd couple relationship, Leigh uptight and middle class where Jack is perpetually loose and seemingly classless, riding up and down the social ladder wherever his business takes him. His brusque, unexpected character was built off of a Howard Hawks quote. In a Q&A transcribed in The Guardian, Bogdanovich says, "we decided to try to make a picture where all the obligatory scenes didn't exist. This was slightly based on something Howard Hawks had said to me once, 'There are certain scenes that the audience expects. And when you don't give it to them, they're so happy.'" So they cut out anything that seemed expected or obligatory - anything where Jack seeks revenge for his losses or anything approaching heroism. Instead, he sloughs everything off like a duck, refusing to engage on standard terms. The ending is especially curt, a 180 degree turn away from Eddie Schuman and financial stability and back into the streets, tossed off with a majestically devil-may-care "Fuck it."

By R. Emmet Sweeney
Saint Jack

Saint Jack

After three successive flops with Daisy Miller (1974), At Long Last Love (1975) and Nickelodeon (1976), director Peter Bogdanovich had to go outside the major studios for his next film. He returned to his roots, to Roger Corman and New World Pictures, where he had started his career. New World would produce Saint Jack (1979), a melancholic portrait of an American pimp in Singapore, adapted from the novel by Paul Theroux, and anchored by a soulfully stoic performance from Ben Gazzara. Theroux's book was recommended to Bogdanovich and his girlfriend Cybill Shepherd by Orson Welles. The rights to the novel were owned by Playboy Productions, the movie arm of Hugh Hefner's magazine. Shepherd was involved in a $9 million lawsuit against the magazine for publishing unauthorized photographs - and the rights to Saint Jack became part of the settlement. Hefner would be credited as an executive producer. Bogdanovich suspected the subject matter, which focuses on the sex trade, would not be well-received by the Singaporean government, so he pitched them a fake film, titled Jack of Hearts, that he described as a "cross between Pal Joey and Love is a Many Splendored Thing." Jack of Hearts was accepted, but Bogdanovich, along with his star Ben Gazzara, would go on to film Saint Jack instead. This would require all sorts of evasions and lies to the state authorities, but somehow they got out of the country with a completed film. As soon as the truth came out, the film was banned in the country and remained so until 2006. The full story is in Ben Slater's Kinda Hot: The Making of Saint Jack in Singapore. Paul Theroux adapted his own book for the screenplay, along with Bogdanovich and Howard Sackler. It follows Jack Flowers, a Korean War vet and small-time pimp in Singapore. His dream is to open up a high-class brothel in a disused colonial estate, though he is undercut by local gangsters who think he is intruding on their territory. Along the way, Jack strikes up a friendship with William Leigh (Denholm Elliott), a sickly accountant who sees in Jack a kind of principled freedom. He is the opposite of the remaining Brits, a dissolute lot still exhibiting the decay of the colonial administration. Jack is free of any ties, whether national or personal, until he gets into the clutches of the US Army by way of Eddie Schuman (Bogdanovich) - providing prostitutes for Vietnam War vets on leave. Schuman is the snare trying to pull Flowers back into the network of Western society, which promises money and moral rot. Ben Gazzara anchors the film, playing Flowers with a gruff, upright gravitas. In the Chicago Reader Dave Kehr specified his accomplishment: "Gazzara draws his consummate self-possession, his boxer's stance, and his sly smiles in the face of adversity from a long-lost film tradition: the performance is assured and seamless and dead-ahead in a way that seems all but anachronistic in the self-doubting cinema of the '70s." He has a clipped, no-nonsense style that radiates authenticity. He has never dissembled a day in his life, cannot abide the daily glad-handing and niceties of social interaction. Instead he is genuinely interested in everyone he encounters, charmingly asking after everyone's children, and is legitimately interested in the answer. Leigh is envious of, and fascinated by, this seeming freedom from rules. They have an odd couple relationship, Leigh uptight and middle class where Jack is perpetually loose and seemingly classless, riding up and down the social ladder wherever his business takes him. His brusque, unexpected character was built off of a Howard Hawks quote. In a Q&A transcribed in The Guardian, Bogdanovich says, "we decided to try to make a picture where all the obligatory scenes didn't exist. This was slightly based on something Howard Hawks had said to me once, 'There are certain scenes that the audience expects. And when you don't give it to them, they're so happy.'" So they cut out anything that seemed expected or obligatory - anything where Jack seeks revenge for his losses or anything approaching heroism. Instead, he sloughs everything off like a duck, refusing to engage on standard terms. The ending is especially curt, a 180 degree turn away from Eddie Schuman and financial stability and back into the streets, tossed off with a majestically devil-may-care "Fuck it." By R. Emmet Sweeney

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1979

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1979