Compelling character study, revolving around Jack Flowers (Ben Gazzara), an American hustler trying to make his fortune in 1970s Singapore in small time pimping. He dreams of building a ... See full summary »
Compelling character study, revolving around Jack Flowers (Ben Gazzara), an American hustler trying to make his fortune in 1970s Singapore in small time pimping. He dreams of building a fortune by running a brothel himself and returning to the States to lead a life of luxury. Savvy but not unsavory he strikes up a friendship with William Leigh (Denholm Elliot), a genial and decent auditor who travels to Singapore every year. Ultimately, the background of the Vietnam War comes into the picture as Jack is offered the opportunity by the CIA to run a brothel for the R&R activities of U.S. soldiers on leave in Singapore. Written by
Knowing full well that the Singaporean authorities would never sanction a film that depicted their city as being a hotbed of corruption and sleaze, the script that Peter Bogdanovich submitted to them had been specially rewritten with all the contentious elements removed. Approval was granted. However, when the film was completed, the Singaporean authorities were horrified to see the true nature of the film and subsequently banned it. See more »
Now, the Chinese, they go for Australian girls, y'know, big-boned. The Germans usually go for Tamils. The British don't give a damn as long as they're young and boyish, isn't that right, Colonel?
Well the Americans, they do a lot of hugging-up in taxis, y'know. When they go home they write letters. Girls are always after me to help them answer 'em.
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A poignant and evocative portrayal of the seamy side of Singapore that was banned by the island state's then Prime Minister Lee(no-chewing-gum) Kwan Yoo and which must have had him spluttering into his gin-sling. Jack Flowers (Ben Gazzara) is a pimp providing R & R for 'Nam GI's and tourists. Crossing the path of Triad gangs, who want to muscle in on his action, he refuses to be intimidated. By contrast his British ex-pat. acquaintances are post-colonial flotsam: all-day drinkers with no ambition but to live out the rest of their lives in a pastiche of Empire. The exception is William Leigh (Denholm Elliot) who gives a deftly understated and moving performance. Both BG and DE are utterly convincing in their interaction, which is the Anglo-American "special relationship" (and their countries' post-war global power shift) in microcosm. Gazzara matches arch scene-stealer Elliot belying the saying "Never act with children, animals or Denholm Elliot". With the plot covering prostitution, blackmail and protection and there is also a pervading feeling that in the 1970's there was no place on earth that was not corrupted by exploitation and misogyny. Understated and underrated, but brilliant cinema.
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