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Saint Jack (1979)

 -  Drama  -  5 December 1979 (France)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 773 users  
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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 »



(screenplay), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Title: Saint Jack (1979)

Saint Jack (1979) on IMDb 7.1/10

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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Flowers
William Leigh
James Villiers ...
Rodney Bewes ...
Mark Kingston ...
Mrs. Yates
Monika Subramaniam ...
Judy Lim ...
Eddie Schuman
Joseph Noël ...
Kian Bee Ong ...
Yan Meng Tan ...
Little Hing
Andrew Chua ...


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 alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


"People make love for so many crazy reasons-- why shouldn't money be one of them?" - The Gospel According To Saint Jack




R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

5 December 1979 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Jack el magnífico  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


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Did You Know?


According to Peter Bogdanovich in his collaborative book "This is Orson Welles", Bogdanovich wanted Welles to direct this film as a comeback for his mentor, and Welles was set to do so, but then, with some pressure from the studio, and his steady girlfriend Cybill Shepard, Bogdanovich ended up directing it himself. This led to a falling-out between the two friends, Bogdanovich and Welles, that wasn't completely resolved for nearly a decade, shortly before Welles's death. See more »


Jack Flowers: 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?
Col. Gunstone: Indubitably.
Jack Flowers: 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.
See more »


Referenced in By Bogdanovich (2011) See more »


Written by John Barry
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User Reviews

Another Brilliant Little Sleeper!
21 July 2000 | by (Brooklyn, New York) – See all my reviews

"Saint Jack" is an amazing little film. Just when you figure that Peter Bogdanovich was only capable of making Hollywood efforts rather than his once indepedent film maker roots (ie; "Targets" and "Last Picture Show") he surprised his fans with this little film. Not since Cassavetes, has a director pulled such an honest and Oscar worthy performance from Ben Gazzara. For me, Ben's role as Jack Flowers is one of the most colorful of American Cinema's characters. His character is shaded with the same quirks that you would expect from such an actor as Bogart. The film begins with Jack Flowers running a prostitution racket in late 1960's Singapore, with dreams of opening the grandest of whore houses. What may seem like a typically seedy character for cinema, turns out to be one of the most sensitive portrayals that indears rather than repulses. His rather cynical, humourous, honest and lazy approach to life is at times comendable and charming. But after his dream is realized (he does get his whore house!), things start falling apart. It's at this point that his integrity is questioned with the newer business routes he ventures into. The second half of the film is slightly dispairing due to the fact that he no longer has a sense of dream, but only a sense of escape from the world he has created. You get the feeling that people of his disposition are not trully suited for the occupation of pimp. One of the highlights of the film is the friendship he builds with William Leigh (Denholm Elliott). Both are outsiders of Singapore, yet still live there, due to the fact that they're too much of an outsider in their country of origin. The friendship reminds me that of Bruno Ganz and Dennis Hopper in "The American Friend". Both are in countries not their own, but "Saint Jack" retains a friendship of innocence. One will die in both. I imagine that Peter Bogdanovich was influenced to a degree by Hugh Hefner (of Playboy fame), in which he (as well as Jack Flowers) is also in the industry of female objectification. Yet both are still looked upon as fairly descent men. It's no surprise to me that Hugh was also responsible for some of the production along with B-movie producer Roger Corman. Another character (of female objectification in cinema history) that plays a great influence in the film as James Bond. The use of music, epecially the Goldfinger soundtrack (heard while two Singaporean prostitutes are gettin' busy), the theatre poster for the film resembles a James Bond like poster, and the casting of George Lazenby (ironically as a Senator with homosexual leanings) from "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" fame, lend an overwhelming thought that secretly Bogdanovich wanted to make a Bond film. But this may have also been a way of justifying Jack Flowers own arguable career choices of that of our own moral decissions in entertainment enjoyment. Also, comparing to a time (late 1960's) when we (as America) sent troops to Vietnam (another theme in the film), Jack comes off looking quiet harmless, and smelling of flowers (pun intended). But what really makes this film so charming is the warmth that Ben Gazzara radiates in this film, and how it's small scale of a budget offers such a big heart. It's heaviness in topic is always brought off with humour and sensitivity. Highly recommended on all counts! It's a pity that not more people know of this film, and that's great loss to the film watching public. Maybe Bogdanovich will make something as interesting in the future? I give it a 10!

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