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 ...
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Courtney B. Vance,
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 »
The criminally underrated Peter Bogdanovich casts Ben Gazzara as a man who opens a brothel in Singapore, drawing the ire of a crime syndicate. "Saint Jack", based on Paul Theroux's novel, portrays Lion City as the opposite of the immaculate place that we hear about. Not only do the streets look dirty, but the entire place comes across as a bastion of corruption.
A couple of things make "Saint Jack" a good movie. Aside from the great acting, directing and cinematography, I like movies that show us cultures that we rarely see (other examples include "The Mighty Quinn" and "Black Cat, White Cat"). Despite Singapore's economic status, it's one of the least represented of the Four Asian Tigers* in cinema. All in all, Bogdanovich (who plays a supporting role) made a good one. Also starring Denholm Elliott (Marcus Brody in the Indiana Jones movies).
*A geopolitical term used to describe Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea, referring to their status as small countries that are economic powerhouses.
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