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 »
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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 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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We thank the people of the Republic of Singapore, on whose island this picture was filmed. See more »
Saint Jack is a film short on plot, but long on character study, at least for the title character Jack Flowers, patron saint of the working girl in Singapore. Ben Gazzara plays the title role and if you can imagine Humphrey Bogart at his most existential running a brothel, than you've got Gazzara's character.
And that's what Jack Flowers does, he served in Korea went to college on the GI bill and tried a hand at writing. He gave that up because he hadn't experienced enough of life in his own words, shipped out on a tramp freighter and wound up in Singapore managing a brothel. If he wanted to know about life, that's as good a place as any to get material for twenty books. And he's originally from Buffalo, New York, probably on the west side, unanglicized name Jack Fiore.
Gazzara's co-star is the city of Singapore in all its aspects, both the high and low end of it. Gazzara's got friends in high and low places, his most unusual friend is Denholm Elliott who is an accountant and sent by the front office in Hong Kong to do a yearly audit. They hit it off believe it or not, Elliott becomes kind of a role model of probity for Gazzara.
Humphrey Bogart, starting in Casablanca did a lot of his films in exotic locations. But mostly he never got there, his films mostly done on studio back lots, The African Queen a shining exception. I'm sure Bogey would have jumped at the chance to do a location film in Singapore which in his day was involved in a nasty civil war after World War II.
There's not much of a story line, in fact Gazzara's not a terribly heroic character until the end when he does have an attack of conscience. For what that is you'll have to see Saint Jack.
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