7.1/10
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21 user 21 critic

Saint Jack (1979)

Jack Flowers, an American hustler in early 1970s Singapore, dreams of building a fortune by running a brothel and returning to the States to lead a life of luxury.

Director:

Peter Bogdanovich

Writers:

Howard Sackler (screenplay), Paul Theroux (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ben Gazzara ... Jack Flowers
Denholm Elliott ... William Leigh
James Villiers James Villiers ... Frogget
Joss Ackland ... Yardley
Rodney Bewes ... Smale
Mark Kingston ... Yates
Lisa Lu ... Mrs. Yates
Monika Subramaniam Monika Subramaniam ... Monika
Judy Lim Judy Lim ... Judy
George Lazenby ... Senator
Peter Bogdanovich ... Eddie Schuman
Joseph Noël Joseph Noël ... Gopi
Kian Bee Ong Kian Bee Ong ... Hing
Yan Meng Tan Yan Meng Tan ... Little Hing
Andrew Chua Andrew Chua ... Andrew
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 December 1979 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Jack el magnífico See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Peter Bogdanovich in "This is Orson Welles", Bogdanovich wanted Welles to direct this film, and Welles was set to do so. However, after some pressure from the studio and his steady girlfriend Cybill Shepard, Bogdanovich ended up directing it. This led to a falling-out between Bogdanovich and Welles that wasn't resolved until shortly before Welles's death. See more »

Quotes

William Leigh: You're a ponce, aren't you?
Jack Flowers: Hard to say what anyone is.
William Leigh: I only mention it because, personally, I could never bring myself to pay.
Jack Flowers: William, people make love for so many crazy reasons, why shouldn't money be one of them?
See more »

Crazy Credits

We thank the people of the Republic of Singapore, on whose island this picture was filmed. See more »

Connections

Referenced in By Bogdanovich (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Basin Street Blues
Written by Spencer Williams
Sung by Louis Armstrong
See more »

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User Reviews

Another Brilliant Little Sleeper!
21 July 2000 | by jlabineSee 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 well...is 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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