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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 the Singaporean government would never sanction a film that depicted the city as a hotbed of corruption and sleaze, the script that Peter Bogdanovich submitted had been rewritten with all the contentious elements removed. When the film was completed, the Singaporean government was horrified, and banned it. See more »
Eliot: "These girls, they're all so beautiful." Gazzara: "They're all guys."
Ben Gazzara is not the Jack Flowers I saw in Paul Theroux' novel; he's too self-confident by half. But different in tone as they may be, both Theroux' and Bogdanovich's "Saint Jack" are successes. The location shooting in Singapore and the utter lack of background music are among Bogdanovich's own touches. It's a fine, solid little film, sexy, political and all over bright. Gazzara works as a gofer for a Chinese business to maintain his visa. But his dream is to open his own brothel, which with the backing of a few friends, he does. But the Chinese "mafia" closes him down (the confrontation with a Chinese midget and his musclemen is memorable). And then the CIA, represented by Peter Bogdanovith, subsidizes Flowers in a new brothel for Viet troops on R&R. It lasts as long as the war does (his former Chinese employer rags Gazzara about the Vietnamese victory). Then Gazzara is forced into some sleazy blackmail which, finally, he rejects. A moral decision in a very amoral story. British actor James Villiers has a small but distinctive part as Frogget. In a conversation with bar cronies he says: "The last time I was in UK they made homosexuality legal. I said to my wife, I said let's get out of here before they make it compulsory." This is not on DVD yet. Why the hell not?
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