Thursday, March 25, 2010

Singa Pura (Lion City): Saint Jack

Saint Jack (1979) - Bogdanovich
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Shot entirely on location in multi-culti Singapore in the 70's and starring sweaty Ben Gazzara, this Roger Corman production is a leisurely paced character study. Jack (Gazzara), an expat from Buffalo manages a big whorehouse and knows the streets and the streets know him. He's an affable fellow. But there is a danger around the corner as it comes with the territory. One day, a rival gang shows up, fronted by a knife wielding midget Chinaman forcefully offering him a heap of Swedish porn. They end up ransacking his handsome peaceful whore villa and tattooing dirty Chinese words on his forearms. But Jack is not an easy person to be fazed. He meets his match in a suave g-man (Bogdanovich) who offers him a job (running a brothel for GIs).

Robbie Müller (DP of Dead Man, Repo Man, Paris Texas)'s spacious photography with long takes and slow pans, Saint Jack feels like a distant cousin to Altman's the Long Goodbye. Gazzara fits like a glove in a slightly fed up wiseguy in Southeast Asia role with his smarmy charm. Bogdanovich is a natural storyteller. If you want to know where the names Buffalo, Singapore originated from or what the Thai massage involves, watch this film.


  1. Hi Dustin - Enjoyed this piece. If you want to know more about the film - I wrote a book about it called Kinda Hot: The Making of Saint Jack in Singapore. Also I have a lot of info on my blog


    Ben Slater

  2. Ben:
    That's so awesome. I was aware of your book when I did some research on the film. Just read your blog and it's really great how you put together a screening of the film and how you got everyone together! Kudos. Now I got to read your book! I really enjoyed the film. And thanks for looking me up!