Synopsis by Lucia Bozzola
After a couple of major studio flops, Peter Bogdanovich returned to his 1960s filmmaking roots with this Roger Corman-produced low budget film. Easygoing expatriate Jack Flowers (Ben Gazzara) makes his living in early-1970s Singapore legally and illegally looking after the needs of American and British businessmen, such as the mild-mannered William Leigh (Denholm Elliott). With his gift for putting clients and girls at ease, Jack opens a successful brothel, but pressure from local mobsters soon puts him out of business. Ever the survivor, he starts working for the shady, Cuban-cigar-smoking Eddie Schuman (Bogdanovich) as a pimp for GIs on breaks from Vietnam. But Jack's conscience starts to dog him when Schuman hires him to take compromising pictures of a visiting Senator (George Lazenby). Adapted by Bogdanovich, Howard O. Sackler, and Paul Theroux from Theroux's novel, Saint Jack offers a pimp with a heart of gold, who is less an ugly colonial American abroad than an outsider trying to make the best of a bad situation. Shooting on location in Singapore, cinematographer Robby Müller lends an appropriately gritty look to the matter-of-fact narrative. With restrained and forceful performances by Gazzara and Elliott, Saint Jack was something of a succès d'estime for the embattled Bogdanovich, winning the Italian Journalist Award for Best Film at the 1979 Venice Film Festival. While not a box-office success, it remains an affecting and unsung character study of a man's desire to forge a reasonably honorable life in a dishonorable profession.
American [nationality], brothel, expatriate, gangster, pimp, Senator, Singapore
High Artistic Quality