Saint Jack

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Saint Jack
First edition cover (book) designed by Paul Bacon[1]
Directed by Peter Bogdanovich
Produced by Hugh M. Hefner
Edward L. Rissien
Written by Peter Bogdanovich
Howard Sackler
Paul Theroux
Starring Ben Gazzara
Denholm Elliott
George Lazenby
Cinematography Robby Müller
Edited by William C. Carruth
Distributed by New World Pictures
Release dates
27 April 1979 (New York City, USA)
Running time
112 min.
Language English
Budget $2 million[2]

Saint Jack is a 1973 novel by Paul Theroux and a 1979 film of the same name. It tells the life of Jack Flowers, a pimp in Singapore. Feeling hopeless and undervalued, Jack tries to make money by setting up his own bordello, and clashes with Chinese triad members in the process.


Cybill Shepherd had sued Playboy magazine after they published photos of her from The Last Picture Show. As part of the settlement, she got the rights to the novel Saint Jack which she had wanted to make into a film ever since Orson Welles gave her a copy.[3]

Ben Gazzara stars as Flowers in the film, directed by Peter Bogdanovich.

Controversy about the film[edit]

Saint Jack was shot entirely on location in various places in Singapore in May and June 1978. As of 2006, it is the only Hollywood film to have been shot on location in Singapore. Places featured in the film include the former Empress Place hawker centre (now demolished) and Bugis Street. The local authorities knew about the book, hence the foreign production crew did not tell them that they were adapting it, fearing that they would not be permitted to shoot the film. Instead, they created a fake synopsis for a film called "Jack Of Hearts", (what the director called "a cross between Love is a Many Splendored Thing and Pal Joey"[2]) and most of the Singaporeans involved in the production believed this was what they were making.

The film was banned in Singapore and Malaysia on 17 January 1980. Singapore banned it "largely due to concerns that there would be excessive edits required to the scenes of nudity and some coarse language before it could be shown to a general audience," and lifted the ban only in March 2006.[4] It is now an M18-rated film.

Saint Jack was re-released in North America on DVD in 2001.

In an interview with The New York Times on 15 March 2006, Bogdanovich said, "Saint Jack and They All Laughed were two of my best films but never received the kind of distribution they should have."[5]



  1. ^ The Covers of Paul Bacon
  2. ^ a b Bogdanovich's Picture Show Lee, Grant. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 10 Aug 1979: e16.
  3. ^ The Upside-Down Views of Cybill Shepherd Mann, Roderick. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 21 May 1978: n37.
  4. ^ Suk-Wai, Cheong (29 March 2006). "Saint Elsewhere". Life! (The Straits Times). p. 5. 
  5. ^ Ibid. (A search of The New York Times' archive on 29 March 2006 failed to find the text of the interview.)

External links[edit]