Saint Jack (1979) - Rotten Tomatoes

Saint Jack (1979)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

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.more
Rating: R (violence, language, nudity)
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Art House & International
Directed By:
Written By: Howard Sackler, Paul Theroux, Peter Bogdanovich, Howard O. Sackler, Paul Theroux
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 23, 2001
New Concorde Home Entertainment


Ben Gazzara
as Jack Flowers
Denholm Elliott
as William Leigh
Joss Ackland
as Yardley
Lisa Lu
as Mrs. Yates
Peter Bogdanovich
as Eddie Schuman
Tan Yan Meng
as Little Hing
Ken Wolinski
as Australian Businessm...
S.M. Sim
as Mr. Tan
Peter Pang
as Triad Gang
Ronald Ng
as Triad Gang
Seow Teow Keng
as Triad Gang
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Saint Jack

Critic Reviews for Saint Jack

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (4)

If Saint Jack is not another complete embarrassment for Bogdanovich, it nonetheless reveals his deficiencies as a film maker.

Full Review… | July 18, 2008
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Well crafted, finely acted, and conjures up a positively intriguing milieu.

Full Review… | July 18, 2008
Top Critic

Hard to imagine how anyone could make less of such a promising subject.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

One wishes it were more outrageous and less knowing.

Full Review… | May 9, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

It's too hollow and sentimental to rise to any great critical heights.

Full Review… | March 11, 2015
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The story is told in too meandering a style and the many well-acted characterizations never mesh together.

Full Review… | July 18, 2008
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Audience Reviews for Saint Jack

Gazarra is amazing; Muller as DP; a story about capitalism; friendships are business here, maybe real in passing; Jack stays true to himself

Adam Mahler

Super Reviewer


Director Peter Bogdonovich didn?t have much of a budget to work with and does an excellent job creating a believable and gritty atmosphere. Very well acted, especially by Ben Gazzara, one of the best roles of his career. His performance is thoughtful and subtle. Very well done, interesting story.

James Higgins

Had the good fortune of seeing this at the Cinematheque and it completely changed my perception of Peter Bogdanovich. Apparently the blowhard actually had one good--no, GREAT--movie in him. As the first (and only?) American movie filmed entirely in Singapore, its sense of time and place is breathtaking. And this is Ben Gazarra at his very coolest. Which says a lot.

lucy jones

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