The scandalous 1979 Hollywood film Saint Jack, which was once banned by the government , will be back on the big screen for its 40th anniversary.
Filmed entirely in Singapore, the film, based on a Paul Theroux novel and directed by Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show), is an exploration of Sing City’s seedier and darker side as seen through the eyes of Jack Flowers (Ben Gazzara), an American pimp stationed here in the early 1970s.
Bankrolled by B-movie mogul Roger Corman and Playboy boss Hugh Hefner, Saint Jack was banned here on its release because of its LGBT-related content. Turns out Bogdanovich had submitted a fake script to the authorities for approval. The ban was lifted in 2006; the film is rated M18.
Saint Jack is one of the highlights of Singaporeana!, a retrospective presented by the Asian Film Archive which kicks off on Sept 21 (Saturday). The programme looks at how Singapore has been depicted in international movies that were shot here in the 1960s-80s.
The movies featured in Singporeana! also double as documentaries that provide a glimpse of old Singapore before the landscape was transformed by urban redevelopment. Wonder what Bugis Street, Orchard Road and Chinatown were like in the 1970s?
Film historian and Singaporeana! curator Ben Slater, the author of the tell-all book Kinda Hot: The Making of Saint Jack , will hold a lecture on Sept 21 at 1.30pm. There’s also a tour of the filming locations (or what’s left of them) on Sept 28 (5pm-7pm). There’s also a ‘Singaporeana Symposium’ on Sept 27 (9am-5.30pm).
Besides Saint Jack, which will be screened on Sept 21 and 28 (both days, 8pm), here's the rest of the Singaporeana! line-up: