KINDA HOT: A book about Saint Jack

Info, news and a kind of diary covering the publication of a book about the making of the film Saint Jack in Singapore...

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Location: Bedok, The East, Singapore

Author, Lecturer, Screenwriter, Film Critic & Historian... Email me!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Projection Booth

Last October I was a guest on The Projection Booth, which is a rather extraordinary labour-of-love film podcast created by Detroit based film writer Mike White and his pal Robert St. Mary. They create audio appreciations of cult film basically, and that can run the gamut from a thorough discussion of the film between themselves and an 'expect', and indeed interviews with all manner of interesting cast and crew who get a chance to gab freely (without much in the way of editing) in a way you'll never hear anywhere else. It's a new form of podcast criticism that's completely outside the mainstream and even regular, 'serious' cinephilia. There's nothing like it. Mike's able to get some fairly legendary figures on the phone from Detroit, and that's all credit to his tenaciousness and passion.

I contacted him about Saint Jack because I thought it would be right up their alley, and they ran with it, getting hold of Peter B for an interview and putting me on the whole show as a guest.

Visit the show page and download and listen!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Goodbye Ben


Mostly unedited Interview Transcription: Gazzara – at home in Italy – Umbria, October 2005…

"You’re in my town!

I love Singapore. Making Saint Jack, one of the great experiences of my life. I was working with Peter in the creation of it, I was not a hired actor who comes in, learns his lines, hits his marks and performs as well as he could. I was there with him almost creating the character and working on creating the film, every night, we’d meet in his suite to write the scene we were going to shoot the next day. We improvised it into existence, its an exciting way to work.

I found him (the character) charming and disarming but it wasn’t till I started working on him that he really got to me. His honour, his dignity, his inability to destroy another person's life in order to save his own.

First day of shooting I was having trouble I didn’t know who I was or where I was going and I was trying a little too hard to make drama where there was none. Whereas I should of relaxed and let the scene come to me instead of trying to push it in areas where it wouldn’t go. That happens even to trained old-timers like myself. I got an understanding of what this picture was about, I mean really about, and it certainly wasn’t about hookers and brothels, it was something far more profound. I was able to relax into it. If you don’t understand you can't do it, once you understand you can do it.

On the floor with those wonderful English actors in the bar, it's where I started to understand who this guy was, he was complex he was able to enjoy the company of the strangest people, and take from them and give to them and with no judgements of anyone – and that was very important. He made no judgement. We can all learn for that. People are complex in many, many, many colours.

It was one of those shoots, and I only had one other before (Husbands) where I did not want the film to end, and I went into mourning when it did end.

It was tough to shake him actually. He hung onto me long after the film was finished. That hasn’t happened often to me. I was touched by the man.

The character is stuck with you – as Stanislavski said. My emotions, my thoughts, my feelings, all of that went into the character of Saint Jack and if you see him you're seeing me and vice versa.

(On working with non-professionals):

That was delightful. Film is made for the dilletante I think. If they can be themselves, they bring you what no actor can bring you. Self-efacement, genuine reactions, a feeling of the first time, and that’s why John used non-actors so often, and would be furious if anyone tried to direct them, he just let them be. He rolled the camera and waited for them to surprise him.

They were virtually left alone by Peter. When he wanted them to do something he told them, but he did not try to frame their performances.

(On the girls):

We got to know each other. Peter brought a lot of dinners and lunches. Before we shot I knew all those girls and had a laugh or two with many of them. It was not strangers meeting on the floor.

(On the Brits):

We had two or three raucous dinners together and those boys know how to drink. And so did I in those days so we got along very well.

(On hiding the identity of the film):

We had a phony clapperboard that said Jack Of Hearts, “a sort of conventional boy chases girl across the world kind of film”

Not a problem – “we never even thought of it really”

“I loved it. I still love it. I’ve seen it only three times since 1978, and each time I enjoy it even more. And I’ve seen it every time holding Peter's hand and squeezing it when I love the moments. And I’m getting to love more and more the moments.”

I love so many moments with the girls. The moments with Jimmy my man, who’s selling heroin to the boys to the camp.

(On me living in Singapore):

I see why you're there. The women are beautiful.

(On Bugis Street):

There was boogie street – they’d turn on all the transistor radios at about 11.30 nights and out would come these albums of very attractive women who were men, and they’d show up about midnight, and sit on your table if you wanted them to.

The English guys, the English are rather kinky you know, they went home with two of them, knowing they were guys, but they were so pretty they didn’t believe they were guys, they went home, they woke up all their money was gone, their wallets, their ID, they had been had.

They were living the part.

(On returning to Singapore):

Came back with Elke – I looked for the street life but it wasn’t there anymore. We were on a boat, cruising and it stopped and we got off for half a day, the same manager of the Raffles Hotel was still there. And he bought us a Singapore Sling. I said a double! In the courtyard where I have the scene.

“an adventure that will always remain with me very deeply in my heart, because I love Peter”

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Getting Copies

Forget the Amazon link, except if you want to read the lovely review just posted by Gordon J Whiting. If you want a copy of Kinda Hot, email me at gonetopersia at gmail.com and I'll sort you out as soon as I can, for a reasonable price. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

One Night In Singapore

26th November, 2009, 7:30pm

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The Ladies: Monika Crump, Sally Tunnicliffe and Lisa Lu

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The Guys: Teo Bee Hui, Tan Yan Meng, Noel Joseph, Pierre Cottrell and me

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Monika and Tony Yeow

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My intro

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Bee Hui

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Monika, Noel and Meng

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Pierre, Lisa, Tony and me

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Bee Hui

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(Photos courtesy of the National Museum of Singapore)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Once Upon A Time...

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The journey to organise a screening of Saint Jack has been a long one that's taken many twists and turns along the way, including the un-banning of the film; discussions to show the film in London and Telluride (which I recently found out came much closer to happening than I ever believed); prints appearing, disappearing and deteriorating at the BFI and in America; the quest for Quentin Tarantino's personal copy (not sure whether he ever got the messages), and much more besides.

Anyway, we're finally go. And it's the 30th Anniversary of the film's commercial release, and almost exactly 30 years since Warners innocently sent a copy to the Singapore Censorship Board for a look-see.

The first screening is on the 26th November, and a second one on the 27th. All at The National Museum of Singapore, and it's part of a season they're doing of foreigners takes on Singapore/Malaya called Once Upon A Time In The Orient.

For the details: times, ticketing and prices, please click this mother.

I invited some of the major cast and crew to attend. Apologies to all those I didn't or couldn't contact. And we have Monika Subramaniam (lead actress), Pierre Cottrell (producer) and Sally Tunnicliffe (casting and actress) flying in and possibly Lisa Lu (see below). I'm hoping to rouse as many of the local cast and crew to show their faces as well, and I'm sure we'll have a few surprises.

We're also doing the 'Jack Of Hearts Mystery Tour' - a bus tour of locations which I'll be co-hosting with Tony Yeow, the film's Unit Manager. This tour will take place in a parallel universe in which Saint Jack is a well-known classic and a la San Francisco and Vertigo, tourists flock to our tour to find out where the scenes were shot from their favourite film in the old/new Lion City.

This should be fun. See you there!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lisa Lu

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(Photo by Sherman Ong)

Another missing piece of the puzzle. I finally met Lisa Lu this week. Lisa was the producer/actress sent-parachuted by Roger Corman into Singapore just as the Saint Jack shoot was starting, to deal with some of the 'interpersonal issues' that had developed between Pierre Cottrell and Peter Bogdanovich. I'd tried to contact Lisa a few times when I was doing my research back in 2005, but the messages never seemed to get through. Anyway, Lisa was pretty thrilled to get the book and talk about those days. Lisa is a true star, she's worked with everyone from James Stewart to Wim Wenders, Donald Cammell, Ang Lee, Wayne Wang and of course, the legendary Li Han-Hsiang, in two genuine masterpieces for Shaw Brothers in which she played the evil Empress Dowager, CiXi. We had dim sum and bak kut teh at Raffles Hotel, and talked about those days, but she wants to have a longer talk when she's finished reading the book.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A Million Flowers

This is a piece I wrote last year for Alexis Tioseco's site about South-East Asian cinema, Criticine. It's based on a number of talks and presentations I did around the time when the book came out in which I discussed the story behind the writing of the book and it's impact on my life. Enjoy.