November 30, 2004: Headlines: COS - Malawi: Writing: Malawi: Singapore: The Guardian: Movie of RPCV Paul Theroux's "Saint Jack" was banned in Singapore

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Malawi: Special Report: RPCV Paul Theroux: Paul Theroux: Archived Stories: November 30, 2004: Headlines: COS - Malawi: Writing: Malawi: Singapore: The Guardian: Movie of RPCV Paul Theroux's "Saint Jack" was banned in Singapore

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Movie of RPCV Paul Theroux's "Saint Jack" was banned in Singapore

Movie of RPCV Paul Theroux's Saint Jack was banned in Singapore

6737,1362254,00.html, Movie of RPCV Paul Theroux's "Saint Jack" was banned in Singapore

Peter Bogdanovich

Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart and stars from the golden age of Hollywood lived again as Peter Bogdanovich regaled the audience at the National Film Theatre with tales from his new book, Who the Hell's in It?. Here's a full transcript.

Clive James
Tuesday November 30, 2004


Q1: I lived in Singapore for a few years and there are many stories there of Saint Jack and how you told the Singapore government that you were doing one thing and did something else with the movie. Could you tell the truth about what happened with that, please?

PB: Well, what happened was... the book, Saint Jack by Paul Theroux, was banned in Singapore, because they did not want to cop to the fact that Singapore was a city where American soldiers came, during Vietnam, for R&R, which really meant getting girls and so on. And they didn't want to admit that that happened. So the book was banned. And when I decided to make the movie, we travelled around most of Asia looking for a place to shoot it besides Singapore, because we knew we couldn't shoot it there. But Manila, Hong Kong, wherever we went, it wasn't as good as Singapore, obviously, because that's where it took place. So we decided we would shoot it in Singapore after all, but we couldn't tell them that it was Saint Jack because they never would have let us. So we told them we were shooting a movie called Jack of Hearts. And one afternoon, I dictated to my Chinese secretary a totally different plot, about a guy who comes from Buffalo to Singapore to open a nightclub or something. Actually he wants to open a whorehouse. I talked it out and described all the scenes - it was complete fiction, it was kind of a cross between Pal Joey and Love is a Many-Splendoured Thing. Quite terrible. But this is what we handed out to everybody, and nobody knew we were shooting Saint Jack at all. I was there for six months. Got back to Los Angeles and - remember Roderick Mann? - he came over to do an interview with him, and like an idiot I told him the truth. And of course, he printed it, it was a good story, and well... Headlines in Singapore: "Bogdanovich tricks Singapore". Vicious editorials and the picture, of course, was banned in Singapore. Though I am told there are bootleg copies there. So that's what really happened. It was sort of fun to do it that way, though, I have to admit.

CJ: It's the best movie about Vietnam.

PB: Why, thank you. I liked what Renoir said which connects with this, because I was talking to him about making pictures, and this was early on in my life. And he said, [does Renoir] "When you make pictures, you should not gather around you associates, nor even collaborators, but conspirators." I love that.

CJ: There's a big speech at the end of the picture that Gazzara could have done but he just throws it away.

PB: What we did on that picture was, we decided to try to make a picture where all the obligatory scenes didn't exist. This was slightly based on something Howard Hawks had said to me once, "There are certain scenes that the audience expects. And when you don't give it to them, they're so happy." So Benny and I discussed it often: let's not do that scene, or let's avoid that scene. Anything that we thought was predictable or was a "movie" scene. He gets tattooed at one point, will there be a revenge scene? Let's not do a revenge scene, let him just tell them to go screw themselves. We kept doing that. So we came to this last scene, between my character - I'm an FBI/CIA kind of guy - and Benny, who's a pimp. And I had asked him to take incriminating pictures of an American senator, which he did but then he decided he couldn't do it, he couldn't sink that low. And there was a long, four- or five-page scene where we discuss this, and the morality of the picture comes out. And we rehearsed it the night before in the hotel, and Benny said afterward, "Isn't this one of those scenes we said we weren't going to do? I mean, what is this scene? It's a lot of bullshit here, a lot of talk. I mean, basically this guy just says 'Fuck it', right?" "So why don't you just say that?" "Right, that's what I'll say." And that was the whole scene. "Hey Eddie, fuck it." And he walks away.

When this story was posted in December 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Our debt to Bill Moyers Our debt to Bill Moyers
Former Peace Corps Deputy Director Bill Moyers leaves PBS next week to begin writing his memoir of Lyndon Baines Johnson. Read what Moyers says about journalism under fire, the value of a free press, and the yearning for democracy. "We have got to nurture the spirit of independent journalism in this country," he warns, "or we'll not save capitalism from its own excesses, and we'll not save democracy from its own inertia."

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Story Source: The Guardian

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Malawi; Writing; Malawi; Singapore



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