Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Saint Jack's past existence on 'home video' formats has been somewhat patchy in the DVD era. There was the New Concorde "Roger Corman Presents/Directors Series" edition from 2000, which presented a decent if scratchy scan of the print alongside a few basic extras from Peter Bogdanovich; a commentary-track and a to-camera interview. After that went out of print, Australian DVD outfit Umbrella licensed that very same version around 2006, however the compression of the file left something to be desired and it was a moderately inferior looking-thing, paler in colour and lower in resolution. That was the edition that hit the streets in Singapore when the film was 'un-banned', and became a fast bestseller for a while. While flat-hunting in 2010 I'd occasionally see a copy on peoples' shelves, so I know it got around. When Umbrella stopped shipping or printing them (presumably the license had ended, or there was no more demand) the film was suddenly unavailable again for the first time since the 1990s, although there was a Spanish-subtitled version showing up on Amazon, which was another license of the New Concorde edition. Then in early 2014, I saw a mention in a forum that Scorpion Releasing, a small DVD/Blu-ray imprint specialising in bringing out relatively obscure B-Movie, action and exploitation flicks, had announced that a Saint Jack disc was in the pipeline, even going so far to include the trailer on some of its releases. Hoping to get involved, I speculatively dropped an email to the anonymous "Info@" address with some blurb about my book, and to my great surprise got an email back from Walter Olsen, who, I think it's fair to say, is Scorpion Releasing. Thus, a correspondence that would last several years (on and off) was initiated, and to Walter's great credit, while the Blu-ray project was delayed or held off for years (a much improved in terms of pic-quality DVD from Walter popped up in the interim), he was true to his word and happily enabled me to impose myself onto the project, recording an exhaustive audio commentary and producing two short documentaries, 'Memories of Saint Jack' (which edits together interviews with a good number of Saint Jack cast and crew, including Pierre Cottrell and Lisa Lu) and 'The Singapore Locations of Saint Jack' AKA 'Dormant Glories At Dawn', a video essay by the brilliant artist Toh Hun Ping. These feature alongside all the old extras. There's also an excellent reversible cover with the stunning Polish poster image instead of the not-wonderful Corman-edition poster with all the critics' quotes. When you get your copy, change the cover immediately! The best aspect of the edition is of course the film itself, which is stunningly cleaned-up, and as I've said elsewhere, it's doubtful that we'll ever see a better copy. A few years ago Peter Bogdanovich told an interviewer (during the She's Funny That Way press) that he hoped to see Saint Jack be brought out by Criterion. Well, Walter's done an equally great job on far less resources, and if you love the film, you absolutely must get this. It's available here and here and if you are in Singapore and want to acquire one, drop me a line.