Review: Just a Gigolo
DVD & Blu-ray: Just a Gigolo (1978)
David Bowie plays Paul Ambrosius von Przygodski; a Prussian officer returning home to Berlin after the first world war. He’s rather stuck up and staid and on returning to his Mutti (Maria Schell) he finds the only thing he can do is be a soldier, so ends up working in menial jobs.
He is chased by his female neighbour for sex (he’s not interested) and ends up staying with his old closeted gay army captain (David Hemmings, who also directs) in an abandoned train. Eventually (it seems at the end of the film to be honest) he works as a gigolo in a brothel run by the Baroness (Marlene Dietrich), just as things are looking up for him, he’s killed in street fighting between Nazis and Communists.
What an odd film this is. I had never heard of it, which is weird for a Bowie film. Director David Hemmings said that Just a Gigolo was intended to be ‘highly ironic, tongue-in-cheek, about the period’, but ends up being… plain weird and disjointed. Marlene Dietrich was persuaded to come out of retirement to make a 5 minute appearance and reportedly earned $250,000 for two days’ shooting.
This was Bowie’s next role after Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) and was perfect for Bowie as he already lived In Berlin at that time.
Bowie claimed that he took the role ‘as a favour to Hemmings’ who at the time was planning to make a documentary of Bowie’s 1978 concert tour, and because “Marlene Dietrich was dangled in front of me”.Ironically Bowie and Dietrich didn’t meet, with Dietrich filming in Paris where she lived, and spliced into the film.
In an interview with NME in September 1980, Bowie was quoted as saying:
Everybody who was involved in that film – when they meet each other now, they look away [covers face with hands, laughs]… Listen, you were disappointed, and you weren’t even in it. Imagine how we felt… It was my 32 Elvis Presley movies rolled into one.
Which sums this film up perfectly.
Viva Las Bowie!
- The Making Of Gigolo With Writer/Producer Joshua Sinclair And Assistant To The Director Rory MacLean
- Audio Commentary With Rory MacLean
- Original Trailer
Review by Tina from a disc kindly supplied by Fabulous Films.