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Preview: Just a Gigolo (Bluray/DVD)

1978 black comedy Just a Gigolo stars David Bowie and Marlene Dietrich alongside Sydne Rome, Kim Novak (Vertigo) and director David Hemmings (best known for starring in Blow Up).

Marlene Dietrich was 77 years old when Just a Gigolo was released. It was her final film role. In 1939, Dietrich renounced her German citizenship and became an American citizen. She was well known for her humanitarian efforts during World War II housing German and French exiles, providing financial support and lobbying for their American citizenship. A native Berliner in self-imposed exile, she refused to come to Berlin for filming, meaning that Bowie never met her. Even though the prospect of acting with Dietrich had been a clincher in his decision to take the role.

Paul von Przygodski (David Bowie), a young Prussian gentleman, arrives in the trenches in time to be caught in the final explosion of the Great War. After recuperating in a military hospital, where he is mistaken for a French hero, he returns to Berlin. His family home has been turned into a boarding house, his father (Rudolf Schündler) is paralyzed, and his mother (Maria Schell) is working in the Turkish baths. Attempting to find a new purpose, his childhood friend, Cilly (Sydne Rome), abandons him for fame and fortune; his former commanding officer, Captain Kraft (David Hemmings), tries to persuade him to join his right-wing movement and a widow, Helga von Kaiserling (Kim Novak), briefly seduces him with the finer things in life. In a society where the individual comes first and anyone can be bought, he is recruited by Baroness von Semering (Marlene Dietrich) as one in her regiment of gigolos. The cynical and decadent world of entertaining rich widows leads an increasingly disillusioned Paul to a poignant, chilling end.

The film which Hemmings said was intended to be “highly ironic, tongue-in-cheek, about the period” is alleged to have been the most expensive film made in Germany. It was rumored that Dietrich was paid $250,000 for two days’ work.

Being shot in Berlin, it was convenient for Bowie who had been living there since 1976 with Iggy Pop. Bowie filmed Just a Gigolo during the week and helped Brian Eno produce the record Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! in Cologne at the weekends. There are rumours that Eno was an extra in the film but let us know if you spot him as we haven’t seen him.

Bowie’s contribution to the soundtrack was co-writing the “Revolutionary Song” with musical director Jack Fishman although it’s been suggested that Bowie’s only lyrical contribution was the series of “la-las”. The song was released as a single in Japan and said to have become a collector’s item. Though Marlene Dietrich steals the show with her beautiful performance of “Just a Gigolo”

You can preorder now on Bluray and DVD.

Extras: The Making Of Gigolo with Writer/Producer Joshua Sinclair and Assistant To The Director Rory MacLean, Audio Commentary with Rory MacLean, Original Trailer.

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