US 1-sheet poster for the 1978 film ‘Just a Gigolo.’
“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.”
‘‘David Bowie in a 1980 interview with New Music Express about his 1978 film, Just a Gigolo
You might think that the trifecta of David Bowie, Marlene Dietrich and one of Alfred Hitchcock’s blonde obsessions, Kim Novak all appearing in the same film would result in one of the greatest movies of all time. And if not that, something interesting? Passable? However, as you can see from his reflection on Just a Gigolo, Bowie felt that the film didn’t exactly meet his expectations despite its clever premise and star power.
Directed by British actor David Hemmings (Blowup) and financed by Germans, Just a Gigolo was an extravagant undertaking and has been rumored to be the most expensive film ever produced in the country at that time. It would also mark the great Marlene Dietrich’s return from retirement as well as her last appearance on the silver screen for which the then 77-year-old actress was allegedly paid 250,000 for two-days work. And though it’s dreamy to imagine Bowie and Dietrich filming scenes together, that never happened as Dietrich was filmed in Paris and all of Bowie’s scenes were shot in Berlin.
Though Bowie knocked film it’s got many memorable moments including a scene of the Thin White Duke taking a bath while being berated by a Prince played by Curd Jürgens; Novak’s character “Helga von Kaiserling” trying to seduce Bowie’s character (“Paul Ambrosius von Przygodski”) in a graveyard, and Dietrich’s unforgettable performance of “Just a Gigolo” at the conclusion of the film. To say nothing of the fact that then-then only 30-year-old Bowie plays a dashing male gigolo who makes money by wooing older rich women. It also has—and I would be remiss in leaving this out—a contribution by the Village People on the soundtrack! If you’ve never seen this wonderfully quirky film it’s actually pretty wild to watch, and I hope that the images in this post convince you that it’s worth your time. I’ve also included the American language trailer for Just a Gigolo accompanied by Dietrich’s haunting vocals for you at the end of the post.
David Bowie and Kim Novak in ‘Just a Gigolo.’
More after the jump…