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Just A Gigolo

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Corgi, London, 1979
(price: 85p; 156 pages)

The blurb on the back:

BERLIN IN THE 1920s ...
a time of change, a time of upheaval. Paul von Pryzgodski was a young man whose life had led him to expect heroism, but instead he found failure - failure in the Great War, failure at trying to find a career, failure at nearly every relationship that comes his way until he meets the Baroness and discovers there is one profession at which he can excel ...

David Bowie's first starring film role was in The Man Who Fell To Earth in 1976, which won him enormous amounts of praise, unusual for a rock star turning his hand to acting. Maybe he peaked too early. The next role was Just A Gigolo in 1978 and it destroyed his reputation as an actor so convincingly that even now - nearly quarter of a century and a dozen major roles later - it hasn't recovered.

As part of my revisionist account of Bowie's career (Tin Machine were a pretty neat band), I'd argue that the criticism of his performance in Gigolo was misplaced. It was said that he looked wooden. Of course he looked wooden - that was the character.

Bowie played a young subaltern who came from an old Prussian family, brought up to believe in the absolute virtues of honour and chivalry. Leaping at his chance of glory, he joins the Army and finds himself in the trenches of the Great War. An exploding shell puts him in a coma, and he wakes after the war to find the Berlin of his youth destroyed by the humiliation of defeat.

You see what I mean? It's a character that's bound to look wooden in the modern world. People aren't like this anymore, but they used to be. It's accurate for the place and period. Bowie was playing it straight.

Mind you, I'm not saying it was a good film. In fact, it was a complete mess. At the time, it was the most expensive post-War German film, but it's hard to see where the money went, apart perhaps from on the cast - David Hemmings, Kim Novak, Marlene Dietrich, Curt Jurgens were part of a decent line-up that was frankly wasted on this tosh. The story by Joshua Sinclair was adapted by Rosemary Kingsland for this novelisation, and - despite her doing a perfectly decent job on it - it's still a waste of time.


visit Rosemary Kingsland's website
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