Malaya Black & White | The Virgin Soldiers (M18)



*Film is M18. Patrons under 18 will not be permitted entry. Age check will be conducted at the door; please bring a valid photo ID for verification purposes.

The Hollywood studios’ flirtation with shooting in Singapore began with Pretty Polly in 1966 and ended with The Virgin Soldiers in 1969. This time the literary source was Leslie Thomas’s raunchy, pacifist bestseller about loose-end recruits sweating out the Malayan Emergency. Here, an angelic Hywel Bennett plays Brigg, the innocent serviceman, caught up in love, lust, boredom, and eventually violence in Singapore and across the causeway. It was shot in Selerang Barracks and Chinatown in Singapore and Port Dixon in Malaysia. The novel’s episodic structure and matter-of-fact approach to the horror of war proves tricky to translate, but for a film usually marketed as a broad comedy (and there’s plenty of that), it has a powerful anti-war message.

This screening is part of the 'Beyond Saint Jack' segment under the NUS Museum's Malaya Black & White film series.

About ‘Beyond Saint Jack’ - The strange cinematic visitors of Singapore and Malaya
Singapore/Malaya’s heyday of foreign production from the mid 1960s to the early 1980s led to a motley filmography of B-movies, commercial disasters, miscellaneous TV episodes, lost films and bizarre curios. While they resist canonisation, these films are a fascinating portal into how the region was perceived by the rest of the world both before and after the end of the colonial era; and the eagerness for Singapore and Malaysia to be represented and acknowledged by the West. A recurring motif of their narratives is the Western visitor in Singapore. This season of 10 films showcases the predecessors and descendants of Saint Jack (1979): old hands, good men, legal aliens, rugged individualists, ex-soldiers, detectives, has-beens and rock stars. Characters who have found themselves ensnared in traps beyond their control, stumbled across exotic, bewildering cultures, or entered zones of erotic possibility.

Beyond Saint Jack is guest-curated by author and critic Ben Slater, who will be present to introduce and discuss each film.

About Ben Slater

Ben Slater is the author of Kinda Hot: The Making of Saint Jack in Singapore (2006), a major contributor to World Film Locations: Singapore(2014) and the editor of 25: Histories and Memories of the Singapore International Film Festival (2014). He’s also the co-screenwriter of the feature film Camera (2014) and a Lecturer at the School of Art, Media and Design, Nanyang Technological University.

To find out more about the Malaya Black & White project, please go to


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