John Stamford

Created by Robert Marchand & John Goldsmith

Alternately known as the Singapore Sling or the Asian Connection series, these were a string of movies made for Australian television, starring John Waters as an Australian ex-pat working as a private eye in Singapore.

When we first meet him, JOHN STAMFORD is a former journalist, played by Australian TV vet John Waters, whose beat for over twenty years was South-East Asia. Disillusioned by the violence, treachery and corruption he's witnessed, he's set up a one-man detective agency in Singapore.

He seems to be doing okay; he's got a decent-sized place, has enough disposable cash to collect a few rare rare books, and has an off-again, on-again romance going with a good-looking and age-appropriate lady doctor who occasionally stops by. He's even on good terms with the local police.

But he's no mere man of action, at least according to the man who plays him. He works his cases, as Waters reassures us, "by using his intellect, rather than simply being a macho gun-shooting, fast-car-driving sort of type. He has more in common with Sherlock Holmes than any archetype of a private investigator. He's quite intellectual, well read and speaks several languages."

Waters may not be all that savvy about detective fiction -- Stamford does, after all, get into his fair share of chases, fist fights and other shenanigans -- but there is one neat and unexpected break from the formula: Stamford doesn't drive, relying instead on cabs and mooched lifts to get around Singapore.

In the first film, Singapore Sling (1993), Annie, who representative a Docteurs sans frontieres-type group called World Action For Children, discovers that someone is selling fake drugs and, as a result, people are dying. WAC employs Internet (Remember -- this was filmed in 1993), a large international detective agency to investigate, but Annie asks Stamford to see what he can find out. But Stamford soon finds himself in a dangerous love triangle, caught between Annie and her long-lost (and presumed-dead) criminal husband, played with creepy conviction by a bloated Jan Michael Vincent.

It's not bad; the setting is different, Waters is a likable enough bloke, quietly rugged, tough enough to get the job done but displaying enough smarts to make it believable, and the plot, while not particularly complex and relying a little too heavily on coincidence, is diverting enough. It apparently impressed enough viewers that three sequels were filmed during an 18-month binge on location in Singapore and in studios in Sydney in 1994, and aired the next year on Australian TV.

By Road to Mandalay (1995), Annie's long gone, and Stamford has a new girlfriend, Carla.He also finds himself conducting two separate investigations. One is looking into the murders of the daughter and only grandson of an aging local mobster, Y.C. Kung. Theo ther is looking into the killing of a close friend, Konrad Woolff, who worked for Internet. The investigations, it turns out, are linked somehow, and Stamford finds himself a target.

In Old Flames, a famous film director and his crew roll into town for two weeks of location shooting, and Stamford's gobsmacked to discover the leading lady, Francis "Frankie" Lane, is an old girlfriend. Carla? None too pleased. But romantic complications are piut on hold when the leading man is killed and Stamford suspects foul play.

The final entry in the series, Midnight Orchid, finds Stamford and Carla attending the wedding reception of an old -- and wealthy -- friend. But when almost everyone else at their table is poisoned, Stamford has to figure out who the killer was -- and who the intended victim was.

TELEVISION MOVIES

  • SINGAPORE SLING...Watch it now!
    (1993, Barron Entertainment)
    90 minutes
    Written by Robert Marchand
    Story by John Goldsmith
    Directed by Robert Marchand
    Starring John Waters as JOHN STAMFORD
    Also starring Deborra-Lee Furness, Andy Anderson,

  • ROAD TO MANDALAY
    (1995, Barron Entertainment)
    Written by Keith Aberdein
    Directed by

    John LaingStarring John Waters as JOHN STAMFORD
    With Simon Bossell as Tony
    Josephine Byrnes as Carla
    and Jemma Wilks as Lily Ho
    Also starring Linden Goh, John Howard, Michael Ironside, Jitarth Jadeja, Barry Langrishe, Pat Morita

  • OLD FLAMES
    (1995, Barron Entertainment)
    Written by Peter Schreck
    Directed by
    Michael Carson
    Starring John Waters as JOHN STAMFORD
    With Simon Bossell as Tony
    Josephine Byrnes as Carla
    and Jemma Wilks as Lily Ho
    Also starring Priscilla Barnes, Ray Barrett, Chris Haywood, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Lech Mackiewicz

  • MIDNIGHT ORCHID
    (1995, Barron Entertainment)
    Written by
    Directed by
    Geoffrey Nottage
    Starring John Waters as JOHN STAMFORD
    With Simon Bossell as Tony
    Josephine Byrnes as Carla
    and Jemma Wilks as Lily Ho
    Also starring Khym Lam, Anthony Valentine, Anthony Brandon Wong

RELATED LINKS

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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