Modesty Blaise, a secret agent whose hair color, hair style, and mod clothing change at a snap of her fingers is being used by the British government as a decoy in an effort to thwart a diamond heist. She is being set up by the feds but is wise to the plot and calls in sidekick Willie Garvin and a few other friends to outsmart them. Meanwhile, at his island hideaway, Gabriel, the diamond thief has his own plans for Blaise and Garvin. (Re-upload)
Monica Vitti ... Modesty Blaise
Terence Stamp ... Willie Garvin
Dirk Bogarde ... Gabriel
Harry Andrews ... Tarrant
Michael Craig ... Paul
Clive Revill ... McWhirter / Sheik Abu Tahir
Alexander Knox ... Minister
Rossella Falk ... Mrs. Fothergill (as Rosella Falk)
Scilla Gabel ... Melina
Michael Chow ... Weng
Joe Melia ... Crevier
Saro Urzì ... Basilio
Tina Aumont ... Nicole (as Tina Marquand)
I\'ve never read the Modesty Blaise comics. What inspired me to rent this DVD was a love of 60\'s kitsch fashions, and an immense respect for Monica Vitti. And while I was baffled by the events in the film -- it didn\'t seem to make a DAMN bit of sense the first time around -- I still found myself loving it. And on repeated viewings I love it even more.
What\'s to love? Primarily, the quirkiness of EVERYTHING in the film: the direction is off-kilter (so many things happen in parts of the screen that you\'re not looking at, and the pacing is bizarre to say the least: a constant string of anticlimaxes that I found refreshing), the acting is deadpan and weird (Bogarde\'s shifty, psychopathic, and slightly flaky villain...Stamp\'s disgruntled but cheerful anti-hero...Rosella Falk\'s twitchy, wide-eyed, barely-restrained violence -- she is a stand-out highlight in the movie...and Monica Vitti, expressing herself mostly through strangely-timed gestures and facial expressions...just check out her \"How do you get this off?\" routine), the sets are gorgeously dressed (Gabriel\'s atmospheric island, and the fantastic cell with the spiral staircase), and the plotting is all over the place. Who\'s double-crossing who? Why are they doing that? WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON? On first impression, I felt the film was just \"winging it,\" making it up as it went along. But far from it...it\'s elaborately plotted, just strangely presented.
Really, I love this film, and I\'m so glad it\'s seen re-release. It\'s sloppy, crazy, irreverent, and fun. If you view it as a weird little film -- not as a spoof, or an adaptation of the comic, or a reflection of the times, or as an attempt to be hip or strange -- I think you\'ll enjoy it as much as I did.
I feel I must come to the defence of one of my favorite literary heroines. Modesty Blaise, as originally conceived by Peter O\'Donnell for a long-running comic strip and series of novels, was the feminine reply to James Bond, and in many ways a superior character. She had wit, charm, poise, and a unique relationship with her partner, Willie Garvin.
Unfortunately, this movie adaptation preserves almost none of the charm that made the Modesty Blaise stories so entertaining. And now that this travesty has been released on DVD, I fear O\'Donnell will lose scores of fans unnecessarily.
That\'s not to say that Modesty Blaise: the movie doesn\'t have its moments. Indeed, there are some signs of the original characters, even though O\'Donnell has said only a single line of his original script remained in the finished product. Terence Stamp is almost perfect as knife-throwing Willie Garvin (brunette hair notwithstanding) and, when she has her dark wig on, Monica Vitti is a dead ringer for her comic strip counterpart. At least so long as she keeps her mouth shut.
Unfortunately, Vitti just isn\'t able to pull this off. Her accent is all wrong for the part -- she should have followed in the footsteps of most Bond girls before her and been dubbed, and she just isn\'t that convincing in the action sequences. And without this glue, the whole movie falls apart.
The script reads like an Avengers reject, with only a sparking of the wit and originality of O\'Donnell\'s work. A number of major errors are made with the characters -- Willie is shown shooting guns, which he never touched in the books, and even worse, Willie and Modesty fall in love! The one aspect of the books and comic strip that sets Modesty Blaise apart from all other fictional heroes is the relationship between Modesty and Willie that goes far beyond romantic entanglements. The only thing I can compare it to is the relationship between Mulder and Scully on The X-Files -- and watch how fast that show died when those characters became lovers.
And don\'t ask me where that giant scorpion tattoo on Modesty\'s leg came from!
But the one element that made me just want to be sick is the song. No, not the theme, which isn\'t bad. I mean the love song Willie and Modesty start crooning FOR NO REASON twice in the film -- once during a driving scene, and again during the final battle. The less said about this the better.
Modesty Blaise came out in 1966, near the start of the \"Bond spoof\" cycle that included OK Connery (1967) and Casino Royale (1967). Both those films are infinitely preferable to this. I can only hope we don\'t have to wait long before a serious Modesty Blaise film is made -- if done right, it will blow 007 off the screen.
I have been a fan of the Modesty Blaise comic for as long as I can remember, so when I stumbled across this movie adaptation a few years back, I just had to see it. I did, and I liked it a lot. Not as an adaptation, because it\'s nothing as it\'s comic and novel counterparts, but as an hilarious spoof of the whole sixties spy movie phenomena.
Terrence Stamp as Willie Garvin is funny and cute, but he wouldn\'t stand a chance against the original. The same goes for Monica Vitti\'s Modesty who lacks the strenght of the real Modesty, but makes up for it in quirkiness.
This movie is perfect for everyone who like the concept of a Bond-parody, but was disappointed with the crudeness of Austin Powers. It will also appeal to Modesty Blaise fans with a sense of humor, and of course to lovers of pop art.
* Peter O\'Donnell complains that of his original screenplay, only one line remains: \"What do you know about Wilberforce?\"
* When Willie Garvin is introduced, there is a close-up of a painting of the comic strip version of Modesty Blaise.
* At one point Modesty Blaise is shown looking at copies of the real-life Modesty Blaise comic strip, which originally appeared in the London Evening Standard.
* Peter O\'Donnell was invited to write a novelization of this film. The book, based upon O\'Donnell\'s original screenplay rather than this film, was a huge success and spawned a series of best-selling novels that O\'Donnell wrote until 1996.
* Clive Revill was fourth choice and the part was not cast until shooting had begun.
* The theme tune is performed by an uncredited David & Jonathan.