- Modesty Blaise (1966 film)
original movie poster by Bob Peak
Directed by Joseph Losey Produced by Joseph Janni Written by Evan Jones, based upon the comic strip and original story by Peter O'Donnell Starring Monica Vitti
Music by Johnny Dankworth Cinematography Jack Hildyard Editing by Reginald Beck Distributed by 20th Century Fox Release date(s) May 1966 Running time 119 min. Language English
Modesty Blaise was a comedic spy-fi motion picture produced in the United Kingdom and released worldwide in 1966. It was loosely based upon the popular comic strip Modesty Blaise by Peter O'Donnell, who wrote the original story and scenario upon which Evan Jones based his screenplay. The film was directed by Joseph Losey with music composed by Johnny Dankworth and the theme song, Modesty, sung by David and Jonathan.
The film was released at the height of two cinematic trends: the popularity of James Bond had spawned a number of similarly themed films, and many of these films rather than being serious spy adventures were instead created as parodies of Bond and his genre. Director Joseph Losey and the screenwriters chose to follow the latter approach, by making Modesty Blaise a campy, sometimes surrealistic comedy-adventure.
The film story sees former crime boss Modesty Blaise (played by Italian actress Monica Vitti) being recruited by a branch of British Intelligence to help prevent a diamond theft, which leads to Blaise getting into conflict with Gabriel (Dirk Bogarde), the head of the diamond theft ring who maintains a compound in the Mediterranean where his right-hand woman, the Amazonian Mrs. Fothergill, alleviates her boredom by killing people.
As the mission progresses, Blaise is united with her longtime assistant and confidant, the Cockney Willie Garvin (Terence Stamp), an expert knife-thrower and master of disguise, who owes Blaise a life debt from his earlier life as a criminal.
O'Donnell's original screenplay went through a large number of rewrites by other people, and he often later complained that the finished movie retained only one line of his original dialogue (O'Donnell states this in some of his introductions to reprints of his comic strip by Titan Books). As a result, although the basic plotline and characters coincide with the comic strip, many changes are made. Some are cosmetic—Vitti appears as a blonde for most of the film (except for one sequence in which she actually dresses up like a real-life version of the comic strip character). Likewise, Stamp initially appears in a blond wig and subsequently reverts to his natural dark hair colour. Other changes are more profound. For example, as the film progresses Willie and Modesty fall in love and decide to get married (proclaiming same during a sudden musical production number that erupts during a lull); this breaks a cardinal rule O'Donnell set out when he created the characters that they would never have a romantic relationship (the writer stayed true to this edict to the end of the comic strip in 2001).
There are sequences in the film that coincide with O'Donnell's original story, such as Willie killing a thug in an alley and a few other minor points.
The film includes a metafictional element during one sequence where Blaise, while visiting a friend's apartment, comes across several newspapers with the Modesty Blaise comic strip which are shown in close-up (artist Jim Holdaway's work is prominently shown as is Peter O'Donnell's name). This is followed by the above-described sequence in which Vitti briefly dresses like the character. Supporters of the film suggest this indicates that the 1966 film is not intended to take place in the same "universe" as the comic strip.
Prior to the release of the film, O'Donnell novelised his version of the screenplay as a novel entitled Modesty Blaise. This book was a critical and sales success, resulting in O'Donnell alternating between writing novels and writing the comic strip for the next 30 years. O'Donnell's version of the screenplay was also used as the basis for a late-1990s Modesty Blaise graphic novel published by DC Comics.
The film itself was a moderate success at the time, and today is generally considered a camp classic, although fans of the Modesty Blaise character remain divided on its merits. Two more serious attempts at adapting the comic strip for the screen occurred in 1982 with a made-for-television pilot film starring Ann Turkel as Blaise, and again in 2003 with My Name Is Modesty, a prequel starring Alexandra Staden (and omitting the Willie Garvin character entirely).
- 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)
- Oliver MacGreevy - Tattooed Man
- Jon Bluming - Hans
The film was entered into the 1966 Cannes Film Festival.
- ^ "Festival de Cannes: Modesty Blaise". festival-cannes.com. http://www.festival-cannes.com/en/archives/ficheFilm/id/2832/year/1966.html. Retrieved 2009-03-08.
The Modesty Blaise series by Peter O'Donnell Novels: Short story collections: Characters: Comic stripsModesty Blaise (1963-2002) Film adaptations Films directed by Joseph Losey 1940sThe Boy with Green Hair (1948) 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980sThe Trout (1982) · Steaming (1985)
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Modesty Blaise (1982 film) — Starring Ann Turkel Country of origin United States Language(s) English This version of Modesty Blaise is an American TV pilot program, intended to be the start of a TV series. It was written by Stephen Zito, directed by Reza Badigi, with Barney… … Wikipedia
Modesty Blaise (disambiguation) — Modesty Blaise is a comic strip character created by Peter O Donnell. Modesty Blaise may also refer to: Modesty Blaise (novel), the 1965 novel by O Donnell Modesty Blaise (1966 film), a 1966 film based upon the comic strip Modesty Blaise (1982… … Wikipedia
Modesty Blaise (novel) — Modesty Blaise Hardc … Wikipedia
Modesty Blaise — ist eine Comic und Romanfigur, die 1963 von dem englischen Autor Peter O’Donnell geschaffen wurde. Sie stellt eine sehr attraktive, aber auch äußerst gefährliche Geheimagentin dar, die den britischen Geheimdienst unterstützt. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 … Deutsch Wikipedia
Modesty Blaise (film) — Modesty Blaise Données clés Titre original Modesty Blaise Réalisation Joseph Losey Scénario Evan Jones et Stanley Dubens d après la bande dessinée éponyme Acteurs principaux Monica Vitti Terence Stamp Dirk B … Wikipédia en Français
Modesty Blaise — This article is about the character and the comic strip/film/novel franchise. For other uses, see Modesty Blaise (disambiguation). Modesty Blaise Cover of the first U.S. printing of the Modesty Blaise novel Author … Wikipedia
Blaise — can refer to: Places France* Blaise sous Arzillières, a village and commune in the Marne département of north eastern France * Cirey sur Blaise, a village and commune in the Haute Marne département of north eastern France * Courcelles sur Blaise … Wikipedia
Film anglais — Cinéma britannique Le Royaume Uni a exercé une influence dans le développement aussi bien technologique, que commercial et artistique du cinéma. Cependant, malgré une histoire jalonnée de productions à succès, l industrie est caractérisée par un… … Wikipédia en Français
Film britannique — Cinéma britannique Le Royaume Uni a exercé une influence dans le développement aussi bien technologique, que commercial et artistique du cinéma. Cependant, malgré une histoire jalonnée de productions à succès, l industrie est caractérisée par un… … Wikipédia en Français
My Name Is Modesty — DVD cover Directed by Scott Spiegel Produced by … Wikipedia