Modesty Blaise

Joseph Losey, 1966, UK

This was the right kind of easy movie to soothe my tired mind on a Friday evening after a tough week. It was continuing my mini Joseph Losey season, but actually I was in the kind of state where I really appreciated Monica Vitti being foxy in fabulous outfits and a plot that didn’t matter.

Modesty Blaise is a sexy secret agent who helps the government fight evil megalomaniacs in a James Bond stylee, though this film is more Austin Powers – or the kind of thing Austin Powers was based on. But Austin Powers is funnier.

It comes from a comic book, so it is meant to be fun and cartoonish. But it is so daft, from English civil servants going everywhere in their bowler hats to a crazy middle eastern sheik who lives in a tent in the desert.

Dirk Bogard is Gabriel, our (suave and slightly camp) criminal mastermind, living in a villa on a rock in the middle of the Mediterranean. His sidekicks are a Scottish accountant (!), and an evil wife who tortures and kills her slaves like a psychedelic dominatrix. Great outfits, though.

Modesty teams up with her long-term buddy Willie Garvin, played by an incredibly dashing Terrence Stamp doing a loveable cockney rogue kinda thing. There are even a couple of musical interludes:

It’s kitsch and over the top and silly, but has for sure been a big influence on how the 60s is remembered and inspired other culture. I learnt that Gorillaz repurposed the (John Dankworth) theme tune for their track Rock The House.

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