Modesty Blaise (1966)

JOSEPH LOSEY

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

United Kingdom, 1966Modesty Blaise Ltd., Twentieth Century-Fox Productions.  Screenplay by , based on the comic strip by , . Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Cannes Film Festival 1966.

She’s an ace with a switch blade, she’s undetectable when undercover, and best of all, she can change her hair colour in a flash! Screw Barbarella and her vapid helplessness, Modesty Blaise can handle herself in any situation, and watching her do it in this far-out, groovy sixties spy film is more fun than you can handle. Sort of a female James Bond flick with an emphasis on retro kitsch (even at the time), the film stars the delightful , more famous for her grave performances in Antonioni movies than for being a comedic starlet, as the lady sleuth who is also known for her clever criminal activity. When the government gets wind that the thousands of dollars in diamonds that they are giving to a Middle Eastern monarch are in danger of being hijacked en route, they feel they have no choice but to hire her services (despite her spotty background) to discover the identity of the possible thief. Doing so means that Modesty will have to bring on board a truckload of clothing (she changes about every five minutes) and have her arsenal of weapons ready, but even without them she’d do fine. She can handle herself in any situation, and she’s ably assisted by a fiery young Terence Stamp as her equally shady sidekick. stars as the dandy villain (and is a riot), and the bubblegum-coloured costumes and sets are to die for. One of director Joseph Losey’s more memorable productions, and a great piece of time-capsule nostalgia.

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