HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Favourite, The
Mysteries of the Gods
Coming Home
De Sade
Patti Cake$
Hellbound
Final Destination 2
Romance
Bros: After the Screaming Stops
Cockleshell Heroes, The
Mule, The
Sunday in the Country
Nutcracker Fantasy
Spellcaster
Hipsters
Executive Action
Captain Marvel
Zombie Girl
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Rhinoceros
Monkey King 3, The
Adventurers, The
Stripped to Kill
Daughter of Dr. Jekyll
Aladdin's Magic Lamp
Christopher Robin
Hole in the Ground, The
Daniel
Blue Christmas
Death Trip
She's Missing
Return of the Soldier
Shaft
Summer Lovers
Robert the Bruce
Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings, The
Kindergarten Teacher, The
Carne
Penny Slinger: Out of the Shadows
Girls Town
   
 
Newest Articles
The Hole in the Ground: Director Lee Cronin Interview
She's Missing: Director Alexandra McGuinness Interview
Woo's the Boss: Last Hurrah for Chivalry & Hand of Death on Blu-ray
Get Ahead in Showbiz: Expresso Bongo and It's All Happening
Outer Space and Outta Sight: Gonks Go Beat on Blu-ray
Tucked: The Derren Nesbitt Interview
Locomotion Pictures: The Best of British Transport Films on Blu-ray
Roman Scandals: Extreme Visions from Ancient Rome
Spider-Wrong and Spider-Right: The Dragon's Challenge and Into the Spider-Verse
Monster Dog: Cujo on Blu-ray
For Christ's Sake: Jesus Christ Superstar and The Last Temptation of Christ
Not In Front of the Children: Inappropriate Kids Movies
Deeper into Ozploitation: Next of Kin and Fair Game
Between the Wars: Babylon Berlin Series 1&2 on DVD
Hard Luck Story: Detour on Blu-ray
   
 
  Modesty Blaise Diamonds Are A Girl's Best FriendBuy this film here.
Year: 1966
Director: Joseph Losey
Stars: Monica Vitti, Terence Stamp, Dirk Bogarde, Harry Andrews, Michael Craig, Clive Revill, Rossella Falk, Alexander Knox, Tina Aumont, Joe Melia
Genre: Comedy, Thriller, Science Fiction, Adventure
Rating:  5 (from 3 votes)
Review: One of the United Kingdom's top agents has been on assignment abroad in Amsterdam, but has suffered a rather major mishap when he was obliterated in an explosion, only his battered hat surviving. The powers that be in London decide there is only one person to continue that mission, and she will have to be brought in from the outside: international jewel thief Modesty Blaise (Monica Vitti) who has no qualms about working for whoever pays her the highest amount. With fifty million in diamonds at stake, which could end up in her possession if she plays her cards right, she accepts the offer and sets about investigating who is behind the criminal goings-on. Could it be evil mastermind Gabriel (Dirk Bogarde)?

Scriptwriter Evan Jones adapted the pulp fiction heroine's outlandish adventures for the screen, though original comic strip author Peter O'Donnell had a hand in it, and who did they choose to direct it? Richard Lester? Mario Bava? Ken Russell? No, Joseph Losey, of course! Here we see Losey mixing the wacky irreverence of Accident and the pop art pastiche of The Servant... erm, well, no, not really, indeed there were many even at the time wondering why a heavyweight filmmaker like Losey had been given this assignment, never mind why he had accepted it. Modesty Blaise carried a cool, devil may care attitude that begins to look like general apathy as it wears on with the plot hardly seeming to matter as one kitschy set piece follows another, with casual cruelty and tongue in cheek humour carrying most of the action.

Dirk Bogarde's wry, effete performance was the real highlight: silver-haired Gabriel must be the laziest master criminal ever, spending most of his time lounging around in the sun, eating rich food and drinking exotic cocktails. In fact, the incidentals are what keep you watching, because the story isn't really worth following as it came across as nobody involved - aside from O'Donnell - was particularly bothered about sustaining it, leaving the sense of showing up at a posh party only to be ignored for the whole evening as the others were more caught up in their own selfish desires. Occasionally something would break through this fug of self-satisfaction, but it was usually either an extremely arch joke or a bit of business flirting with sexual sadism as strong as they could get away with in 1966.

As ever with the sixties spy movies, James Bond loomed large, and though this was essentially spoofing the genre it was the Fleming superspy and all his trappings that Modesty Blaise owed the biggest debt to, it didn't matter that this was a female agent we were dealing with, the tropes remained the same. So that meant Bond-style weapons ranging from an umbrella gun to a laser-firing missile which brings down a plane, which could pass muster in a sincere outing, only then there's the goldfish in Gabriel's drink, the silent mime (Joe Melia) who is kidnapped and gagged in spite of there being no way he would say anything anyway (dedicated to his art to the last, this chap), the ingenious way Modesty's radio equipment is hidden about sidekick Willie Garvin's person (Terence Stamp's blue eyes were rarely more piercing), and the way her hair continually changes colour, at times in the space of one scene.

All of this was so much of a put-on that it prompted musings that this wasn't worth any kind of genuine appreciation when there was no-one on the screen or behind the camera remotely interested in delivering anything but cold camp: there were even a couple of instances of Vitti and Stamp breaking into song, which will make you glad this film wasn't a musical. The overall impression is one of a bunch of grown-ups playing at being spies and not being particularly bothered if you're not having as much fun as they are, which was likely why this flopped and there was no subsequent run of Modesty movies, after all they had exhausted the possibilities of the character by about the half hour mark in this effort, never mind sustaining it to the end. And yet, there was a callousness here that constantly promised to turn the experience into something more intriguing than it managed, though any tension was too often scuppered by Modesty never seeming as if she would ever be in any real peril. One good thing: Johnny Dankworth's catchy theme was rather fine.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 23544 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Joseph Losey  (1909 - 1984)

Cerebral, at times pretentious, American director, from the theatre. His American career (The Boy with Green Hair, a remake of M, The Prowler) was short-lived due to the Hollywood anti-Communist blacklist, and Losey escaped to Britain.

Almost a decade of uninspiring work followed, but come the sixties he produced a series of challenging films: The Criminal, Eva, King and Country, Secret Ceremony, The Romantic Englishwoman and Mr. Klein, and Harold Pinter collaborations The Servant, Accident and The Go-Between. He even directed science fiction like The Damned and Modesty Blaise. Not always successful - he also has turkeys like Boom and The Assassination of Trotsky among his credits - but his best films have a cult following with a particularly European flavour.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
  Derrick Smith
Paul Shrimpton
Darren Jones
   

 

Last Updated: