Modesty Blaise (1966)
It’s not a parody. Can we all agree to stop calling these spy spoofs and Bond parodies? There have been 3 huge trends in well-established character movies that filmmakers and actors have cashed in on. #1 Favorite character fighting spies just before and during WWII, #2 Classic characters up against Cold War communists, and #3 Revive an old franchise in the new Bond model. It’s not a spoof of Bond, it’s an attempt to shoehorn older characters into a new genre that appeared to be making a lot of money. Modesty Blaise is good enough on her own, I would have rather seen a more canonical offering than this.
All that said, I really enjoyed Monica Vitti as Modesty Blaise and Terence Stamp as Willie Garvin. There was some really random shit that went down in this movie but enough of it was good that it was a lot of fun. Technically, kind of sort of, yes, they are quasi-spies working for British Intelligence. I don’t think I’ve seen a movie like this from this generation or the preceding one showing a man and woman as fully cooperating equals. Both are capricious and unpredictable but their unswerving loyalty to each other lent a lot to the story. Also, they had this resilient independence and self-sufficiency that was fairly incredible at times. There are moments where you start to feel bad for anyone who tries to capture them or double-cross them because it will invariably backfire. I’m a sucker for competent heroes. Flawed or reluctant heroes are fine, antiheroes have their place as well, but Modesty and Willie highlight how many protagonists in similar movies just sort of bumble along through luck and not skill.
So, Legendary Pictures, please option a Modesty Blaise film! You’re the only ones I trust to do it right.
If you watch it as a spy movie it will be overwhelmed by its multitudinous peers. Watch it as a Modesty Blaise film instead and simply enjoy the “spies” as a fortunate happenstance.
p.s. Monica Vitti looks like Barbara Streisand’s daughter and Jennifer Lawrence’s mom.