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A pop-art explosion that makes Austin Powers look demure, Modesty Blaise is a bizarre relic from the heyday of Swinging London. Based on a comic book, the movie is strong on psychedelic art direction, long on camp (especially Dirk Bogarde's aristocratic, white-haired villain), and thin on plot--and what plot there is cannot possibly be deciphered. Italian actress Monica Vitti, the ennui-weary star of many Antonioni classics, makes an odd choice for stylish spy Modesty Blaise (a female 007 without portfolio), especially given her uncertain command of English. The gifted director Joseph Losey, not noted for his humor, apes various New Wave techniques in his approach, even allowing Vitti and costar Terence Stamp to warble an off-key song. But the most coherent contribution is the jazzy swing of John Dankworth's score, which you won't be able to get out of your head, even if you want to. --Robert Horton
From the Back Cover
Her entire appearance changes with a finger snap. She thrashes villains without missing a spiked-heel step. Welcome to the mad, mod world of sexy, stylish intrigue as British comic strip character Modesty Blaise comes to life in this outrageous spoof.
Hired by the government to prevent a diamond heist, Modesty (Monica Vitti) recruits her wily sidekick Willie Garvin (Terence Stamp) to help her battle crafty, colorful foes on the secluded island of a suave mastermind thief (Dirk Bogarde). Grooving with mile-high hairdos and swinging, psychedelic wall patterns, Modesty Blaise is campy entertainment at its best!
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Based on the popular long-running comic strip character, the story concerns high-class jewel and art thief Modesty Blaise (played bewitchingly by Monica Vitti) who is called upon to investigate the actions of reclusive millionaire and criminal Gabriel (Dirk Bogarde) who lives on a foreboding island.
Modesty enlists the help of her associate and some-time lover Willie Garvin (Terence Stamp) and soon Modesty is up to her neck in psychedelic espionage and sexy costumes! However, there is always Gabriel's assistant to contend with: the man-eating, sadistic Mrs Fothergill (Rosella Falk)...
The plot is as wafer-thin as Modesty's silken dresses; between the time that Modesty is recruited to the final showdown on Gabriel's island, there is about 90 minutes of plot that I cannot even fathom. Dirk Bogarde relishes his role as the decadent Gabriel, wearing a John Inman-esque fright wig and drinking out of impossibly-sized glasses. Another hilaious scene is where Mrs Fothergill is holding "diving lessons". During the climactic battle, Modesty and Willie have a time-out to sing a rather annoying love song, and somehow Arabs on stallions are mysteriously transported to the island to assist Modesty in her showdown with Gabriel!!...Totally unbelievable and only possible in the 60's.
Nontheless, MODESTY BLAISE is a charming piece of fluffy eye-candy and should be savored as the harmless schlock that it was meant to be.
Highly recommended. (Single-sided, single-layer disc).
Plot? None really - just a series of delicious and sometimes deadly encounters as Spy vs Spy vs Spy vs Spy ..... in dear old Amsterdam, and then later aboard ships [yachts] and that odd island with the spectacular Arabian finish - [Modesty it seems was adopted!] The petard [mino cannon a Gift to Modesty - pointing at Buckingham Palace - off-lens - is a hoot!]
DIRK BOGARDE has a field-day as Gabriel - the oh so chic and campy bad guy with an umbrella for all occasions - possibly to augment each outfit!
A breathtaking Terence Stamp [still has those 'baby blues'] is Modesty's trusty sick-kick - also with the mandatory hair color change[s].
Quite delightful to behold - but be warned - this one needs eye-shades occasionally - it is in VIVID color.
Great to have on DVD!