Modesty Blaise

scaramanga1scaramanga1 The English RivieraPosts: 845Chief of Staff
edited January 2005 in James Bond Literature
I know Modesty is one of our own Willie Garvin's pet subjects -but we do not actually have a topic dedicated too her. I am currently reading The Impossible Virgin at the moment and I am loving it -sure in some ways it seems old fashioned -but the imagery is great the characters are excellent in a cartoon comic strip sort of way and the plot is interesting -I was wondering how many people have read any of the Modesty series -and how they rate them. The Impossible Virgin is my first sojourn into the realm of Miss Blaise -and as to be expected I am really enjoying it. She seems like a hot lady who you mustn't get on the wrong side of.

I can imagine Bond and Miss Blaise crossing paths also -that would be an interesting encounter! ;) She seems a hell of a lot more interesting than Jinx anyway.

So Willie Garvin -do you have any favourite Modesty Blaise tales? Which ones do you reccomend?
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Comments

  • darenhatdarenhat The Old PuebloPosts: 2,029Quartermasters
    Pardon my ignorance, but I'm not familiar with Modesty Blaise. It sounds intriguing. Are these older novels, or recent? I'd like to go hunting for one.
  • scaramanga1scaramanga1 The English RivieraPosts: 845Chief of Staff
    Quoting darenhat:
    Pardon my ignorance, but I'm not familiar with Modesty Blaise. It sounds intriguing. Are these older novels, or recent? I'd like to go hunting for one.


    Modesty Blaise is the creation of Peter O'Donell and appeared in the Evening Standard as a strip cartoon in 1962, and with the success of the cartoon novels soon followed. The one I'm reading now was first published in 1971.
  • scaramanga1scaramanga1 The English RivieraPosts: 845Chief of Staff
    Just found out there was a modesty blaise film made in 1966 check out the trailer here - http://videodetective.com/home.asp?PublishedID=407827

    it is hilarious as it is like a cross between The Avengers and austin powers!

    Also miramax apparently have two Modesty Blaise scripts -so you never know there may be a new film in the future.
  • Willie GarvinWillie Garvin Posts: 1,412MI6 Agent
    edited January 2005
    Peter O'Donnell created the Modesty Blaise comic strip in 1962.He'd previously written the fantasy/adventure strip Garth but when Bondmania was just taking root he sold the Daily Express on his new strip idea with one phrase."The female James Bond."And with the aid of his friend,the noted artist Jim Holdaway, one of the most popular adventure strips in the world was born.

    Modesty Blaise's official biography from the files of MI-6 reads as follows...

    Date of birth: unknown.Place of birth: unknown.Age:approximately 26
    years old.Education: Self-acquired and excellent.Occupation:Retired.Previous Occupation: Suspected head of "The Network",an international crime syndicate based in Algeria.Financial category: Very rich.Present address:London W.1.Close friends:Only one--William Garvin,soldier of fortune(retired). Hobbies:Sculpting precious stones.Future plans: ? ? ?

    The comic strip biography of Modesty Blaise tells of a small female child,a war refugee,her memory erased through shock,who escaped from a prison camp in Greece to a displaced person's camp in Persia.She saves the life of an elderly professor from a thief,and in return,he educates her and names her Modesty.While in the camp,the little girl gradually grows up to be a dark-haired blue-eyed statuesque beauty.She outgrows most of her clothing and is sometimes nearly naked-a situation that doesn't bother her.Hence,the ironic first name.Her surname comes from her favorite book: Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur--Blaise is the wizard Merlin's tutor.Modesty and her elderly friend travel the Middle East.When the old man dies, Modesty buries him and sets off for civilization.Soon,she's spinning a roulette wheel in Tangier.

    But in two years time,Modesty Blaise has taken over her late employer's gang.In the space of two more years she becomes the head of the international crime syndicate,"The Network".She reshapes The Network,removing all of it's ties to drugs,slavery and prostitution.Before long,under Modesty's guidance,The Network turns it's complete attention to art thefts and other non-violent crimes.In certain rare instances The Network allies itself with Interpol,Scotland Yard,the British Secret Service and the Central Intelligence Agency,in going after terrorists and drug lords.

    While in Saigon,Modesty Blaise first sees Willie Garvin.Garvin is a tough Cockney and erstwhile member of the French Foreign Legion.A very dangerous man,Garvin is an expert with almost every weapon imaginable from gun to sword to knife.And he's adept at karate and Thai kickboxing.He's a violent thug with few redeeming qualities--aside from being able to recite the entire King James Bible by memory.But when Modesty Blaise buys him out of jail-without any strings attached-Garvin immediately changes his ways and becomes her trusted right-hand man.Willie always calls Modesty "Princess".Partners in crime,they retire to England with their ill-gotten fortunes, hoping to start their lives anew and away from danger.As part of a business arrangement,Modesty marries an Englishman in order to gain British citizenship and then divorces him.But once established in England,the two friends find their comfortable new lives boring in contrast to their heady days of adventure.So when Sir Gerald Tarrant,the head of British Intelligence,appeals to them for their help in a mission requiring an intimate knowledge of the underworld-Modesty and Willie become unpaid agents for Great Britain.

    And with that,their exploits begin...

    Modesty Blaise was intended for the Daily Express.But it was rejected at the last moment on the grounds that it's titular character was "a fallen woman",and thus unsuitable for a family paper.The Evening Standard immediately took it on,and it debuted on Easter,1963.Soon,the MB comic strip was syndicated to 76 newspapers and magazines in over 35 different countries.It became one of the most popular adventure strips in Europe, and occasionally appeared in the USA and Canada as well.


    In 1966,a major motion picture was made based upon the Modesty Blaise comic strip.Monica Vitti played Modesty,Terence Stamp was Willie,and Harry Andrews played Sir Gerald.It was directed in a hideously camp style by Joseph Losey.This film is to Modesty Blaise what the 1967 Casino Royale motion picture is to James Bond.This had originally held so much promise and potential.But sadly,it became an unfortunate travesty made by people who were clearly embarassed by their source material.They showed contempt for the subject matter.Losey apologists still find deep significance in this poorly written,greatly miscast and badly made film.It makes the then-current Batman tv series look like cinema verite.It's very loosely based on the first continuity in the strip and it is worth seeing if only to see what went wrong.But don't expect a faithful adaptation.The only thing I like about this movie is the title song John Dankworth composed.

    One good thing came out of the 1966 movie debacle-Peter O'Donnell decided to turn his unfilmed screenplay into the first Modesty Blaise novel.This book was very well received in both the UK and USA.And so,while also writing the continuity for the MB comic strip,O'Donnell penned 12 other Modesty Blaise novels.

    These are the titles:

    1)Modesty Blaise
    2)I,Lucifer
    3)The Impossible Virgin
    4)Sabre Tooth
    5)A Taste for Death
    6)Dead Man's Handle
    7)Last Day in Limbo
    8)Dragon's Claw
    9)The Night of Morningstar
    10)The Silver Mistress
    11)The Xanadu Talisman
    12)Pieces of Modesty
    13)Cobra Trap


    Cobra Trap is the last novel in the series and in it Modesty and Willie meet their fates.O'Donnell has explained that having seen what happened with Ian Fleming and James Bond,he doesn't want a continuation novelist to have the opportunity to chronicle Modesty and Willie's further adventures.

    Over the years the Modesty Blaise comic strip has been drawn by four noteworthy individuals-talented artists every one.Jim Holdaway was the first artist and it was he who came up with the distinctive physical and facial appearances of all the characters in the cast.(Jim Holdaway drew the picture that serves as my avatar.)His style was so unique and so much a part of the strip that when he died in 1970,he was considered almost impossible to replace.John Burns(of The Seekers comic strip--which was itself influenced by the MB strip)briefly stepped in.And then the gifted Spanish artist Enrique Romero(of The Cisco Kid strip) gave the comic strip a new vitality all his own.Like Holdaway,Romero is a specialist at drawing the human form--and in the heroic ideal.While Holdaway's Modesty was exotically beautiful,Romero's MB is a busty and gorgeous gal with a face and build along the lines of actresses Caroline Munro and Valerie Leon.After Romero departed to work on other projects,among them,Axa,British artist Neville Colvin took over and depicted the characters in a style eerily similar to that of Holdaway.The Modesty Blaise comic strip was retired in 2000.


    Modesty Blaise has been a cult favorite for many years,and in the mid-1980s,there was an abortive attempt to create a Modesty Blaise tv series.The producer of the hit tv series "Cagney and Lacey" came up with a 50 minute pilot which aired on ABC.It starred Ann Turkel as Modesty and Lewis van Bergen as Willie.It was set in the United States-- specifically,Southern California.Keene Curtis was Tarrant,now a CIA official and Modesty and Willie worked for him.To use a word frequently uttered by my British friends on this site,it was "dire".Not horrible--just rewritten extensively and poorly conceived.Better than the 1966 Modesty Blaise motion picture but that's not a compliment.

    After Species debuted to mainly positive reviews--especially regarding it's star,Natasha Henstridge--there were rumors that she might play Modesty Blaise in a new movie.Similar comments appeared after Catherine Zeta-Jones made her dynamic debut in The Mask of Zorro.Another lovely and athletic young actress well-suited to the role,but again,nothing developed.

    HOWEVER in 2004 Miramax released straight to DVD an entirely new Modesty Blaise motion picture.The title is,My Name Is Modesty.It dramatizes,with remarkable fidelity to the comic strip,the origin of Modesty Blaise and shows how she becomes the head of the crime cartel "The Network".Quentin Tarantino--a long time Modesty fan(not as long as me,however)was the force behind this movie.He had optioned three of O'Donnell's novels:I,Lucifer,A Taste for Death and Sabre Tooth(which Neil Gaiman was going to write and direct).But Tarantino became involved in other projects and the option nearly lapsed.Much earlier,or so the story goes,QT had wanted Uma Thurman to portray Modesty, but she was unavailable.Her performances in Kill Bill,Vols.1 & 2 give us a vague idea of what she might have looked like as MB.

    At any rate,My Name Is Modesty was shot in Romania on a small budget and in just over 18 days.That said,it looks more expensive than it really is.And all things considered, it's a fine motion picture.Not perfect,not a masterpiece,but lightyears ahead of what had come before.Lee and Janet Scott Batchlor wrote the screenplay and their commentary track on the DVD shows that they really did their research.

    Additionally,also among the special fearures on the My Name Is Modesty DVD is an exclusive (and rare) interview with Modesty's creator,Peter O'Donnell.He tells how he created the character and strip.It's practically the equal of seeing Ian Fleming going into great detail on James Bond.

    And there's still more.The My Name Is Modesty DVD features a complete history of the Modesty Blaise comic strip-- from it's first story to it's last.Each summary is illustrated with a frame from the story under discussion.


    As for me?I think Peter O'Donnell is in his own way the equal of Ian Fleming.He's easily as imaginative as Fleming.And conversely,unlikeFleming-who often found the writing of many of the Bond novels a chore(and this sometimes shows in his work)-in all of his Modesty Blaise novels it's obvious that O'Donnell enjoyed writing his books.There's great sense of energy and enthusiam throughout all of the MB novels.O'Donnell's narrative style is quite visual and impressive and his vocabulary is elegant.There's plenty of action,adventure and suspense in each story--but there's also an intelligence on display.Additionally,O'Donnell shrewdly used his prose stories to more fully flesh out all of his comic strip characters.I think every one of his MB novels are worth reading.It's difficult to select a favorite.The earlier books with Modesty and Willie confronting the arch villain Gabriel are particularly fine--but they're all uniformly excellent.

    Pan published the earliest paperback editions of the original hardcover editions.They were followed -in America-by Berkeley Books.In the late 1980s,The Mysterious Press published a limited number of handsome and expensive special hardcover editions of all of the Modesty Blaise series, aimed at the collector's market.These versions have reenforced protective sleeves,are Smythsown with sown-in ribbon markers, and are each signed and numbered by Peter O'Donnell.These particular editions are now quite rare.
    At the same time,Mysterious Press also republished these books in general hardcover form and in paperback.

    Currently,Souvenir Press is reprinting several of the novels in trade paperback editions with the original Jim Holdaway dust jacket art-from the very first hardcovers- on their covers.Their goal may be to reprint all 13 of the MB books.

    I think any fan of adventure fiction-especially the kind typified by the James Bond novels--will also enjoy the exploits of Modesty Blaise.
  • SPECTRENumber1SPECTRENumber1 L.O.Posts: 75MI6 Agent
    Wow Willie! That was very informative! A sidenote: in Pulp Fiction, John Travolta's character, hitman Vincent Vega, is seen reading Modesty Blaise. I wondering if Tarantino is a fan...
  • Willie GarvinWillie Garvin Posts: 1,412MI6 Agent
    edited January 2005
    Quoting SPECTRENumber1:
    Wow Willie! That was very informative! A sidenote: in Pulp Fiction, John Travolta's character, hitman Vincent Vega, is seen reading Modesty Blaise. I wondering if Tarantino is a fan...

    Thanks SPECTRENumber1.See,this is what happens when you ask me a question.The response is more information than anyone could imagine.Or want...:)

    Of course Tarantino is an MB fan.Travolta's reading the Modesty Blaise novel in Pulp Fiction isn't a coincidence...QT "presents" the My Name is Modesty movie.He's an executive producer.
  • scaramanga1scaramanga1 The English RivieraPosts: 845Chief of Staff
    edited January 2005
    It is fantastic to learn so much about this interesting character and the driving force behind her. She really does seem to be a female James Bondesque character and I think there is no doubt that any fan of Bond should read O'Donnell's books. For those of you who are also collecting the Titan James Bond cartoon strip books -I do believe that Titan have published the Modesty strip in the past.

    And Willie you may find I'll be purchasing the My Modesty movie - and not just so I can add to my Tarantino collection!

    There is some really insightful information here. Thanks WG. :D

    Here is the DVD cover for the 1966 film that isn't as good as it should be.
    [img=http://www.dvdtalk.com/dvdsavant/images/538blaise.jpg]Here is a comic strip sketch:[/img][img=http://www.fezocasblurbs.com/cinema/archives/MBSketches002.gif]Here is a pic of Modesty kicking butt:[/img];)" alt="She's definitely a hot chick and I have a thing for brunettes. ;)" />
  • AlexAlex The Eastern SeaboardPosts: 2,695MI6 Agent
    And here's the R1 DVD release. (Which I've just purchased but haven't viewed yet) ;)

    B0002L57XC.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg
  • SPECTRENumber1SPECTRENumber1 L.O.Posts: 75MI6 Agent
    Is My Name is Modesty good?
  • Willie GarvinWillie Garvin Posts: 1,412MI6 Agent
    edited January 2005
    Quoting SPECTRENumber1:
    Is My Name is Modesty good?


    Ultimately you'll have to be the judge regarding it's quality.I think it is--but I'm just happy to see that one studio finally treated the Modesty Blaise character with some respect.I can't promise you'll like it.You don't have to familiar with the MB comic strip to enjoy it, either.Just don't expect a big movie along the lines of one of the more elaborate 007 films.Because if you do,you'll be greatly disappointed.Production values are small but used wisely,so it looks more expensive than it really was.This movie was made so that Miramax wouldn't lose it's option on the Modesty Blaise property and it was made rather quickly.It's not very long either--about 70 minutes or so.

    This film is a character-driven piece with some action and suspense.And as I said in my earlier post on this thread,it's Modesty's origin story,and it's very closely based on the one in the comic strip and the novels.The actors are primarily British and Eastern European and are not household names, but they are all professionals and they each give good performances.

    There's also plenty of information about the MB comic strip's creation,it's characters, and it's overall history among the DVD's many extras.In his interview (on this DVD)Peter O'Donnell explains where he got the idea for Modesty--and no,it wasn't James Bond.

    Who knows?After seeing this movie you might be interested enough to read some of the MB novels and the trade paperbacks reprinting the MB comic strip-which was always aimed at mature audiences,not kids.

    To reiterate:It's not Citizen Kane or Goldfinger, but My Name Is Modesty is pretty good for what it is.
  • scaramanga1scaramanga1 The English RivieraPosts: 845Chief of Staff
    well after your endorsement of it I've just purchased a copy online and should hope to receive it in about a week. :)

    As for novels I'm going to visit a couple of second hand bookshops this week and see if I can pick up any copies at cheap prices -I mena any pan editions will be pennies so they are definitely worth getting. :)
  • scaramanga1scaramanga1 The English RivieraPosts: 845Chief of Staff
    Ok I haven't found any copies of modesty Blaise in the local bookshops -so no doubt will have to resort to ebay and the like. However my copy of My Name Is Modesty has arrived and I will be watching it tonight and will no doubt post my thoughts tomorrow. :)
  • scaramanga1scaramanga1 The English RivieraPosts: 845Chief of Staff
    Ok my thoughts on the My Name is Modesty Film -are that considering it was shot in 18 days -it is quite a good film. The pace is a bit slow at times -but on the whole the writers and director have dealt with the material well. Personally the actress who played Modesty was a little bit too skinny compared to the cartoon comic strip sketches of our heroine -but on the whole she played the role reasonably well. IF Angelina Jolie had not already played Lara Croft -I think she would've been the perfect actress for the role in a big budget version.

    The extra features for this movie are what really makes this item worth having however. The Peter O'Donnell interview is enlightening, and the Scott Spiegel and Quentin Tarantino interview is as you would expect. Tarantino pretty much takes over and enthuses greatly how much of a fan he is of Modesty Blaise. I for one am happy to have this film -and hope to purchase both Graphic novels and the novels written by Peter O'Donnell -as Modesty is a really interesting character -whose capers are as thrilling as Bond's but in a different way. :)
  • scaramanga1scaramanga1 The English RivieraPosts: 845Chief of Staff
    Just watched the 1966 version of Modesty Blaise starring Monica Vitti -it is indeed a bizarred mish mash of Hi camp comedy that doesn't do the source material justice. However for 60s Kitsch it is remarkably of its time with interesting sets great wardrobes and surreal moments -worth having for historical reasons -but no other.
  • Willie GarvinWillie Garvin Posts: 1,412MI6 Agent
    edited February 2005
    Quoting scaramanga1:
    Just watched the 1966 version of Modesty Blaise starring Monica Vitti -it is indeed a bizarred mish mash of Hi camp comedy that doesn't do the source material justice. However for 60s Kitsch it is remarkably of its time with interesting sets great wardrobes and surreal moments -worth having for historical reasons -but no other.



    Agreed. It's a good looking movie with, aside from Monica Vitti,an excellent cast.Given a more serious screenplay(along the lines of The Avengers tv series) and starring an actress who could believably bring Modesty Blaise to life(Modesty lookalike Suzy Kendall with black hair for example)it might have been worthwhile.Unfortunately,director Joseph Losey was filled with self importance and much too embarassed to be making a movie based upon a comic strip--even the most popular European adventure strip in the world.So he ridiculed it instead.

    The one saving grace of this pop art extravaganza is that Peter O'Donnell's original screenplay(from which only one line was retained) and which was based upon the earlier continuity of the strip itself--became the basis for his first Modesty Blaise prose novel.

    It's all there:Modesty's origin,her recruitment(along with the deadly Willie Garvin)by Sir Gerald Tarrant as special agents of MI6.It's set in the Middle East and the insidious terrorist Gabriel appears as their antagonist.Technically the film is well made but all too often the movie plays like the outtakes of a private party attended by people the audience doesn't know or care about.It's generally overacted and if it were a person, this movie would be incredibly pleased with itself.About the only thing lacking is the cast winking into the camera in an exaggerated fashion--but that's probably there too.What a waste of time,talent and potential.I do like John Dankworth's theme song,however.

    As for My Name Is Modesty:I had very low expectations regarding this movie.It was made in order to keep an option from lapsing.It was made overseas and on a low budget and the actors were generally unknowns.Despite or maybe even because of this,the movie works.It's not a perfect cinematic version of Peter O'Donnell's creation but it's a lightyears ahead of it's more expensive predecessor.It's all in the writing and the approach as much as anything else and that's the movie's strength.Unlike Losey's bigger movie,My Name Is Modesty doesn't despise it's source material.

    Alexandra Staden is an interesting Modesty but I agree that she's much too slender--especially considering the revealing gown she's wearing.And additionally,her long black hair isn't worn in Modesty's recognizable chignon--that's wrong.Aside from that,Alexandra gives an intelligent and professional performance.She has the requisite blue eyes, high cheekbones and fair skin(According to O'Donnell Modesty is of Romanian heritage),so it's evident that some consideration went into her selection for the part.

    Yes,Angelina Jolie would be a terrific Modesty--and if Caroline Munro was only 25 again,she'd be perfect.So too would Valerie Leon,Dahlia Lavi,Sophie Marceau or Isabelle Adjani.Maybe Izabella Scorupco.Modesty's a great role for the right kind of actress.Someone who is talented, exotically beautiful and athletically built.Having recently seen Resident Evil:Apocalypse,I was quite impressed with Sienna Guillory in her star turn as Jill Valentine.The former Helen of Troy is not only great to look at but she can also handle a gun convincingly and kick a$$ with the best of them.She'd make a great Modesty Blaise.

    Anyway,the story in My Name Is Modesty is good--nothing too elaborate,just Modesty's origin told within the framework of a suspense tale set during her early years with The Network.A brief episode in her life.The villain of the piece is not entirely unlikable and I wonder if it's a coincidence that to some degree he physically resembles Modesty's future sidekick Willie Garvin.The movie looks more expensive than it cost and certain scenes closely resemble Jim Holdaway's drawings.Happily, the screenwriters respected the strip and the novels--otherwise,this would probably have been yet another failure.This film is proof that quality isn't always associated with large budgets and big names.

    The extras make this DVD very special indeed,especially the Peter O'Donnell interview and the illustrated history of the Modesty Blaise comic strip itself.And Lee and Janet Batchelor's commentary track is well worth listening to.The Modesty Blaise character has done just fine on the printed page and she doesn't need a feature film to somehow validate her existence--but it's nice to see that at least one movie treats her with a modicum of respect.
  • scaramanga1scaramanga1 The English RivieraPosts: 845Chief of Staff
    Once again I couldn't agree more WG - As everyone knows here -I love to dabble with a bit of creative writing - I am currently writing a tale that involves Modesty Blaise and her sidekick Willie Garvin - I just hope my interpretation of these characters give them the due respect they deserve -and whatsmore this tale is also a James Bond tale no less. (Yes I can hear those of you groaning!) It is an experimental tale -that I am really enjoying writing -and hope to share with those of you who are interested once I've completed it -providing those privilidged to proof read it think it is worthy of being added to the fan fiction library. :)
  • Willie GarvinWillie Garvin Posts: 1,412MI6 Agent
    Quoting scaramanga1:
    Once again I couldn't agree more WG - As everyone knows here -I love to dabble with a bit of creative writing - I am currently writing a tale that involves Modesty Blaise and her sidekick Willie Garvin - I just hope my interpretation of these characters give them the due respect they deserve -and whatsmore this tale is also a James Bond tale no less. (Yes I can hear those of you groaning!) It is an experimental tale -that I am really enjoying writing -and hope to share with those of you who are interested once I've completed it -providing those privilidged to proof read it think it is worthy of being added to the fan fiction library. :)

    I look forward to your story,and I suspect that it'll be very good indeed.And I told you earlier I'll be more than happy to proof it for you.;)
  • scaramanga1scaramanga1 The English RivieraPosts: 845Chief of Staff
    Quoting Willie Garvin:
    Quoting Willie Garvin:
    Quoting scaramanga1:
    Once again I couldn't agree more WG - As everyone knows here -I love to dabble with a bit of creative writing - I am currently writing a tale that involves Modesty Blaise and her sidekick Willie Garvin - I just hope my interpretation of these characters give them the due respect they deserve -and whatsmore this tale is also a James Bond tale no less. (Yes I can hear those of you groaning!) It is an experimental tale -that I am really enjoying writing -and hope to share with those of you who are interested once I've completed it -providing those privilidged to proof read it think it is worthy of being added to the fan fiction library. :)

    I look forward to your story,and I suspect that it'll be very good indeed.And I told you earlier I'll be more than happy to proof it for you.;)

    Cheers WG -when I've finished the first draft I'll email it to you. :)
  • scaramanga1scaramanga1 The English RivieraPosts: 845Chief of Staff
    Quoting Secret-agent 007:
    Quoting Secret-agent 007:
    Quoting scaramanga1:
    Just watched the 1966 version of Modesty Blaise starring Monica Vitti -it is indeed a bizarred mish mash of Hi camp comedy that doesn't do the source material justice. However for 60s Kitsch it is remarkably of its time with interesting sets great wardrobes and surreal moments -worth having for historical reasons -but no other.

    So the Modesty Blaise 60s movie is a spoof of the Bond films!? is it any good!? :)

    It's not a spoof of James Bond films as such -but more of a poor interpretation of Peter O'Donnell's comic strip character. It is a typically 60's hi camp comedy a la Casino Royale. Because of the Bond films -spy character became popular and releasing a Modesty Blaise film is testament too that -it was just a shame that it wasn't dealt with in the manner it deserved.
  • Willie GarvinWillie Garvin Posts: 1,412MI6 Agent
    edited February 2005
    Quoting Secret-agent 007:
    Oh..ok. :)


    You might enjoy the My Name Is Modesty movie.It's the origin of Modesty Blaise and a faithful adaptation of the character and her world.

    The 1966 movie isn't without interest but it was made at a time when the Batman tv series was very popular as well as the James Bond films.Rather than treat the Modesty Blaise characters with the same seriousness Eon gave 007, the filmmakers chose instead to treat their characters with contempt by play their movie for cheap laughs and broad(and often unfunny)comedy.

    Modesty Blaise is probably worth seeing but it isn't an especially accurate adaptation of the MB comic strip at all.In fact,it is to Modesty Blaise what the 1967 Casino Royale movie is to James Bond.And that's a shame because the 1966 Modesty Blaise movie--aside from Monica Vitti--has a fine cast and some interesting and colorful locales.

    If only it'd been played straighter and with a greater respect for it's source material,then Modesty Blaise might've been a good movie.A lot of potential was wasted simply because the filmmakers despised the MB comic strip...
  • Willie GarvinWillie Garvin Posts: 1,412MI6 Agent
    edited February 2005
    Quoting Secret-agent 007:
    Thanks Willie Garvin! The Flint films and Modesty Blaise were released about the same time weren't they!? Are they anything alike!? :)

    Not really,no.The Flint films satirise the Bond movies(a difficult thing to do since the Bonds have always featured an element of self satire within themselves),but they do so with style and grace.The stories are serious enough that they can be taken as adventure stories in the Bond tradition.Derek Flint-the hero of Our Man Flint and In Like Flint oneups 007.He's fantastically wealthy(like Bruce Wayne)and is a master scientist who invents all manner of gadgets.In fact,Flint's a genius with an IQ that's almost off the charts.He's also incredibly attractive to women and very courageous.And if you think James Bond's stopping his heart in Die Another Day was an original idea,look again--Flint did it first.And in Our Man Flint we even see Flint's friend Secret Agent 0008--played by a Sean Connery lookalike.
    These movies are fun and definitely worth a look.

    You might also like The Liquidator.This is another Bond-inspired satirical adventure film.The head of MI6 decides to create a special executioner in the 007 mold after seeing some movies featuring such a character.A man's recruited.He has every quality-handsome,charming,an expert with firearms.But...he's incapable of killing people.This is based on the novel of the same name by John Gardner(yes-the same writer who later produced a series of James Bond novels).

    As for Modesty Blaise.The whole tone and style of the comic strip and of the prose novels is much closer to The Avengers tv series(which it predates) than James Bond--but there is also a similar element in that she and 007 both work for British Intelligence.Bond because it's his job,Modesty because she chooses to.Why not try some of Peter O'Donnell's Modesty Blaise novels?They're as enjoyable as Fleming's Bond books.There's a list of titles in one of my posts on the previous page.Souvenir Books is republishing them and they're now in bookstores and libraries.And the Modesty Blaise comic strip reprints by Titan Books are available in bookstores and also online via Amazon.com.

    The 1966 movie isn't much like the original character and her supporting cast at all.I think she's a great character--if she wasn't, she wouldn't be in my avatar.
  • Willie GarvinWillie Garvin Posts: 1,412MI6 Agent
    Quoting Secret-agent 007:
    Thanks for your time Willie Garvin! :)

    You're quite welcome!;)
  • Willie GarvinWillie Garvin Posts: 1,412MI6 Agent
    edited February 2005
    Quoting Secret-agent 007:
    With us talking about the spy spoofs....what about Matt Helm in The Silencers!? :)

    These are lightweight fun.They don't take themsekves seriously and are among those films that are so bad they're almost good.The Matt Helms were a huge inluence on the Austin Powers movies--which also owe an enormous debt to the 1967 Casino Royale.

    The Silencers is probably the best of the four movies--it has a fairly coherent plot.But don't expect too much.Dean Martin cranked these out in between starring on his tv show.In fact they make the more sophisticated Get Smart tv series look like Citizen Kane or Shakespeare by comparison.

    Ironically, novelist Donald Hamilton's Matt Helm character is fascinating and deserves a more faithful interpretation than the one provided by Dean Martin.In the books Matt Helm is a big blond Swedish American and former spy who's called back into service with a branch of the CIA against his will.This eventually breaks up his marriage and he barely escapes with his life on some of his missions.Helm is a hardened Cold Warrior-- not a singer.
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 33,426Chief of Staff
    There was also a TV version of Matt Helm starring Tony Franciosa, but it bore little relation to either the films or Hamilton.
  • Willie GarvinWillie Garvin Posts: 1,412MI6 Agent
    edited February 2007
    Quoting Barbel:
    There was also a TV version of Matt Helm starring Tony Franciosa, but it bore little relation to either the films or Hamilton.



    Exactly right.In the Matt Helm tv series, Helm was a handsome and debonair private eye based in LA whose clients were all extremely wealthy.For what it was, the tv show was okay, but it's only resemblance to the Martin movies and Hamilton's character was the Matt Helm name.In the first episode, the seemingly ageless Tony Franciosa's Helm briefly acknowledges that he once was a spy--but is no longer.

    Incidentally,Derek Flint went the private eye route, too.Ray Danton played Derek Flint in Our Man Flint:Dead on Target.This pilot film didn't sell, but it still pops up on cable tv occasionally.And like the tv version of Matt Helm,this newer take on Flint traded on the character's name and general appearance alone(Tony Franciosa shared an Italian background with Dean Martin--and Ray Danton was tall and rangy like James Coburn).

    No elaborate gadgets for this newer Flint who, as interpreted by Danton, was a sophisticated yet tough PI in the classic mold.Like the tv Helm,the tv Flint was a rich detective with wealthy clients and friends in the police department.

    At the time the Helm series was on the air and the Flint pilot appeared,private eyes were among the most popular tv heroes.Mike Connors' Mannix was still going strong.And there was Buddy Ebsen's Barnaby Jones.Plus the long-running police drama Hawaii Five-0 with Jack Lord's Steve McGarrett fighting crooks and enemy spies, was still on the air.When Five-0 ended, Tom Selleck's Magnum,P.I. inherited that time slot.And there was Lee Horsley's Matt Houston and Stacy Keach's hard as nails Mike Hammer.Not to overlook Miami Vice.Cops and private eyes were everywhere.Or so it seemed.
  • Mark HazardMark Hazard West Midlands, UKPosts: 495MI6 Agent
    Quoting SPECTRENumber1:
    Is My Name is Modesty good?


    Ultimately you'll have to be the judge regarding it's quality.I think it is--but I'm just happy to see that one studio finally treated the Modesty Blaise character with some respect.I can't promise you'll like it.You don't have to familiar with the MB comic strip to enjoy it, either.Just don't expect a big movie along the lines of one of the more elaborate 007 films.Because if you do,you'll be greatly disappointed.Production values are small but used wisely,so it looks more expensive than it really was.This movie was made so that Miramax wouldn't lose it's option on the Modesty Blaise property and it was made rather quickly.It's not very long either--about 70 minutes or so.

    Who knows?After seeing this movie you might be interested enough to read some of the MB novels and the trade paperbacks reprinting the MB comic strip-which was always aimed at mature audiences,not kids.

    To reiterate:It's not Citizen Kane or Goldfinger, but My Name Is Modesty is pretty good for what it is.

    I know it's a little late in the day, but My Name is Modesty: A Modesty Blaise Adventure is on in about 1/2 hours time, at 12.55 on BBC2
  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 19,978MI6 Agent
    I have been a fan of Modesty Blaise for years, and I have read some novels and comic strips.
    I'm waiting for a good MB film that can do her justice. I a feel MB film should be a period film set in the 60's, the period feel is so much at the heart of the whole Modesty style.
    I have been dreaming of casting it (the alternative would be getting a life{[]

    Natasha Henstridge, Cathrine Zeta-Jones and Uma Thurman have been considered. I think all three could be Modesty, but Henstridge might not be a good enough ectress.
    I have some other suggestions for Modesty:
    -Anna Hathaway (good-looking and popular, but can she look hard enough and is she athletic enough?)
    -Jennifer Connely (Has the perfect look and she is one of the best actresses of her generation. Can she do action?)
    -Monica Bellucci (Looks amazing, but is her english good enough?)
    - Kate Beckinsale (has plenty of training doing action in black, figure-hugging outfit)

    As for Willie Garvin:

    - Viggo Mortensen (too old?)
    - Jason Statham (A tough brit, but is right for the other aspects of Willie)
    - Russel Crowe (huge star, but perhaps in a blockbuster next too Zeta-Jones or Uma thurman?)
    Heath Ledger (after some long, hard moths at the gym ....)
    Natan Fillion (This man SHOULD be a star. Teach him the accent, train him very hard and cast him next to Anna Hathaway and two new action stars are born ...)

    I don't know who my favourites are, particularely to play Modesty herself. I have just mentioned some names, som good and perhaps some less good.
    Comments? Who would you like to see in a fictional :D MB film?
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,715MI6 Agent
    The comic strip reappears in today's Evening Standard, apparently!
    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Willie GarvinWillie Garvin Posts: 1,412MI6 Agent
    edited February 2009
    Number24 wrote:
    I have been a fan of Modesty Blaise for years, and I have read some novels and comic strips.
    I'm waiting for a good MB film that can do her justice. I a feel MB film should be a period film set in the 60's, the period feel is so much at the heart of the whole Modesty style.
    I have been dreaming of casting it (the alternative would be getting a life{[]

    Natasha Henstridge, Cathrine Zeta-Jones and Uma Thurman have been considered. I think all three could be Modesty, but Henstridge might not be a good enough ectress.
    I have some other suggestions for Modesty:
    -Anna Hathaway (good-looking and popular, but can she look hard enough and is she athletic enough?)
    -Jennifer Connely (Has the perfect look and she is one of the best actresses of her generation. Can she do action?)
    -Monica Bellucci (Looks amazing, but is her english good enough?)
    - Kate Beckinsale (has plenty of training doing action in black, figure-hugging outfit)

    As for Willie Garvin:

    - Viggo Mortensen (too old?)
    - Jason Statham (A tough brit, but is right for the other aspects of Willie)
    - Russel Crowe (huge star, but perhaps in a blockbuster next too Zeta-Jones or Uma thurman?)
    Heath Ledger (after some long, hard moths at the gym ....)
    Natan Fillion (This man SHOULD be a star. Teach him the accent, train him very hard and cast him next to Anna Hathaway and two new action stars are born ...)

    I don't know who my favourites are, particularely to play Modesty herself. I have just mentioned some names, som good and perhaps some less good.
    Comments? Who would you like to see in a fictional :D MB film?


    Okay,I'll play.If I was making a Modesty Blaise motion picture today,these are the actors I'd cast:

    I.Emily Blunt as Modesty Blaise.

    Emily looks very much like Jim Holdaway's version of the character--both physically and facially.And like Modesty,Emily's in her late 20s.Overall,there's enough of a shared resemblance between Blaise and the actress that all Ms.Blunt would need to complete the look is long jet black hair worn up in Modesty's trademark chignon.Blunt already has exotic high cheekbones and piercing blue eyes--just like Modesty.And Blunt has a slim (yet shapely) athletic build and looks great both in and out of clothing(check Emily out in the Tom Hanks movie "Charlie Wilson's War" and you'll see what I mean),yet another quality she shares with the Modesty Blaise character.Additionally, Blunt's recognized as a talented actress who has played a variety of nationalities with success.In the comic strip (and also in the novels) Modesty occasionally passes herself off believably as American or French or Spanish or Australian or Italian or Eastern European.Seeing Blunt could do this while in character as Modesty would be a nice touch.

    II.Kevin McKidd as Willie Garvin

    McKidd closely resembles Holdaway's Garvin--complete to the powerful physique and blue eyes--all he needs is blond hair.He's also in his late 30s--which is Garvin's age in the strip.As he's demonstrated in the TV series ROME and Journeyman, and the motion picture The Last Legion,McKidd can handle dialogue and action convincingly.The Garvin character has plenty of personal charm, but he's also a stone cold killer(McKidd could suggest this quality with ease).Accordingly,Garvin's a great man to have as a friend and absolutely the worst man to have as an enemy.As with Blunt,McKidd has taken on a variety of believable accents during his career.I have no doubt that McKidd would be able to speak with an authentic sounding Cockney accent while in character as Garvin.

    III.Charles Dance as Sir Gerald Tarrant

    No question in my mind that Dance could carry off this role with elegance and authority.It wouldn't take very much to make him look like Modesty and Willie's friend, and their unoffical link to British Intelligence--the "M" figure in Peter O'Donnell's universe.


    I've intentionally avoiding casting actors and actresses as Modesty or Willie who are already so well-known to the public that they would automatically dominate a Modesty Blaise film if they were to play these characters.For example,as much as I once thought Catherine Zeta-Jones and Natasha Hentridge or Uma Thurman might've been good casting as Modesty,I've come to realize that even with their best efforts, they'd actually overshadow the character itself and reshape it to suit their own distinctive personas.And that's wrong.After all,they don't really resemble Modesty.And I feel the same way about Russell Crowe or Hugh Jackman or Jason Statham as Willie Garvin.The characters O'Donnell and Holdaway created have specific images--so there's no excuse in casting actors who don't resemble them.

    At any rate,these are all talented people,and I like them as performers, but I'd much rather see actors who are not yet stars play Modesty and Willie--and thus "become" the characters they are playing--much the way the (once)relatively unknown Sean Connery "became" James Bond.Let the characters be the stars and let the bigger names(carefully chosen) play the supporting roles--including the villains.

    As for the film's era?Yes,Modesty and Willie were created in the 1960s,but they aren't period characters anymore than that famous 1950s Cold warrior James Bond is,and look at how well he's adjusted to changing times.It might be good to remember that the last of Modesty and Willie's adventures took place in 2000.As a result,I think that Modesty and Willie could easily be brought up to date--the strip was always contemporary--it would all depend on the story.However,that said,I'd really prefer to see Modesty and Willie's cinematic adventures take place in the 1960s,at the height of the strip's popularity; during one of the most colorful periods in 20th Century Britain.

    A Modesty Blaise movie should be an adventure film with plenty of action,and suspense-occasionally leavened by some dry humor.An intelligent and glamorous motion picture.It should NOT be a pointless and ultimately insulting exercise in camp sensibilities merely because it's characters originated in a comic strip.A Modesty Blaise film should have a style and tone comparable to that of the first four 007 movies.

    I believe that Peter O'Donnell wrote some excellent MB prose novels, and all of them would lend themselves to motion pictures with ease.Of the group,I can easily recommend:I,Lucifer,A Taste For Death,The Impossible Virgin,The Silver Mistress and Night of Morningstar as fodder for movies.

    So,handled properly,with plenty of respect for the source material, and with intelligent writing--plus actors cast as Modesty and Willie who actually resemble the characters they're playing--there's every chance for a series of successful and exciting motion pictures.All that's needed is a shrewd producer,talented screenwriter and skilled director who understand the qualities that make Modesty Blaise and her supporting characters(and their world) so unique, intriguing and entertaining.
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 33,426Chief of Staff
    Boy, Willie, there's nothing like Modesty to get you going! Dance as Tarrant, I'll buy that. Who for John Dall (? spelling- it's been well over twenty years) though?

    I stopped reading about the time of Dragon's Claw, but may pick them up again at some point.
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