A Secret Agent Extraordinary: Modesty Blaise

One of my all time favorite movies is Modesty Blaise (1966), because it contains all elements I love in a movie: a fearless leading lady with an excellent profession, great outfits and a crazy storyline. Somehow these movies are always from the sixties, like Barbarella or the Avengers.

Modesty Blaise is a secret agent whose hair color, hair style, and mod clothing change at a snap of her fingers. Hired by the government to prevent a diamond heist, Modesty (played by Italian actress Monica Vitti) recruits her sidekick Willie Garvin (Terence Stamp) to help her battle crafty, colorful foes on the secluded island of a suave mastermind thief (Dirk Bogarde).

At the time the movie was a commercial disappointment, but today it’s still worth re-examining if only for the chance to see Vitti in her prime, being funny and tantalizing and modeling a succession of outre sixties-knockout outfits. It’s one of the very few “comic strip” movies of the Warhol era that actually deploys a Pop Art style with some edge and aesthetic sense, and that’s campy in a way that isn’t harmless, but has some bite. But I’ve also seen reviews of the movie that say it’s an “interesting mess”.

Oh, and the movie has a little bit extra because some scenes were shot in Amsterdam, like the dollhouse scene.  And one scene is named ” Haarlemstraat 74, Apt. C”. Someday I must find that appartment…..

Check out the mad, mod world of Modesty Blaise:

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