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Strong Start, Weak Ending
In case you don't know, I'd like to make it clear that this is a true story.
The first flashback actually happened. When the creator of Modesty Blaise, Peter O'Donnell, was a serving soldier he gave food to a feral child who carried a stick with a nail through it as a weapon.
He hoped (as do I) that she grew up to some kind of happy life. It seems unlikely, though.
The remaining flashback sequences are a fleshing-out of O'Donnell's own back-story for the character, and ring true to the original.
My argument with the rest of the film, the sequences with Modesty Blaise in the casino, is that they're not up to the standard of plotting of the books and cartoon strips. To give one instance, Modesty Blaise has a gun held to her head and dragged behind a curtain. As anyone who knows the stories is aware, a villain who holds a gun within arm's reach of either Modesty Blaise or Willie Garvin is in for a serious kicking.
This film is an encouraging step in the right direction, but I still worry that the next film in the series, if there is one, will be poorly plotted.
Modesty Blaise (1966)
Why Modesty Blaise fans hate this movie
OK, we know it's a spoof, and some of us have a sense of humour.
Our biggest problem with this movie is that it destroyed the franchise. If the first James Bond film had been the David Niven version of Casino Royale, there would never have been a second film in the series.
Peter O'Donnell, who created the character and wrote the first screenplay, said thinking about the film made his nose bleed, but that's not what makes fans really angry.
What we hate about the movie, above all, is that it bombed at the box office. Peter O'Donnell is arguably a better writer than Ian Fleming (he certainly produced a much bigger body of work, and his writing is more consistent than Fleming's). If the first Modesty Blaise film had been done straight, and reasonably competently, then there's a very good chance that a whole series would have been made. O'Donnell would have received the fame and money he deserved, and perhaps other directors could have produced spoofs and made money (after all, some of the Roger Moore Bond films come across as something close to spoofs).
I saw an interview with someone involved in making the first Superman movie, who said that the big problem was persuading scriptwriters to do the story straight. Pity that Losey wasn't that smart.
Think about it: can you think of a screen adaptation of any book, play or cartoon strip made in any country and any language that STARTED OFF with a spoof, and was turned into a series?
Maybe Quentin Tarantino will produce a decent re-make. Maybe. "My Name is Modesty" and the sloppy plotting of "Kill Bill" suggests that he won't.
So, if you find yourself enjoying the frivolity and the psychedelic visual excesses of this film, remember that you're looking at a movie that killed its heroine.