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11 Aug 2010

Guest Feature: Films that Deserve Remakes

Written by Ripley McCoy

Modesty Blaise

An obscure British movie based off an obscure British comic strip, this uber-60s flick follows the exploits of retired crime boss turned recruited BI agent Modesty Blaise (Monica Vitti, deliciously dry), on her assignment to stop a diamond theft, headed by the rather effeminate Gabriel (Dirk Bogard). Assisting her is long-time companion and master of disguise Willie Garvin (Terrence Stamp).

Where did it go wrong? Playing off the numerous James Bond spoofs of the time, director Joseph Losey gives the whole thing a campy, surrealistic tone that wouldn't be so bad, but for the absolute tedium it provides, absolutely boring for the greater part of the run. They add an ill-advised romance between Willie and Modesty, something the creator of the comic, Peter O' Donnell, condemned. But most of all, Losey seems to regard the original strip with some kind of casual contempt, condescending at the least. The plot is treated as a nuisance, and this would all be besides the point if any of the comedy was actually funny. Some dark gags work--Gabriel's wife ('wife'?) Mrs. Fothergill's muted torture of a mime being among them--but overall, they fall flat. A thoroughly unpleasant theme tune by Johnny Dankworth plays over the opening credits, after a bizarre cold opening involving an Asian manservant and a renegade...paper holder? Something like that. It's just not very good, see. The fantastic actors are wasted, anyway.

So what could we do to fix such a mess of a film? In these modern times, I'm not sure we could avoid the gratuitous exploitation of the otherwise awesome protaganist, or the transport to the CIA as a wronged operative or whatever. But, as I've heard mumblings about, Quentin Tarantino could easily and gladly take the wheel (Pulp Fiction shows he's at least familiar with the material), and there's a whole platter of actresses who might do the character justice. Not sure about the supporting characters, but dammit, why can't at least Terrence Howard stick with the Willie role, anyway? He's still spry, yeah? Play it more as a comedic thriller than a spoof, some affectionate shout-outs to the original, give Monica Vitti a cameo, this shit could happen.

Did you enjoy Ripley's feature? If so, check out his blog here.

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