Modesty Blaise (1966): a female Bond misfire?

17 JULY 2023

JBC rating: **

James Bond Connections (1):

  • Featuring actor Michael Chow (Spectre 4 in You Only Live Twice) as Modesty’s manservant Weng.

The 1966 spy movie Modesty Blaise, an adaptation of Peter O’Donnell’s popular British cartoon strip, was an attempt by 20th Century Fox to create a female-led rival to the EON James Bond franchise. O’Donnell’s Modesty was a former international criminal who, with her platonic partner in crime cockney Londoner Willie Garvin, finds occasional employment with British Intelligence, for whose M-like superior Sir Gerald Tarrant they perform special assignments. Given the 007-flavour of the comic strip, it was inevitable Peter O’Donnell’s creation would be filmed following the James Bond fuelled mid-1960s spy mania. Indeed, there is considerable overlap between both worlds, especially in Modesty’s conception. In his reference work Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2017), crime author and historian Mike Ripley explains how Modesty emerged in 1963 as a potential replacement to the popular Daily Express 007 strip after the latter was abruptly cancelled by newspaper owner Lord Beaverbrook, incensed by Ian Fleming’s decision to sell his new 007 short story ‘The Living Daylights’ to rival newspaper the Sunday Times. The Modesty Blaise strip eventually found publication in the then London Evening Standard and quickly grew in popularity.

Continue reading “Modesty Blaise (1966): a female Bond misfire?”