A favorite flick of mine played today on Turner Classic Movie channel. Modesty Blaise (1966), starring Monica Vitti, Terence Stamp, Dirk Bogarde, and Harry Andrews. The film, not highly rated by critics, was first viewed by me back in the late August of 1966, as a first run at the Midwest Theater in downtown Oklahoma City. It is in my movie collection (DVD).
This movie does not rock everybody’s boat. But as I was only thirteen at first viewing, it was a film that introduced me to an adult satiric theme that was filled with enough sex and violence (in a campy way and not overt) that was totally interesting for me as of my growing into a young adult. Sure, I did not get all the backhanded crap that was being presented under a very stylized and beautifully shot film by Joseph Losey.
I was a James Bond man, and the stuff that followed, such as Dean Martin’s Matt Helm movies were still a few years off. But it was was a perfect afternoon for a young guy, watching Monica Vitti strut her Italian stuff in exquisite clothing (some very reveling). This was a modern woman, based on the original material, that would be in vogue today. Wonder Woman never had anything on Modesty Blaise. It is hard to realize this fabulous lady, Monica Vitti, is now eighty-six years old.
There are many things I liked about this movie, including the musical score, the fine acting by all involved, and the look of what has been put on the screen.
This movie has held up through the years. Those that liked it still do, and most that did not, still don’t. But the whole Modesty Blaise franchise, from the characters developed by author Peter O’Donnell and illustrator Jim Holdaway in 1963 will always be developed in media. It is timely, either in film or in comic strip or book strength. A better female heroine might be found, but Modesty Blasie does not need to worry.
There are just too many of us world-wide that understand what is all about. And that cannot be explained. And for us, it does not need to be.
Growing up in the 1960’s (I was born in 1953), my formative years, I was given the opportunity to view many of the movies of the time. As early as age five I was taken to the “movies” in a local theater in Northwest Oklahoma City usually on a Wednesday night and a Saturday afternoon. The weekday movie was usually at the Penn Theater with my parents, where the 65c adult admission fit just great with them, and the 15c or 25c admission for the tag along kids was just peachy keen. One a typical Saturday afternoon I was treated with a double feature, or if lucky, a triple feature of child directed flicks at the Penn or the May, theaters just few miles from home. As I became a self mobile adolescence, I lived in walking distance of the Shepherd Mall Twin, the Villa, and the Plaza Theaters. With at least five venues to view films, I could be found at the theater most often.
My parents did not put restrictions on what I could or could not see as I grew up. was mostly good, but they did take me to a few movies that were just too much to handle as a young child as they did “fry” by brain a couple of times in their selections of film that they took me to view. I will never forgive them on that. I still cringle thinking about Bette Davis in “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane” even though I can sit through that one thinking why was that so mind blowing for an eight year old.
As I reached the age of understanding, I was attending most flicks that opened in town, no matter if they were of the “G” variety or the hard “R” rating. As of OKC, the “X” rated movies were hard to come by as of the censoring by the leadership in the community. The first major studio X rated flick I viewed was Ken Russell’s “The Devils (1971) as I was a fan of its star Oliver Reed. (A review on that movie is another story line).
I had been influenced by my upbringing that censorship in any form was negative, and nobody has the right to tell you what you could or could not do if it did not hurt anyone (but yourself). We, as functioning human beings, should have discretion, and the picking and choosing of what we view is our own business and how we look upon the world with regard to our belief system. As long as it does not hurt someone else. As a Christian, I have self censored myself, but that is choice, not the choice someone has made for me.
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