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DVDReview of Tarentino Presents MY NAME IS MODESTY

As all of you know, director Quintin Tarentino is a rabid Modesty Blaise fan (not of the 1966 film, but of the original graphic novels written by it’s creator, Peter O’Donnell) since he had John Travolta carry a Modesty Blaise book in PULP FICTION(1994) and Mr. Tarentino has always stated that he would either like to direct or produce a Modesty Blaise film that would be a 100 times better than the 1966 film version starring Monica Vitti, Terence Stamp and Dirk Bogarde directed by Joseph Losey or the 1980 TV film starring Ann Turkel. Well, QUINTIN TARENTINO PRESENTS MY NAME IS MODESTY:A MODESTY BLAISE ADVENTURE(2003) is the closest thing Tarentino has done to keep his promise and the result is slightly better than the 1966 film or the 1980 TV film in which this 2003 film is more coherent, not campy or comicbookish and a bit faithful to O’Donnell’s portrayal of Modesty’s origins, but this film does have some major flaws that keep it from being enjoyable and a real improvement over the previous screen versions of Modesty.

Thi 2003 film stars Alexandra Staden as a very young Modesty and it was directed by Scott Spiegel who is an associate of both Tarentino and Sam Raimi, who prevoiusly directed FROM DUSK TILL DAWN II:TEXAS BLOOD MONEY(1998) and it was scripted by Lee & Janet Scott Batchler who also scripted BATMAN FOREVER(1995) and it has an all European cast and crew( none of them familiar names!) and was totally shot in Budapest, Romania. The film is supposed to be a sort of prequal that covers Modesty’s origins before she teamed up with Willie Garvin and then becomes the international master thief/adventuress/superspy. But unfortunately the film presents this plot in a rather bland fashion despide the film’s short running time of 75 minutes and the way this film is scripted, it could have been about anygirl called Modesty, except the real Modesty Blaise!

For anyone that has read Ms. Blaise’s adventures, we all know that when Modesty was an orphan, that she was adopted by a rich Arab Shiek Abu Tahir who adopted her as a son no less and taught her the tricks of the trade and then she teams up with Willie Garvin. But in this film version, after Modesty is orphaned in a wartime flashback and tutored by a refugee professor who gives her the name of Modesty, then she is adopted by a Romanian casino owner and gangster who makes her the main bodyguard and madam/hostess of his casino. When a rival gangster tries to violently overtake the csasino to rob it’s safe and kills the casino owner, then Modesty belatedly gets into action in the third act in a not so convincing fashion and the film is practically over by then! The film obviously looks rushed with little production values and very little action or dialogue that we are accostumed in other Tarentino produced films. Mr. Tarentino’s only association or involvement with this film is in the opening title, “QUINTIN TARENTINO & MIRAMAX FILMS PRESENTS MY NAME IS MODESTY:A MODESTY BLAISE ADVENTURE”, which shows that both Tarentino & Harvey Weinstein had very little involvement or imput with this film. As for the acting, Ms. Staden who plays Modesty, is the typical beautiful Euro fashion model with cute poses and very little acting ability to carry off with conviction the lead role. A better choice in my opinion for the Modesty Blaise role in this film could have been either Kate Beckinsale, Rose McGowan, Selma Blair or even Angelina Jolie(who personally would have made a better Modesty than her portrayal of Lara Croft, Tomb Raider)

It is very obvious that Miramax Films was not proud of either this film or it’s DVD release, since Miramax has only released this film unceremoniously on DVD in France without any fanfare. This DVD is released by MIRAMAX INTERNATIONAL thru TFI VIDEO in a Region 2 PAL DVD release with no trailers but an interactive men with a DVD/ROM containing Modesty Blaise trivia and is English with French subtitles. If you are interested anyway in this DVD, then please go to AMAZON FRANCE or the French DVD website

Thanks for the review.

Here’s the cover:

and here’s the link where you can buy it:

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I just watched this. I have to say these cheesy flashbacks to a fake Balkan backdrop where they all speak English ruined it for me, but the rest was really well made, it all taking place in the casino etc. I just wish - it being straight to video - that they’d have gone more exploitative, with more violence, sex and so on, and the soundtrack was also rather horrible. But all in all you can watch it… it’s also quite short. The extras on the DVD are also really interesting, especially the QT/Spiegel interview