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An Absence of Modesty: The Male/Female Dichotomy in Modesty Blaise.

Crossley, L., 2018. An Absence of Modesty: The Male/Female Dichotomy in Modesty Blaise. Journal of British Cinema and Television, 15 (3), 357-374.

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DOI: 10.3366/jbctv.2018.0427


This article examines the figure of Modesty Blaise as an action heroine in the canon of British espionage texts. It argues that the character and her stories offer multiple, liminal spaces for investigating and challenging ideas about gender, nation and class. It also addresses the current landscape of action-adventure films at a time when there are increased calls for more female-centric vehicles and gender-blind casting. While the gender politics of the Modesty Blaise franchise make for fascinating analysis, they are also played out against a backdrop of global politics. This can be seen in the first of the novels – simply entitled Modesty Blaise from 1965 – and to some extent in Joseph Losey’s loose adaptation of the text in 1966. Modesty’s employment by the British secret service coincides with the dismantling of the British Empire. The negotiation of gender identity that is a recurring theme in the stories intersects with the post-imperial, post-colonial concerns that dominated geo-politics at the time the original texts were released.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Spy; Espionage; James Bond; Modesty Blaise; Cold War; Cambridge Spies; The Game; John le Carré; Len Deighton; Film Cycle; Spooks; Ian Fleming
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:30314
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:05 Feb 2018 16:01
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:09


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