‘The Puppet Master’ — Modesty Blaise

Mod­esty Blaise, once the head of an inter­na­tion­al crime syn­di­cate, had a pas­sion about con­fronting slavers and drug smug­glers, so it is to be expect­ed that one of the men she took down would come back for vengeance. How he would go about it, how­ev­er, would involve Mod­esty’s clos­est con­fi­dant, Willie Garvin, in a plot where she is brain­washed into killing him!

Cap­sule Descrip­tion: Dur­ing her career as the head of a top crime syn­di­cate, Mod­esty Blaise made a lot of ene­mies, espe­cial­ly with her hatred of drugs and slav­ery, so when she halts the oper­a­tions and careers of those engag­ing in those ille­gal prac­tices, it is only to be expect­ed that those peo­ple would want to take their revenge. Some mere­ly want­ed her dead, but at least one would go so far as to brain­wash her into killing her best friend and con­fi­dan­t Willie Garvin in order to have her live with the pro­found regret as a sub­sti­tute for her death.

Descrip­tion: Sev­er­al years ago, Mod­esty Blaise stopped the ille­gal slave trade of Mah­moud by kid­nap­ping him from his own boat and sell­ing him to be a slave him­self. Now, he’s back, and with his old orga­ni­za­tion, he kid­naps Mod­esty and with the help of the sin­is­ter Doc­tor Hans Baum she is sub­ject­ed to days of drugged uncon­scious­ness. Final­ly, when she is con­scious­ness, she has for­got­ten her past and the group com­bines to feed her false mem­o­ries and feel­ings that would encour­age her to shoot Willie on sight. Once that it past, though, her true mem­o­ries will resur­face and she would be haunt­ed by her actions for the rest of her life. A fit­ting pun­ish­ment, thinks Mahmoud.

Mod­esty’s abduc­tion was obscured by an acci­dent, mak­ing it appear as if she died there, but Willie does­n’t believe it and sets out to search for her, look­ing up old acquain­tances from their crim­i­nal days, with no luck. How­ev­er, dur­ing that search, he and M.I.6 agent and friend Maude Tiller spot one of Mah­moud’s peo­ple tail­ing them. While they think they are get­ting infor­ma­tion from her, she is set­ting them (espe­cial­ly Willie) up for the kill.

The set­ting is a ski resort: out of sea­son, it is iso­lat­ed and unoc­cu­pied, per­fect for the set­up. Willie finds Mod­esty as he was sup­posed to, and she turns and shoots him auto­mat­i­cal­ly. But as he sees her, she says the one name that is the key to their rela­tion­ship: “Princess”, and that alone is enough for Mod­esty’s fabled accu­ra­cy to be just enough off-tar­get to keep her from killing Willie, much to Doc­tor Baum’s dis­may and Mah­moud’s dis­plea­sure, as he stabs the Doc­tor for his fail­ure. And for Mah­moud and the rest of his gang. they are no match for the angry Mod­esty and Willie.

Com­men­tary: At least the brain­wash­ing here is fair­ly low-key and drawn out, mix­ing mis­di­rec­tion and implant­i­ng false mem­o­ries and feel­ings through amne­sia as opposed to the more stereo­typ­i­cal episodes. There­fore, its a more believ­able and more inter­est­ing way of manip­u­lat­ing her into her actions.

His­to­ry: “Mod­esty Blaise” was the cre­ation of British author Peter O’Don­nell, who wrote 13 nov­els and short sto­ry col­lec­tions about the char­ac­ter, and artist Jim Hold­away, although O’Don­nell col­lab­o­rat­ed with oth­er artists in pro­duc­ing a dai­ly com­ic strip around the char­ac­ter after the death of Hold­away. O’Don­nell also wrote a num­ber of his­tor­i­cal romances under the pen-name of Madeleine Brent.

Mod­esty Blaise was also appeared in two movies, a the­atri­cal release “Mod­esty Blaise” (1966) and a made-for-tele­vi­sion pilot “Mod­esty Blaise” (1982), nei­ther of which real­ly lived up to the promise of the orig­i­nal, plus a ‘pre­quel’ direct-to-DVD movie “My Name is Mod­esty” in 2003, about her life before she met Willie.




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