Tuesday, June 30, 2009

OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (Le Caire nid d’espions)

OSS 117 is a French secret agent, with the wonderfully absurd name of Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath, who is the central character of an astonishing number of French spy novels cranked out by Jean Bruce (91 books), his widow Josette (143 books) and two of her children (24 books). The family must have owned a magical sausage-making/novel-writing machine. The first book came out in 1949 and a series of films based on the books was made in the 50s and 60s. (Thank you Wikipedia.)

When a group of French filmmakers decided to reanimate Agent OSS 117 in 2006, they brought him back to make fun of him, and they succeeded. Although they don’t cop to it in the DVD extras, they had to have seen Don Adams in the “Get Smart” TV shows, since OSS 117 exhibits the same level of totally unjustified self regard as Maxwell Smart. The 2008 film version of “Get Smart” got rather mixed reviews from the critics, so if you’re hankering for idiot spies go directly to OSS 117.

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