Monday, April 11, 2011

International: OSS 117 Double Feature

Today's international recommendation is a pair of spy parodies from France featuring the well known character, Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, or OSS 117.  Parodies of 1960s spy films have been common long before the Austin Powers films, in fact the parodies began even before the end of the 1960s with Our Man Flint and The Silencers.  While most parodies take the James Bond films as their frame of reference, OSS 117 actually pre-dates Bond, both in the novels and films; Tu parles d'une ingénue (Ici OSS 117) was published in 1949 and OSS 117 Is Not Dead premiered in 1956.  At the bottom of this post I've embedded some trailers from the original films (the second trailer, for Panic in Bangkok, seems closer to what these new films are parodying).

While neither of these new OSS 117 parodies are covering particularly new ground, they are genuinely funny and they both feature a great comic lead performance by Jean Dujardin.  The first film also goes beyond just parodying the sexism of the spy genre by addressing post-colonial racism inherent in the genre as well.  

OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (Michel Hazanavicius, France, 2006, 99 minutes)
Netflix: This parody of the original "OSS 117" series of the mid-20th century follows OSS agent 117 (Jean Dujardin) as he is sent to investigate the disappearance of fellow agent Jack Jefferson (Philippe Lefebvre), along with a Russian cargo ship, from Cairo. While on his mission, OSS 117 becomes entangled in a web of international espionage involving French, Russian, Egyptian, Belgian and neo-Nazi representatives, while also juggling multiple romances. Netflix link.

OSS 117: Lost in Rio (Michel Hazanavicius, France, 2009, 100 minutes)
Netflix: When outrageously chauvinistic French secret agent OSS 117 (Jean Dujardin) journeys to Cold War-era Rio de Janeiro to recover a top-secret microfilm, gorgeous Israeli Nazi-hunter Dolorès Koulechov (Louise Monot) joins in the quest. But as the pair zero in on their quarry, the hapless Frenchman's disdain for Koulechov's gender and nationality threaten their mission. Michel Hazanavicius directs this delightful parody of James Bond-esque films. Netflix link.

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