A perfect parody of the sixties James Bond films and EuroSpy pictures, along with taking inspirations from the respective eras of each period piece, a character originally created in a serious series of thriller novels by Jean Bruce is revived as a comedic spy thirteen years ago by writer Jean-François Halin and director Michel Hazanavicius. Along with actor Jean Dujardin in the lead role, these men forever immortalized Bruce's fictional secret agent albeit with a twist, fully reinventing him as a Frenchman working for DGSE rather than an American OSS operative of French descent as conceived in the books. But, despite all the wait and anticipation of a third film, the project has been in development hell for quite a few years now.
But, before we delve away from the subject, can we also expect the return of Ken Samuels as CIA field officer Bill Tremendous? It would feel very empty without him!
|"Sacre Hubert! Toujours le mot pour rire!"|
The first film adaptation starring the character was released in 1956, played by Ivan Desny in OSS 117 is Not Dead, characterized as a detective-like intelligence officer on the trail of a conspiracy plot. Unfortunately, the film is very rare to find and copies hardly exist anywhere. The second production of an OSS 117 film launched a brief series produced by Paul Cadeac and most of them were directed by Andre Hunebelle. Just as when the James Bond film series started changing the concept of spy fiction on film, as well as the public view of a secret agent, OSS 117 is Unleashed was released in 1963, followed by OSS 117: Shadow of Evil a year later, both of which starred Kerwin Matthews as the titular character.
|Frederick Stafford with co-star Marina Vlady in a still|
from OSS 117: From Tokyo with Love
Changing leads with the next film, inexperienced but surprisingly talented Frederick Stafford took over the role of OSS 117, debuting a year later in OSS 117: Mission for a Killer, which was also set in Rio (the 2009 parody film even went as far to reuse some of the footage from its 1965 predecessor). At this point, when there were numerous Italian imitations of the Bond films, thus creating the subgenre EuroSpy, this series fell under that label, as well. Stafford received a lot of comparisons with Sean Connery and even looked the part of what could be "France's equivalent of James Bond".
The next film was the first not to be based on any of an existing material, but instead brought an original story on board penned by three-time Bond director Terence Young. A film which would later inspire both You Only Live Twice and The Spy who Loved Me. Stafford returned as the suave French secret agent in OSS 117: From Tokyo with Love, sharpening his skills as an actor, his performance was even better received than before. It is also the only film in this series not to be directed by Hunebelle.
|John Gavin with co-star Margaret Lee in|
a still from OSS 117: Double Agent
The Cadeac/Hunebelle series of OSS 117 films stopped producing further installments when the rights were sold to Pierre Kalfon, whose only production starring the character proved to be an unsuccessful film. Another effort to bring the character back to the screen, albeit for television, was made with the intention of starting a TV series which lasted only for a pilot episode. The rest is history as we know, when three decades later the franchise was reinvented as a clever spy comedy series of films, starting in 2006 with the successful OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies and followed by 2009's OSS 117: Lost in Rio. Now, after years of waiting, we'll finally be getting our well-deserved third film. Here's hoping time goes rather fast, because one can hardly wait for it.
|OSS 117 will return...|