Thursday, February 8, 2018

Jean Dujardin and Michel Hazanavicius to Return for a Third 'OSS 117' Film

It has been almost a decade since we've seen OSS 117 on the screen, and have been craving for another installment in the series by the very same crew for years. A parody of the spy mania template constructing the culture and craze of the 1960s, popularized by Eon Productions' James Bond film franchise starring Sean Connery, placing a new spin on the character originally created by Jean Bruce and conceived his presence in a series of novels, OSS 117 - otherwise known as Hubert Bonnisseur de la Bath - was revived by film director Michel Hazanavicius and immortalized furthermore by the supreme talent of actor Jean Dujardin who portrayed the character like never before: A comedic hero.

Jean Dujardin on the set of OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies
Recently, while on a French talk show, Quotidien avec Yann Barthès, Jean Dujardin revealed that there will be a third installment in the OSS 117 film series that previously spawned OSS 117: Cario, Nest of Spies (2006), and OSS 117: Lost in Rio (2009), both written by Éric Altmayer and Nicolas Altmeyer, and directed by Michel Hazanavicius. However, he didn't reveal what to expect from the film but we are to assume it will be set in the 1970s since the previous two had covered the popularity of the prior two decades (the first being set in 1955 and the other in 1967). A rather exciting announcement for the fans of the first two films and long awaited news we've been trying to hear from the key people of the production.
The first film, Nest of Spies, has Hubert Bonnisseur de la Bath sent to Cairo to investigate the death of a fellow agent, stumbling upon a conspiracy plot along the way to overthrow the Egyptian government and stop it, by all means, thus saving the French interests from danger as well as preventing a chaotic outcome that would harm the relationships between countries, including the Soviet Union.

The second film, Lost in Rio, sends OSS 117 to Rio, Brazil, to recover a microfilm featuring a list of French Nazi sympathizers and collaborators in exchange of a large sum of blackmail money. But, things are not as may seem when Hubert discovers it was not the money his opponents needed but himself, being the key to a mystery that would shatter the image of a victory initiated at the end of World War II.

We'll see what the third film will be about. But, previously, word has been around that it will take place in Africa and have Hubert adapting to the then-modern day culture of the 1970s. Can't wait to jump onto the first seat at the theatres once it comes out, if I'm truthful.

Of course, originally, OSS 117 as originally created by Jean Bruce was far from being a parody. It was an outright serious series of spy thrillers, featuring an American agent of French descent, Colonel Hubert Bonnisseur de la Bath working for the Office of Strategic Services, and later the Central Intelligence Agency (the former's succeeding organization). First debuting in film as a detective-like intelligence officer in 1956, OSS 117 Is Not Dead, Ivan Desny starred in the titular role. A film sadly is very rare and hard to find, nowadays.

Later efforts blended the character in to the EuroSpy genre, portraying the character in the manner of Sean Connery's James Bond template, spawning five films produced by Paul Cadéac, while all of them but one were directed by André Hunebelle, as well as the soundtracks for the most of them were composed by Michel Magne. OSS 117 was portrayed by Kerwin Matthews in OSS 117 is Unleashed (1963) and OSS 117: Panic in Bangkok (1964), Frederick Stafford (of Alfred Hitchcock's Topaz fame, whose role in that film was originally offered to but turned down by Sean Connery) in OSS 117: Mission for a Killer (1965) and OSS 117: Terror In Tokyo (1966), and lastly, John Gavin in OSS 117: Double Agent (1968). Several of the films feature Bond alumnus, including Luciana Paluzzi (also a Man from U.N.C.L.E. alumni), Curt Jurgens, and most importantly director Terence Young. Well, John Gavin himself was linked to the James Bond role and was set to appear in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) before he was replaced with Connery at the very last minute.

Should it be of anybody's interest, Terence Young - the director of three James Bond films - wrote the premise for OSS 117: Terror In Tokyo, which would later inspire both You Only Live Twice (1967) and The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). The film is a blend of the two in context, as well as being the first film not to be based on any novel penned by Jean Bruce.

Covers for a few of Jean Bruce's original OSS 117 novels

Afterwards, a parody film and a proposed TV pilot were made in the 1970s that were not well received, thus ending the run and popularity of OSS 117 until Michel Hazanavicius revived it, re-imagining the character as a full French secret agent working for the SDECE rather than OSS or the CIA, successfully putting the talented actor Jean Dujardin in the role. We're always hopeful to see more of it from the same production team.

Promotional still from OSS 117: Lost in Rio (2009)
Click here for the main source.

Thank you for reading! Feel free to discuss the topic below in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. Those spoofs caught the flavour of the 60's more effectively than Guy Ritchie's 'Man From U.N.C.L.E.'. I'm glad a third is planned.