Friday, June 3, 2011

i Spy Eurospy: OSS 117 Mission For A Killer

OSS 117 Mission For A Killer
Director: Andre Hunebelle
Year 1965

OSS 117 Mission For A Killer aka Furia A Bahia Pour OSS 117 is a breathtaking Eurospy film that relishes in the beautiful landscape that is Rio de Janeiro. Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, otherwise known as agent OSS 117, is sent to Brazil after a string of political assassinations begin to pile up that result in a fellow agent's murder. It seems that someone is using beautiful women as suicide bombers, with the help of a new narcotic that turns its victims into mindless and obedient slaves. Can the charismatic agent take down the organization behind the killings or will he just soak up the Brazilian atmosphere? Mission For A Killer satisfies both options and with style to spare.

OSS 117 loves himself some Rio.

I can't believe you just farted in this elevator!
He who smelt it dealt it.

For this OSS 117 outing, the part of the agent is played by Frederick Stafford, who surprisingly has his first go at the character and film role in general. Having never appeared in a motion picture prior to Mission For A Killer, you would think that you'd be witnessing a more timid and restrained performance by the first time actor, but this is not the case. Stafford hams it up and does it flawlessly with such a natural approach to the material you'd expect he was born to play this role. He's suave to the last and handles the comedic aspects of the character with expert professionalism and effortless charm.

You'll find yourself grinning from his unchecked confidence, as he thwarts the bad guys and gets the girls. Staffords impeccable efforts as the titular agent did not go unnoticed for he went on to star in the same role for OSS 117's next mission, Terror in Tokyo. Having done one hell of a job in both films, I wish he would have continued on in just one more outing as Hubert la Bath, but in the end I'm just glad I'm finally able to see his two efforts in all there vibrant glory. 

You know I hate it when you bite your nails.

This is my mean face.

The story is rather intriguing, with the inclusion of a hypnotic narcotic and an evil organization that dreams of world domination, but it's the location that really dazzles within the frame. Rio de Janeiro is the perfect place to set a spy film and if you look back through the history of the genre, the real standouts are the ones that place their agents in the lush surroundings of Brazil. Kiss the Girls and Watch Them Die, That Man From Rio, OSS 117 Lost in Rio, they all have a certain style that just melds so well with the Eurospy trademarks.

Andre Hunebelle does wonders with the locale by giving us some excellent establishing shots of the coastline and a plethora of aerial pans that just melt the eyeballs. The vertical nature of Rio's landscape also gives way to some amazingly composed shots that show 117 doing his spy thing among the picturesque wonders of Brazil's man made and natural skyline. I've always had a love for films set in Rio and the combination of France's most established spy series with the world's most awe-inspiring location is a match made in celluloid heaven.

Welcome to the jungle baby. Your ass is gonna get shot!

Does someone in the audience have a fire extinguisher?

There's also a bevy of beauties in Mission For A Killer, the most noteworthy being the beautiful French actress Mylene Demongeot. Most notable for her work on the French caper series Fantomas, Mylene does an amazing job as la Bath's main romantic interest, Anna-Maria Sulza. She doesn't play a real physical role here, engaging in more of the damsel in distress type character, but boy does she look good doing it. Her character is interwoven throughout the story, appearing here and there until she is thrust up on center stage after being the unwelcome recipient of a narcotic induced hypnotic trance. From then on, she's the go to gal for OSS 117, riding shotgun on his wild adventure to bring down the mastermind of this sorted plot. I enjoyed her efforts as Anna-Maria and look forward to the rest of her acting catalogue as I delve deeper into the French films of the 60's.

Of course Mylene is not alone as the only female counterpart steaming up the screen. There's a small and lesser role played by Perrette Pradier as a beautiful but deceptive seductress. When Mylene is not on the screen, Perrette shines, giving the audience a devilish grin as she tries again and again to bring down the super agent. Each attempt always ends the same, with 117 coming out the other side unscathed. There's even a rather comedic turn of events where Perrette's character tries to get the jump on la Bath as he's shaving. She sends in two goons to bum rush the agent, but cleverly 117 turns the tide and ties up the trio, leaving them to awkwardly lie on the bed as he goes out on a date. It's a great sequence that has a whimsical feel to it, proving just how clever la Bath really is while giving the beautiful Perrette Pradier some much needed screen time. Now I'm going to have to hunt down her role in That Man in Istanbul to see what else she can bring to the Eurospy table.

What do you mean there's no movie on this flight?

And the survey says!

One of the more standout qualities of this OSS 117 film, is its keen eye for action and spectacular fight scenes. I was taken aback by how detailed and synchronized some of the battles actually were. The fight moves were quite inventive and kinetic, never slowing and always moving at a quick pace into the next segment. Out of the majority of Eurospy that have come across my eyes, I'd have to say that Mission For A Killer is the most accomplished when it comes to the fight choreography. It also doesn't hurt that there are some very memorable henchmen and weaponry at hand in these conflicts. One notable moment occurs when a blonde haired thug threatens to burn the chiseled features of OSS 117 with a blow torch. The sequence is shot with vigor, bringing us right into the thick of battle. The flames dance across the screen and you can really feel a sense of danger in the proceedings in both the film's narrative and the actual filming of the production. It's those kind of moments that are very much prevalent throughout Mission For A Killer, resulting in one of the most heralded spy efforts to not occur in the Bond universe.

In the closing moments of the film, we are treated to another spectacular sequence of events as an airborne army unit parachutes into the lair of the diabolical Leandro, played by Raymond Pellegrin. The jungle fortress is expansive and delightfully constructed and to see an epic battle of army against army within its structure, well it's just a magnificent location for the finale. That's one thing you can always count on with Mission For A Killer and the entire OSS 117 series. They really know how to make a visually pleasing and highly energized spy film.

It's raining men! Hallelujah it's raining men!

A perfect location for the end of the movie.

OSS 117 Mission For A Killer is a real 8th wonder of the Eurospy world. With a visual budget that appears to give Bond a run for his money and a location as astounding as Rio de Janeiro, you really can't go wrong with this flick. I'd say that this Eurospy film has to be one of my favorites among the genre and Frederick Stafford's OSS 117 agent to be one of my all time top picks of entertaining and believable Eurospy super agents. If you're looking for a fun ride with one hell of a visual payback, then look no further then Mission For A Killer. It really has everything that you'd ever want in a Eurospy film. Check it out any way you can.

5 out of 5 guns      A Wonderful Eurospy Set In Brazil!


  1. I would love to see this film! I watched 'From Tokyo With Love' the other night, and was bowled over by it. I agree about Stafford. He was great as OSS 117.

  2. If you liked From Tokyo With Love, then you'll love the entire OSS 117 series. The other films in the series are OSS 117 Se Dechaine, Panic in Bangkok, and Murder for Sale. They all have that consistent quality to them and they are a blast to watch. I'd hunt them all down as soon as possible!

  3. I have yet to see this film, but I'm definitely excited. I've seen From Tokyo With Love and Murder For Sale so far, and I loved them both. Yes, I also have seen the parodies with Jean Dujardin, but they belong to another cannon. Overall, I still want the Americans to notice how great the series are and start producing American adaptations of the Eurospy franchise set in the 1960s with Jon Hamm as OSS 117.

  4. Awesome Michael! If you liked From Tokyo With Love and Murder For Sale, then you'll love Mission For A Killer. It's my favorite out of the bunch, but that might be because I'm a sucker for any Eurospy film set in Rio.

    That would be a dream come true if the Eurospy genre caught on in the US and I'd definitely watch a Jon Hamm starring OSS 117 60's period flick! Bring it on!