Thursday, March 1, 2012

i SPY EUROSPY: OSS 117: se dechaine

OSS 117: se dechaine
Director: Andre Hunebelle
Year 1963
OSS 117: se dechaine is the first post Bond spy film of an outstanding series of French films showcasing the espionage filled adventures of agent Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath. Directed by Andre Hunebelle and filmed in crisp and atmospheric black and white, the movie is an absolute stunner, taking cues from the Bond formula that was introduced a year earlier and just rolling with it in style.
The story of se dechaine follows secret agent Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath AKA OSS 117, as he investigates the recent death of fellow agent Roos who had an unfortunate accident off the shores of Bonifacio, France while scuba diving. Smelling foul play, Hubert flies into the coastal town of Bonifacio, interrogating all who had interacted with his late friend just before his death. His investigations eventually take him to a remote location, where a new submarine detector has been developed on. This new device could tip the fragile peace between warring factions and cast the earth into another world war, so obviously OSS 117 has to put a monkey wrench in their plans. This classy effort is as fun as it sounds, provided by some beautiful photography and an interesting and engaging cast.

Kerwin Mathews you beautiful bastard, you’ve done it again. Having spent a great deal of his earlier career starring in swashbucklers and fantasy flicks, Mathews steps into the Eurospy light with this fantastic first real Bond-like entry in the OSS 117 series. Bringing all the charm and wit that made him a star in his earlier roles, Mathews really makes the character of Hubert de la Bath come to life. His athletic ability also didn’t hurt his chances on creating an engaging and adventurous disposition for agent OSS 117, providing some really energized fight scenes and immaculate set pieces. His performance on this film even garnered him a return in the next OSS 117 entry entitled Panic in Bangkok. Both of his efforts in this series are highly entertaining, making me wish that he would have continued on with the winning formula. Who knows what other wonders he could have brought the Eurospy genre.
Providing some extra appeal for the film is actress Nadia Sanders who plays the role of Brigitta, one of the surviving members of Roos’ scuba diving team. Her role in the film is rather essential and she provides a good deal of twists and turns that help move the movie along into some interesting avenues. Her beautiful looks and innocent demeanor provide a curious combination for Hubert to contend with and her troubled past is quite revealing when all the chips are laid out on the table at the end of the film. Nadia is a classy actress and her presence in se dechaine is a welcomed one.

While being somewhat of an early bloomer in the post Bond timeline, OSS 117: se dechaine seems to have latched onto the formula with an accomplished sense of ease. The globe trotting aspect that was first introduced in Connery’s Dr. No, is in full effect in this film providing some luxuriously breathtaking looks at Bonifacio, Toulon, and Nice. There’s also the inclusion of some various yet stunning women for Hubert to flirt with, bringing that much needed sex appeal to the forefront of the film. OSS 117 isn’t that much different from James Bond. Both men like their pick of multiple women and each one eventually succumbs to the advances of one special lady before the closing moments of the film. The formula of se dechaine is unmistakably Bond, but damn does it do it so well.
There is a slight diversion from the Bond-centric moments during the final portion of the film though. These incidences occur with the group behind the development of the sub detector and their overall involvement in the film. They are hardly present throughout the movie, sparing only passing glimpses into their plans and aspirations for doing what they’re doing. This is slammed even closer to home when we witness the demise of this organization by a suicidal decision to blow up their own laboratory rather then be caught. Hell, when this happens La Bath isn’t even in the same location, he’s off fighting a henchman on a speeding boat. It kind of brings an anticlimactic feel to the film, but luckily the film doesn’t fixate on the diabolical minds behind the sub detector that much in the first place, so in the end it isn’t much of a let down. Aside from that little oddity, se dechaine is a rather accomplished Bond clone that set the right example when it came to establishing the Eurospy genre.

OSS 117: se dechaine is an outstanding beginning for the series and it establishes the agent of Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath as a new breed of secret agent. Kerwin Mathews does such a great job as OSS 117 and his performance is fully engaging and highly entertaining. The rest of the cast does an equally astounding job, bringing the world of OSS 117 to life while adapting to the changing tone of espionage films to coexist with the dominant Bond movies of the time.
With its black and white photography, se dechaine is a stunner, bringing about a classier depiction of the Eurospy, but still utilizing the intriguing subject matter and whimsical tone that the genre is known for. This is one fun adventure filled mission and luckily this is only the beginning for what would eventually be a rather accomplished Eurospy series. OSS 117: se dechaine is……

Don't fart underwater. The bubbles give you away everytime.

La Bath...... Hubert Bonisseur de La... shit just call me OSS 117!

OSS 117 flies Air Fance. How fancy.

So are you up for a little hanky panky?

Where the shit am I?

You can't have any pudding if you don't finish your meat!

Well hello there sexy.

Kramer you diabolical fiend!

Well hello there ladies!

OSS 117 doing some extreme bird watching. What a card.

I see you over there you little pervert!

Hello police... I'd like to report an incident of extreme handsomeness.

You know you look like a complete moron.

Man do I hate scuba diving!

Playing cops and robbers is FUN.

Now everyone repeat after me. It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.!

When you get to Hell, tell them Hubert Bonisseur de La....
Shit just tell them OSS 117 sent ya.

Thanks everyone. Hope you enjoyed the movie. See you in the sequel.

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