50 Years of SIFF: OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies

OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies

France | 2006 | 99 min. | Michel Hazanavicius

November 10 - 20, 2023

50 Years of SIFF

See how it all began for Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath, aka agent OSS 117France’s answer to James Bond, Maxwell Smart, and Austin Powersas he goes undercover in Cairo to investigate the murder of a fellow agent. Starring Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, and Aure Atika. Presented on 35mm.

Egypt, 1955. French comic favorite Jean Dujardin stars as secret agent Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath, a.k.a. OSS 117James Bond crossed with Maxwell Smart, Austin Powers and a bit of The Naked Gun. After a fellow agent is killed, Hubert goes undercover as the head of a Cairo poultry firm while he investigates the murder, monitors the Suez Canal, checks up on the Brits and Soviets, burnishes France's reputation, quells a fundamentalist rebellion and brokers peace in the Middle East. "No problem," replies Hubert, whose suave self-importance is topped only by his phenomenal ignorance and dumb luck. He is met at the Cairo airport by fetching and brainy secretary Larmina El Akmar Betouche (Bérénice Bejo), and during a drive into town filmed entirely with old-fashioned rear projection, Hubert marvels at the amount of sand in Egypt and pooh-poohs Larmina's assertion that "millions of people" speak Arabic. If Hubert hasn't heard of somethinglike Islamhe dismisses it as a silly notion that'll never catch on. From its re-visiting of '60s-style hand-to-hand combat to the double cross-festooned finale, the screenplay pays off in the manner of all self-respecting thrillers in which the bad guys only appear to triumph. With sparkling production design, a jubilantly retro score and a genuine flair for using the film and TV vocabulary of the '60s to revisit colonial arrogance, OSS 117 is a consistent delight.

  • Original Language Title: OSS 117: Le Caire - Nid D'Espions
  • Director: Michel Hazanavicius
  • Principal Cast: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, Aure Atika, Philippe Lefebvre, Constantin Alexandrov, Said Amadis
  • Country: France
  • Year: 2006
  • Running Time: 99 min.
  • Producer: Eric Altmayer, Nicolas Altmayer
  • Screenplay: Jean-Francois Halin
  • Cinematographers: Guillaume Schiffman
  • Editors: Reynald Bertrand
  • Music: Ludovic Bource, Kamel Ech-Cheikh
  • Filmography: Final Cut (2022), Godard mon Amour (2017), The Search (2014), The Artist (2011), OSS 117: Lost in Rio (2009), OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (2006), Mes amis (1999)
  • Language: French
  • Format: 35mm
  • US Distributor: Music Box
  • International Sales: Gaumont