OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies DVD
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Directed by Michel Hazanavicius
Produced in 2006
Main Language - French with English subtitles
Milo Wakelin finds this French blockbuster to be very likeable, very funny and very, well, French.
As the Middle East descends into chaos, only one nation is equipped to step into a minefield of cultural and religious sensitivities. With a history of treating other countries with respect, humility and tact, who better to bring peace to the region than ... the French?
Based on Jean Bruce’s prolific series of spy novels, this hilarious Gallic spy spoof was a huge box office hit at home. With its fearlessly un-PC (but entirely good-natured) take on the politics of the Middle East and a spot-on nailing of the spy genre, Cairo: Nest of Spies a likeable, laugh-out loud comedy that’s a classy cut above recent American efforts such as Get Smart and Austin Powers.
Set in 1955, secret agent Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath swaggers into Nasser’s swinging Cairo with a wolfish grin, a sharp suit, and an unmistakeably Gallic colonial insouciance. He’s on the trail of the killers of his comrade and close friend Jack Jefferson, murdered while investigating a missing ship. After taking over Jefferson’s cover as the boss of a poultry factory, de La Bath runs into an Egyptian Princess and a sultry secret agent as well as a group of Islamic radicals, Russians, and a clique of neo-Nazis.
Everything from the snappy title sequence to the score, costumes, cinematography, stunts and sets evokes the film-making of the period. Comic actor Jean Dujardin takes the lead role, and his unexpectedly dashing physical presence brings a lupine sex appeal to a character who could have been played solely for laughs.
And it’s de La Bath’s good-natured energy combined with his oblivious stupidity that gives the film its timely message. Despite assaulting a muezzin for interrupting his sleep with the call to prayer (and his belief that the Suez Canal was constructed by the Pharaohs), he eventually wins over his Egyptian counterpart with charm, persistence, and his unshakable belief that: “Westerners are welcome everywhere, if we show goodwill”.
Milo Wakelin on 30th January 2009
Author of 105 reviews
Hilarious French spy film parody, sending up the OSS 117 series of spy films made in the 1950s and 1960s, which were in turn based on a series of novels by Jean Bruce. The film follows the exploits of French secret agent OSS 117 in 1950s Egypt. The mysterious disappearance of OSS agent Jack Jefferson coincides with that of a Russian cargo ship from the Port of Cairo. Agent OSS 117, who has a shared past with Jefferson, is sent in to investigate. He soon finds himself caught in an international web of intrigue - but still manages to time for a romantic dalliance with Egyptian princess Al Tarouk.
Length: 99 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 widescreen
Format: DVD Colour
Released: 23rd February 2009
Cat No: ICA018DVD
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