OSS 117, Cairo’s nest of spies on M6: the novels that inspired the film


As the third episode is about to hit theaters, it’s time to come back to the very first opus of the trilogy: “OSS 117: Cairo’s nest of spies”. But did you know that the OSS 117 saga was adapted from a series of cult novels?

OSS 117 : a cult saga

In 2006, the filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius offers actor Jean Dujardin a cult role. Indeed, the star of the series A boy a girl bECOMES the new face of Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath, also known by the code name of OSS 117. Also carried by Berenice Bejo, the wife of the filmmaker, OSS 177: Cairo nest pawns very quickly becomes an iconic film. Faced with a provocative humor out of the ordinary in the landscape of French cinema, the feature film instantly becomes cult. This first OSS 117 even accounts 5 nominations for the César (and obtains the statuette of the best decorations).

OSS 117: Cairo’s nest of spies © Gaumont

Faced with this success, Michel Hazanavicius returns behind the camera to stage OSS 117: Rio no longer responds. Once again, the feature film is very well received. This Wednesday August 4, OSS 117: Red alert in black Africa lands on the screens. While Jean Dujardin is back for a third time, Michel Hazanavicius, however, left his place as director to Nicolas Bedos.

Before the cinema, a series of novels

What we do not necessarily know is that the saga OSS 117 is adapted from a series of spy novels written by Jean Bruce, released between 1949 and 1963. Basically, he is a very serious secret agent, placing himself as one of the first in Europe. Indeed, Ian Fleming does not invent James bond than in 1953. Likewise, OSS 117: Cairo’s nest of spies marks the eighth appearance of Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath in the cinema.

OSS 117 goes wild
OSS 117 is unleashed © Compagnie Industrielle et Commerciale Cinématographique (CICC)

Indeed, before the two films of Michel Hazanavicius, the French secret agent has been adapted seven times on the big screen: OSS 117 is not dead (1956), OSS 117 goes wild (1963), Banco in Bangkok for OSS 117 (1964), Furia in Bahia for OSS 117 (1965), Heart trump card in Tokyo for OSS 117 (1966), No roses for OSS 117 (1968) and OSS 117 takes vacation (1970).

How to get around this old myth?

Of course, the new version of Michel Hazanavicius is very different from these previous appearances. The Altmayer brothers, producers of Cairo’s nest of spies decided to turn the myth of Agent OSS 117 into a comedy:

It all started with the discovery of some old “OSS 117” novels in our parents’ library. The covers with very colorful stylized designs; those old-fashioned action scenes and that fifties look sparked a lot of memories in me. To these images were added the films of the time. We had the idea of ​​transposing this universe into today’s cinema. These B series are over forty years old. And while they’re old-fashioned, they also have a charm and humor they didn’t have back then. It seemed to us that it would be enough to shift them slightly, to push towards the comedy to obtain something interesting. To this desire was added the nostalgia for Technicolor, the first James Bond, and the Hitchcock films.

A brilliant idea which has largely borne fruit. OSS 117: Red alert in black Africa, the third film in the saga initiated by Michel Hazanavicius in 2006, comes out this Wednesday August 4 in our cinemas, and here’s what we thought of the film!

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