OSS 117: CAIRO, NEST OF SPIES. Gaumont, 2006. Music Box Films (US), 2008. Original title: OSS 117: Le Caire, nid d’espions. Subtitled. Jean Dujardin (Hubert Bonnisseur de la Bath, alias OSS 117), Bérénice Bejo (Larmina), Aure Atika (Princess Al Tarouk). Scenario by Jean-François Halin, based on the novel OSS 117 by Jean Bruce. Adaptation & dialogue by Jean-François Halin & Michel Hazanavicius. Music by Ludovic Bource & Kamle Ech Cheikh. Director: Michel Hazanavicius.


   Cairo, 1955. The Cold War is hot here. The British struggle to keep control of the Suez Canal. There is a rising Arab nation seeking freedom from the West. Toss in some Muslim terrorists, some Nazis, a missing Russian ship full of weapons, and a missing French spy OSS 238 and the Middle East is ready to explode. The French government turn to OSS 117 to make the Middle East safe.

    “No problem,” responds the smug spy.

   Billed as a spy spoof featuring the French James Bond, the hilarious parody undersells itself. Cairo, Nest of Spies is also a wonderful comedy satirizing the insensitivity of the West to other cultures such as the Muslims.

   Hubert tells his beautiful Egyptian assistant that he always learns the language of the native people in every country he visits. For his trip to Egypt he learned hieroglyphics and ignored Arabic. OSS 117 stops a Muezzin from conducting the Muslim Morning prayer because the noise was keeping him awake, and he is clueless to why anyone is upset by his actions.


   Never too serious, the film does take its always successful shots at Bond, as well as the 60’s Eurospy genre that includes the original OSS 117 films. Those who find Sean Connery’s 007 too perfect, from his repeated escapes from sure death to his expert attitude about everything, will enjoy OSS 117 ‘s version of those qualities.

   Jean Dujardin is the perfect mimic of Connery’s Bond. From a raise of an eyebrow to the way he stands before he is attacked, Dujardin looks the part of Bond. The only difference between the two is Dujardin’s version makes you laugh.

   Hubert is a clueless colonialist who gives pictures of French President Rene Coty for tips to native workers. He is in denial about his sexuality, while he can verbally seduce any woman, he prefers fighting with men over sex with women. He is not stupid. OSS 117 can learn any language, dance, or musical instrument almost immediately. He is just blind to any culture or belief outside his own male Western world.


   While filmed in 2006, Cairo, Nest of Spies has the visual look of a 1950s-60s spy film such as Dr. No and Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much. As you view this clip from, notice how the look and music mimics early Bond films and John Barry’s music.

   Those who want to learn more about OSS 117’s past, how he pre-dates Fleming’s Bond, his 265 novels, his other films and attempts at television, I recommend a visit to the Double O Section website.

   The OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies official website offers some more trailers to view as well as more information about the makings of the film.

   YouTube has trailers and samples of the other OSS 117 films. Most are in French except for this trailer for the American release of OSS 117 Is Not Dead (1957).