A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, French Agent OSS 117, looks like a parody of James Bond, British Agent 007, but it may be the other way around. Pretty much unknown over here, he first appeared in print in 1949. I haven't read a single OSS 117 novel (there are 283!), but it appears that Ian Fleming may have found some inspiration from Jean Bruce, the creator of 117.
The OSS man first appeared in a film in 1957, and was once played by John Gavin, of all people, in 1968. The character was revived in “OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies” (2006), but while the original stories were played straight, “Cairo” and now “OSS 117: Lost in Rio” are parodies — of the James Bond movies, appropriately enough.
The star is Jean Dujardin, who in some shots looks like Sean Connery, and who has the same gift of understatement and drollery. He's also surrounded by babes, in particular, a sexy Mossad agent named Dolores Kuleshov (Louise Monot). The movie is set in 1967; 117 is sent to Brazil to retrieve a secret list of French collaborators with the Nazis. This leads to an action climax atop the right arm of the immense statue of Christ that towers above Rio de Janeiro. Hitchcock set “Notorious” in Rio, but didn't quite have the nerve to use that location.
Imagine that the film looks exactly like a slightly faded thriller from the '60s. The makers have gone to a great deal of trouble to get not only the costumes, the sets, the props and the cars right, but even the film stock; some audience members may wonder if they wandered into a revival house. The stunts are as stagy as 007, the villains as absurd, and 117 as unflappable.