DVD Review: OSS 117: Terror in Tokyo aka Atout coeur à Tokyo pour OSS 117 (1966)
If any movie in the series gives OSS 117 se déchaîne a run for its money as the gold standard, it’s OSS 117: Terror in Tokyo. It’s almost on a Bondian plane of existence, in fact–even prefiguring many distinctive elements of the more famous series. This one doesn’t wait for the action to kick in. We’re thrust right into the middle of it, with OSS 117 (once again embodied by the very capable Frederick Stafford) in the midst of a car chase firing at his pursuers with a machine gun. He skids to a halt in a deserty area, shoots some holes in a convenient stack of oil drums, and then hurls his lit cigarette lighter at the barrels, creating a wall of fire between him and the chase cars. The first car slams on the brakes, but the second plows into it anyway, sending them both into the inferno. A helicopter touches down and OSS 117 jumps in. This might not pass muster as a James Bond pre-credits sequence (this was, after all, the same year 007 flew a jetpack), but it’s a slam-bang opening for a Eurospy movie, proving once again that the OSS 117 films are at the top of the heap in terms of budget and production values.
distinctive theme music–kick in as the helicopter flies away, and then we’re back in the familiar briefing room where a new boss (I don’t think it’s ever the same one for secret agent Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath, although his many-faced superior is always named Mr. Smith) explains that “a few months ago the State Department was contacted by a mysterious organization.” Apparently this organization (later conveniently referred to as “the Organization”) has created “a new missile which can be neither detected or destroyed.”
“Hmm,” grumbles a general. “And a very small idea from a secret agent.” The military man spits out those last two words, hinting at some interagency rivalry.
“I think it’s better to have a small idea of a situation,” retorts this secret agent, “than no idea at all.” Take that! All the general’s got in return is a disgruntled “hmph.”
Hubert’s theory is born out by a report from our man in Tokyo which mentions the possibility of miniature fighters. There’s no time for any flirting in Washington this time, as OSS 117 is packed off on the very next flight for Tokyo.
“You’re taking the role of husband very seriously,” she points out. “Is it considered indiscrete to ask how far you intend carrying the role?”
Kommissar X or even Panic in Bangkok) until Hubert ruins all this great atmosphere by blurting out exactly the kind of feeble-minded attempt at cross-cultural communication his modern-day Jean Dujardin counterpart might attempt. “Me bump head on ceiling. Me feeling very silly,” he says, trying to explain his confused condition and the nasty lump on his head. Oh well. Way to kill the mood, Hubert!
“Has anybody ever slapped your face?” she asks. To that, he tells her she better apologize by kissing him. Still she refuses, so he pulls what might be the biggest dick-move of any Eurospy hero (even Joe Walker never stooped this low!) and threatens to walk out on her, leaving her in peril.
“Well okay, in that case...” he intones, heading for the door.
“Where are you going?” asks the panicked Eva.
“Hotel Hilton. Number 122. If anyone tries to kill you, don’t hesitate to call me.”
“Hubert!” She runs after him. He smiles. NOW he’s got her where he wants her!
“Change your mind?” he asks, nonchalantly. Now, presumably because she’s frightened (and admits as much!), she finally gives in and kisses him. “Guess you’ll just have to trust me,” he says smarmily.
“Anything but that,” she mutters as she succumbs to his dubious charm. (The fact of the matter is, Frederick Stafford–like Kerwin Mathews before him–actually has a genuine charisma, and his character shouldn’t have to stoop to such methods!)
Panic in Bangkok did; instead the travelogue propels the narrative–much as it does in Ian Fleming’s Japan-set novel You Only Live Twice.
“Oh?” asks Hubert, innocently. “Such as?”
“We are inclined to think you are agent of CIA. We think you are OSS 117.”
“I’m too flattered to deny it.” Hubert certainly isn’t one to feign modesty! Kawashi suggests it would be much easier for both of them if they collaborated more directly. “Oh, absolutely,” agrees OSS 117, nursing a predictable ulterior motive. “I am always for close collaboration with charming geisha girls.”
Kawashi waves a tsk-tsking finger. “She is not a geisha! She is a sergeant!” I’d like to report that Hubert walks away chastised, but soon enough this beautiful sergeant is giving him a sensual massage. “Am I the first Japanese girl you’ve kissed?” she asks.
“No,” says Hubert, “but you’re the first sergeant.” Ho-ho! Honestly, it’s no wonder the makers of the new OSS 117 movies couldn’t help picking on old Hubert for his rampant casual chauvinism; he really is worse than James Bond.
a great DVD of a really great spy movie. Hopefully one day (perhaps if the new films ever truly catch on?) someone will release this in the US with an English language track and subtitles on the copious features.
Read my introduction to OSS 117 here.
Read my review of OSS 117 se déchaîne here.
Read my review of OSS 117: Banco à Bangkok here.
Read my review of Furia à Bahia pour OSS 117 here.
Read my review of OSS 117: Cairo Nest of Spies here.
Read my review of OSS 117: Lost in Rio here.