Movie Review: Banco A Bangkok Pour OSS 117 aka OSS 117 - Panic In Bangkok aka Shadow Of Evil (1964)
The second OSS 117 movie, Panic in Bangkok, follows the formula established by the first one (and borrowed from Bond) pretty closely, and reunites director Andre Hunebelle with star Kerwin Mathews. Into that mix it adds vivid technicolor and even more far-flung locations. But... it’s just not as good. It’s not bad, either, but it simply doesn’t have enough action to sustain its overlong running time. Still, there’s plenty for Eurospy fans to enjoy in this glossy film with unusually high production values for the genre (a hallmark of the OSS 117 series).
OSS 117 se déchaîne, Panic in Bangkok begins with a CIA agent with a weird name ("Christopher Lemon" this time) being gunned down in an exotic location (Bangkok, natch) setting the scene for top agent OSS 117 to jet off and find out what happened. This time the “what” has to do with pharmaceuticals, particularly a nasty batch that’s been flooding regions of India and leaving outbreaks of bubonic plague in its wake. Before leaving on his latest assignment, though, Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath (Mathews) takes time for some particularly show-offy target practice, shooting a smiley face onto his human-shaped target’s head, and buttons down its chest
In keeping with generic traditions, Hubert’s first meeting with Sinn consists of verbal sparring in the exchange of vaguely threatening nonsense like “the future is only illusion” and “the chicken inside the egg inside the chicken”–the latter phrase used on its own as a supposedly complete axiom! Unfortunately, these baffling barbs aren’t delivered across any sort of gaming table, so clearly OSS 117 hasn’t learned quite enough lessons from James Bond. Excusing himself from such impenetrable conversation (surely both participants realized such banter was a terrible waste of their valuable time and not advancing the plot), Hubert makes a beeline for the doctor’s alluring sister, pinpoints her as a brunette and immediately launches into his “girl of my dreams” schtick. He’s right that actress Pier Angeli does have appealing eyes, but she’s awfully skin-and-bones for a top-tier spy babe. Personally, I prefer my Eurospy vixens a bit more on the voluptuous side.
Hubert remains unfazed, explaining, “You’re speaking to a mere materialist, Doctor.”
To which the doctor gives one of those hokum lines that could turn up in any movie with white guys playing other races: “In the mysterious East, everything’s possible.” I really can’t overstate how non-Indian this guy looks. He and his sister are definitely the Frenchest Indians ever. But he does do an accent (or whoever dubs him in English does, anyway), and when you hear it, it becomes instantly clear why OSS 117's alias this time out is “Hubert Barton.” Whenever Dr. Sinn says, “Mr. Barton,” it sounds a lot like, “Mr. Bond.”