OSS 117 Terror in Tokyo (1966)

Original Title: Atout coeur à Tokyo pour O.S.S. 117
AKA: OSS From Tokyo With Love
Country: France / Italy
Director: Michel Boisrond
Starring: Frederick Stafford, Marina Vlady, Jitsuko Yoshimura, Jacques Legras, Valery Inkijinoff, Henri Serre
Music: Michel Magne
Based on the novel by Jean Bruce

I thought it was time to get back to presenting tales of slick secret agents, beautiful babes and nefarious villains with insidious plots for world domination. OSS 117 Terror in Tokyo delivers all that and more.

OSS 117 Terror in Tokyo is the fifth of the seven OSS 117 films (that is if you don’t count the two recent Jean Dujardin films, or otherwise it is nine OSS 117 films), and it is the second starring Frederick Stafford as Hubert Bonnisseur de la Bath.

The film starts with a cranked car chase. OSS 117 is in the back of a car that is being chased by two cars full of unknown assailants wielding machine guns. The vehicle that OSS 117 is in, after some slick manoeuvring, drives into a stone quarry where a helicopter is waiting for them. Conveniently, there are some barrels of fuel at the entrance to the quarry, beside the road. OSS shoots the barrels and the petrol floods out onto the road. Next he produces a cigarette lighter and sets the fuel alight. The pursuing vehicles drive into the wall of flame as Hubert makes his getaway.

Back at headquarters, it is explained that the opening scene was actually a failed rescue attempt where OSS 117 was to rescue a fellow agent named Clark, who was investigating a ‘new undetectable missile’. The makers of this missile are blackmailing the governments of the world for one hundred million dollars. To prove that they are genuine, the unnamed evil organization (let’s just call them ‘the Organization’) threatens to blow up a US base in the Far East.

After the destruction of one of a US base in the Far East, the Top-Brass are convinced that the threat is genuine, and assign Hubert to Tokyo to find out what he can. His contact is an operative named Ralston who has mysteriously gone missing. However, fearing the worst, Ralston passed on instructions that if anything were to happen to him, then the firm is to watch over and protect a girl at the US Embassy named Eva Wilson (Marina Vlady).

Within no time, Hubert is on the job and interrogating Eva. She explains that several months prior, she met an officer in a nightclub – then her memory of the evening is blank. She woke up in a strange room on the outskirts of Tokyo. Later a Japanese gentleman turned up with some photos of her and the officer in rather uncompromising positions. The gentleman promised not to send the photographs to her husband in Washington (it’s a long distance marriage) id she would divulge certain information – being the radio codes for US base 124 – which just so happens to be the US base that was destroyed by the Organization.

Knowing that Eva Wilson is the only link to the Organization, Hubert chooses to pose as her husband and hopes to flush them out. Which he does, resulting in some memorable set-pieces – one being a car chase on a winding mountain road, and another being a great fight scene in a Japanese Bath house.

I found this film to be an absolute riot and a joy to watch (I must have been in just the right mood), but it is far from perfect. The villains are ill defined and when they are revealed are not particularly menacing or imposing. But the action set pieces are very competently put together, and as the story progresses, the plot has just the right degree of outlandishness that I have come to expect from a Eurospy production. Fans of the James Bond series in particular will find a lot to enjoy. The film has a hint of Thunderball about it, which is not so very surprising considering Terence Young’s participation — he was one of the writers, who adapted Jean Bruce’s novel. But what I truly found fascinating — and I am not suggesting any plagiarism on anybody’s part here — is that this film features a few ideas that would be expanded upon in The Spy Who Loved Me made eleven years later. The film features a giant yacht that can swallow other ships and even has its own little dock inside. It’s not on the same scale as the Liparus in Spy, but the similarity is eerie. The co-incidence is taken a step further at the climax, when Hubert sits behind the control desk of The Organization’s missile console. As the missile flies through the air, Hubert re-routes the projectile so its target is now the The Organization’s headquarters on the yacht. By the way, this yacht is not just a little sailing ketch, this floating lair houses a scientific setup to rival Dr. No.

OSS 117 Terror in Tokyo is a terrific little film and Frederick Stafford makes a believable and charismatic hero. Stafford also played OSS 117 in the previous film in the series, Mission For a Killer, which is reportedly even better than this (I haven’t seen it). If that is the case, then it must really be a humdinger, because this film delighted me no end. Yeah, it is EuroSpy, and I know sometimes the pacing and style of EuroSpy films take a bit of getting used to. But Terror in Tokyo more than meets the audience half way. After the success of Jean Dujardin’s recent OSS 117 films, the sixties films were re-released on DVD in France, in beautiful widescreen prints, but unfortunately (as the dastardly French often do) they didn’t see fit to include an English dub or subtitles. That is a real pity because this series appears to be worth seeking out.

Below is the first few minutes of the film. Posted on YouTube by: Tallyortoby

THE OSS 117 films are:
OSS 117 is Not Dead (1956)
OSS117 Unchained (1963)
OSS 117 Shadow of Evil (1964)
OSS 117 Mission For a Killer (1965)
OSS 117 Terror in Tokyo (1966)
OSS 117 Double Agent (1968)
OSS 117 Takes a Vacation (1969)

The two recent parodies with Jean Dujardin are:
OSS 117 Cairo: Nest of Spies (2007)
OSS 117 Lost in Rio (2009)

5 Comments Posted in Film and Cinema
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  1. Congratulations for the new loow and site!!!

  2. You seem to have missed PANIC IN BANGKOK.

    Or is it under some other name?

  3. Looks like a fun movie!
    By the way, thanks for the cover pic of SEDUCE AND DESTROY. I used it for my review.

  4. Thanks guys. Panic in Bangkok, I have listed as Shadow of Evil – yeah, they all have multiple names.

  5. I have the recent French box set of these. While they do not have English subtitles, large portions of several of the movies are in English as in these films and the books, OSS 117 works for the CIA, not French Intelligence as he does in the Jean Dejardin films.

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