13 January 2003 | vjetorix
Give this atmospheric spy flick a chance
Despite the bad rap this OSS 117 adventure has taken over the years, a recent reevaluation suggests that kinder words be spoken about it. The U.S. re-titling, Shadow of Evil, turns out to be quite appropriate for a low-key adventure that relies more on atmosphere than action. This is not to say that the film is a resounding success but neither is it one of the genre entries that should be passed by entirely.
Director Andre Hunebelle, credited on this print as Cyril Grize, made four OSS 117 movies in the sixties of which this is the second. One might argue that Hunebelle's familiarity with the character of Hubert Bonnisseur de la Bath aka OSS 117, lead to his experimenting with different approaches in filming his adventures.
Hunebelle takes a noir approach, at least visually, to large sections of the film. Much of the action takes place at night with plenty of shadows in which our characters can hover about. Contrary to what the film's detractors say, this is a good looking film even if experienced as a bad VHS dupe. The score by Michel Magne, credited here as Garry Sherman, uses eastern influences to good effect in creating soundscapes rather than themes, an unusual approach for the genre.
Shadow of Evil is not a failure but neither will it land at the top of most people's list. Make up your own mind.