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Octopussy

Octopussy (1983)

Octopussy is a 1983 British spy film, the thirteenth in the James Bond series produced by Eon Productions, and the sixth to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond.

Octopussy has had many criticisms leveled at it since it slipped into cinema’s in 1983. One complaint is that there are simply too many villains – is the crazed Gen. Orlov the main villain or the suave Kamal Khan? Another objection postulates that its choice of India as a location sends Bond into a pure fantasy land with a depiction of tribal princes, mysterious islands populated entirely of impossibly beautiful women and bungling local thugs. Still more point to its inappropriate rather juvenile schoolboy humor, from Bond’s Tarzan yell to our heroes ogling over a young woman secretary’s bust as a reason why the movie fails.
These objections are perfectly legitimate, but one has to feel that the movies detractors were missing the point. Bond is a fantasy figure who in the past has battled armies inside bases hidden inside hollowed out volcano’s (in 1967’s YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE) and shot into space to save the world from poisoned orchids globes (in 1979’s MOONRAKER). Bond belongs in the fantasy realm and the over-the-top formula is perfectly suited and indeed complimented by the India depicted here.
In addition the villains are similarly over-the-top and the movie audience is treated to two wonderful performances. Who can forget the fantastic performance of Steven Berkoff as Orlov in the Kremlin meeting room – “Never, the West is decadent” Orlov states as he struts around one of Peter Lamont’s amazing sets.
The humor is also perfectly suited to the Roger Moore portrayal of Bond and in fact the adventures had become so fantastical at this point that it was necessary for Moore to not take events too seriously. The only truly embarrassing scene is the one in Q’s workshop where Bond focuses a camera in on a woman’s bust. But other scenes referred to pop culture of the 1900s, such as Bond doing his Barbara Wodehouse impersonation telling a tiger to “sit-t-t” and swinging through the vines like Johnny Weismuller in an old Tarzan picture. Neither is particularly intrusive and both elicited belly laughs from the audience I saw the movie with. Similarly the complaint that Bond ends up in a clown suit at the end should be taken in context, he is undercover at a circus, a clown outfit is in fact the perfect disguise.
The movie starts with one of the most famous action sequences of the 1980s. Captured trying to destroy a spy plane in Latin America 007 escapes by using the worlds smallest jet even flying it through a hanger as the doors close. In fact the jet, called an Acrostar, actually exists and had been originally planned for use in 1979’s MOONRAKER, it deserves its place in the Bond movie’s pantheon of gadgets alongside the mini helicopter Little Nellie from 1967. Rolling up to a gas station at the end of the sequence Bond delivers my favorite line in the movie, smiling to the undoubtedly amazed attendant and asking him to Fill her up please.”
Of course this scene has nothing to do with the movie as a whole but it’s a nice little mini-adventure to start things off with and set the tone for the rest of the movie. Following the erotic main titles, in which designer Maurice Binder makes full use of lasers and gorgeous women, we are plunged headlong into the main plot with two assassins chasing a British agent in full clown make-up (shades of what is to come later) as he attempts to get a fake Faberge egg to the British embassy.
Understandably a little miffed at the death of their agent and curious as to the reason why he was carrying a fake egg the British send Bond to observe the auction of the real egg at Sotheby’s. Here is one of my favorite scenes, there are no explosions, no meglomaniacal speeches from super villains and no incredible sets but merely Bond testing the determination of Khan in a standoff which reaches its final conclusion thousands of miles away over a game of backgammon. Here we see shades of Goldfinger cheating at golf in the 1964 movie except this time its loaded dice on the backgammon table.
Special mention must go to the very alluring Maud Adams who holds the distinction of being the only actress to play two leading roles in the EON Bond series (Ursula Andress played two, the first in DR. NO and the second in the non-Eon 1967 spoof CASINO ROYALE). Adams is a stunning Scandinavian beauty and plays the title role with a sense of both amusement and conviction. In fact in what is an interesting tip of the hat to the short story from which the movie gets its title, the plot of Bond tracking down a traitor serves as the backstory to Adam’s characters father.
The plot for what its worth involves jewelry smuggling and nuclear brinkmanship, but that’s really not what is important here, that merely serves as a canvas on which to stage fun set pieces and a generous selection of stunt action sequences.
What we have here is a fun action adventure movie, just don’t go in expecting anything serious. If you approach this movie with the right frame of mind you might find this entry in the James Bond canon to be one of the series most entertaining – for entertainment’s sake.

BACKGROUND

Octopussy is a 1983 British spy film, the thirteenth in the James Bond series produced by Eon Productions, and the sixth to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond.

The film’s title is taken from a short story in Ian Fleming’s 1966 short story collection Octopussy and The Living Daylights, although the film’s plot is original. It does, however, include a scene inspired by the Fleming short story “The Property of a Lady” (included in 1967 and later editions of Octopussy and The Living Daylights), while the events of the short story “Octopussy” form a part of the title character’s background and are recounted by her.

Bond is assigned the task of following a general who is stealing jewels and relics from the Soviet government. This leads him to a wealthy Afghan prince, Kamal Khan, and his associate, Octopussy, and the discovery of a plot to force disarmament in Western Europe with the use of a nuclear weapon.

Octopussy was produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, and was released in the same year as the non-Eon Bond film Never Say Never Again. The film was written by George MacDonald Fraser, Richard Maibaum, and Michael G. Wilson, and was directed by John Glen.

 CAST

Roger Mooreas James Bond
Maud Adamsas Octopussy
Louis Jourdanas Kamal Khan
Kristina Waybornas Magda
Kabir Bedias Gobinda
Steven Berkoffas General Orlov
Desmond Llewelynas Q
Robert Brownas M
Lois Maxwellas Miss Moneypenny
Michaela Clavellas Penelope Smallbone
Walter Gotellas General Gogol
Vijay Amritrajas Vijay
Douglas Wilmeras Jim Fanning

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WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

The Screen: James Bond meets Octopussy

Published: June 10, 1983

LET’S face it: the sensationally successful and long-lived James Bond films will not quit, and for good reason. They are ”Star Wars” fantasies for the middle-aged of all ages. ”Octopussy,” the 13th in the series that began with ”Dr. No” in 1961, is actually better than most.
The film, which opens today at the National and other theaters, makes no pretense of being based on anything except the Ian Fleming character and the high good humor and wit of the film makers. Agent 007 faces a succession of unspeakable dangers and obliging women with the absurdly overstated, indefatigable waggishness that has outlived all imitations. Roger Moore, who plays Bond yet again, is not getting any younger, but neither is the character. The two have grown gracefully indivisible.
Much of the story is incomprehensible, but I’m sure that the characters include a crazy Soviet general (Steven Berkoff), who is as feared by the Russians as by the Allies; a decadent Afghan prince (Louis Jourdan), who gambles with loaded dice and would not hesitate to blow up the world for personal profit, and the glamorous tycoon of the film’s title (Maud Adams), who lives in a lake palace in Udaipur, India, from which she runs an international business empire of hotels, airlines and an East German circus.
The point of any Bond adventure is its incredible gadgets – this film includes a virtually pocket-size jet plane – and the variations worked on the chases, sequences that, like great vaudeville gags, build from one surprise to the next to discover the unexpected topper. In ”Octopussy” the best of these are a hilarious, precredit sequence in which Bond flees Cuba, another in India where Bond finds himself in league with a tiger in the course of an unusual ”shoot” and one across East Germany involving an automobile, a circus train and an atomic bomb.
George MacDonald Fraser, Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson are responsible for the story and screenplay, which was directed by John Glen, who does much better than he did with ”For Your Eyes Only.” However, the material is markedly better, and the budget seems noticeably larger. Peter Lamont’s production design is both extravagant and funny.
”Octopussy,” which has been rated PG (”Parental Guidance Suggested”), includes a lot of low-voltage sexual hanky-panky and some scenes of mayhem that are more picturesque than realistically violent.
At the National 2, Broadway and 44th Street; Gemini 1 and 2, 64th Street and Second Avenue; 86th Street Twin 2, at Lexington Avenue; New Yorker 2, Broadway and 88th Street; Bay Cinema, Second Avenue and 31st Street and other theaters.

My Review

93%

Bond clowning around in Cold War thriller Bond belongs in the fantasy realm and the over-the-top formula is perfectly suited and indeed complimented by the India depicted here.

Script
89%
Acting
94%
Directing
93%
Bond girl Appeal
97%

About The Author

Darren

Born on the English-Scottish border I emigrated to the US after graduating college in 1995 and became a U.S. citizen in 2007. I have served in the U.S. military and my past positions include as an Assistant Managing Editor of The Washington Post Company, a technical writer working on technical documentation for both a construction company and a large government contractor, a graphic designer creating graphics in support of government contract proposals, and as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Navy. which included being assigned as the official writer for the Navy and DoD on the assumption ceremony of a new Secretary of the Navy. I am currently a Web Services Writer for a large government contractor in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

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