Octopussy (1983) Director: John Glen
The thirteenth canonical Eon James Bond film, or the scandalously titled “Octopussy,” is also the sixth Bond film to star the silly and dapper Roger Moore. The film takes its title from Ian Fleming’s short story found in Octopussy and The Living Daylights -a short story collection published in 1967. The film’s plot borrows very little from the original short story.
Once again, John Glen direct’s the film (he worked on On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Moonraker; and then he directed For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View To Kill, The Living Daylights, and License To Kill).
There was a background controversy underlying the release of the film. Sean Connery had signed on to reprise his role as James Bond in the non-Eon film Never Say Never Again, much to Albert “Cubby” Broccoli’s chagrin. The two films locked horns in competition for revenue, and derailed Roger Moore’s plans to retire from playing James Bond (thus ending Josh Brolin’s chance to appear as Bond) and ultimately Eon’s Octopussy ($187.5M) beat out Warner Bros.’s Never Say Never Again ($160M). Nevertheless, Octopussy is another mostly forgettable Bond movie rife with campy jokes and a really ridiculous plot that takes Bond on an adventure chasing Faberge eggs dressed as a circus clown through locales like East Berlin and India.
The film opens with a slapstick-riddled action sequence with Bond undercover at a communist military establishment, perhaps in Cuba, but Bond escapes thanks to an attractive woman at his side. However, the central plot of the film is driven by the assassination of 009 while serving as an undercover clown escaping the Soviets while moving from East to West Berlin. He crashes through a window carrying a Faberge egg, a jeweled egg created by the Russian House of Faberge as a gift for the Russian Empire. However, the egg is proven to be a fake. Bond is sent by MI6 to an auction for the egg where he quickly identifies the purchaser, Kamal Khan, the former Afghan prince (played by French actor Louis Jourdan). Amidst an affair with Magda, a new Bond girl, James Bond is captured and brought to Khan’s palace where he discovers that Khan is working with Orlov, an expansionist Soviet general (played by British actor Steven Berkoff). Bond escapes and is led on an adventure through India where, in a particularly cheesy scene, Bond meets his contact, Vijay on the street who is playing the famous Bond theme while disguised as a snake-charmer. Vijay is played by Vijay Amritraj, the famous tennis player, and his scenes in the film are filled with amusing tennis jokes.
Bond tracks his way to a floating island palace occupied by an ‘Octopus cult’ led by a jewel smuggler named Octopussy (played by Maud Adams who also starred as a Bond Girl in The Man With The Golden Gun). He learns about the smuggling operation between Orlov and Khan via fraudulent circus troupe. Bond infiltrates the circus and uncovers a plot to detonate a nuclear warhead and spearhead a war between Europe and the United States. Bond trails the bomb to a train headed for West Germany, kills the assassins, including Orlov, and escapes dressed as a clown in yet another silly stunt. In the end, he persuades Octopussy to join him and disable the nuclear warhead and defeat Khan. They do so in a plane over India where Khan finds his ultimate demise.
Rita Coolidge performed the theme song for Octopussy, “All Time High.” It is a decent but melodramatic ’80s theme song for such a poor film.