Octopussy (1983)

Ian Fleming’s Octopussy (1983)


Super-spy James Bond (Roger Moore, The Naked Face) is sent to investigate the murder of a fellow British agent. The clues lead Bond to a traveling circus, whose owner is a mysterious woman nicknamed “Octopussy” (Maude Adams, The Man with the Golden Gun). Bond finds out that one of Octopussy’s associates, Kamal Khan (Louis Jordan, Gigi), is preparing a fiendish plot to bait European nations into war.

Reaction & Thoughts:

“Mr. Bond is indeed of a very rare breed soon to be made extinct.”

After the uncharacteristically austere and realistic For Your Eyes Only, the franchise does a U-turn and decides to make things as much fun as possible. Octopussy is much closer to The Spy Who Loved Me than to For Your Eyes Only, and that’s not a bad thing.

 I’m not sure if this was intentional or not, but Octopussy has a comic-book vibe to it. Director John Glen (Moonraker) keeps things moving at a fast pace. It’s one of the longest films in the series, and yet this super-production never drags.

Octopussy is cartoonish in places. The climax — the all-female squadron of fighters is a hoot — is something that needs to be seen to be believed. It’s goofy, even campy, and lots of fun! The movie also contains one of my all-time favorite moments in the franchise: Bond, dressed up as a circus clown, tries to defuse a nuclear bomb. It’s a truly unforgettable sequence, filled with high suspense and daffy humor.

Actor Roger Moore is beginning to show his age, though. Moore wasn’t oblivious to the fact that he was getting too old for the role of Bond. He did announce his retirement right after the release of the film. He was, of course, lured back for one last adventure, but I think this would have been the perfect swan song for him.

The international supporting cast is quite good for the most part. I do have to say that’s kind of ridiculous to accept the very French Louis Jourdan as an Arab, but he seems to be having fun. Beautiful Swedish actress Maude Adams, who had a key role in the 1974 Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun, is quite suave in the title role. Another Swedish actress, Kristina Wayborn (The Silent Lovers), is commanding as henchwoman Magda. I also liked tennis champion Vijay Amritraj as Bond’s contact in India.

Anyhow, the regulars are back: Desmond Llewelyn as Q, Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny and Walter Gotell as Gogol, the Soviet leader. I particularly liked how Llewelyn’s Q becomes essential to Bond’s mission in India.

Composer John Barry (Born Free) is back too (he skipped For Your Eyes Only). The soundtrack is good but unmemorable. The song “All-Time High” is average at best. The ballad was written by Tim Rice (Aladdin and The Lion King), with music by Barry, and sung by Rita Coolidge. Although it remains one of the least admired Bond tunes, Rice stated that the song has made him tons of money. As always, I recommend people to read Film Music Central for an in-depth analysis of the song/music.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Even though Octopussy is not perfect by any means, I liked its bubblegum atmosphere. I don’t see today’s jaded young viewers embracing a movie that is unapologetically silly, though. That’s their loss — Octopussy is an amusing action movie, a really fun movie to watch on a lazy afternoon. Color, 131 minutes, Rated PG.

James Bond will return
A View to a Kill (1985)


4 responses to “Octopussy (1983)

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