James Bond (Roger Moore, The Man Who Haunted Himself) is sent to investigate the murder of a fellow British agent who was holding a Faberge egg at the time of his death. 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:
After the uncharacteristically straight-faced For Your Eyes Only (1981), 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 (1977) than to For Your Eyes Only (1981) and that’s not a bad thing. That being said, it is not one of Moore’s strongest outings. I will place it above Live and Let Die (1973) and The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), but below Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), and For Your Eyes Only (1981).
Director John Glen keeps things moving at a fast pace. It’s one of the longest films in the series, yet time flies by. The movie has an Indiana Jones vibe to it! I’m not sure this was intentional or not, though. There is no attempt to make anything seem believable. The script (by George MacDonald Fraser, Richard Maibaum, Michael G. Wilson) is cartoonish in places. The climax, with an all-female squadron of fighters, is something that needs to be seen to be believed. It’s goofy, even campy, but I just loved it — I found it super-entertaining.
Octopussy contains one of my all-time favorite moments in the franchise. Bond, dressed up as a clown, tries to defuse a bomb. It’s a terrific moment, filled with high suspense and daffy humor.
This is really the movie where ageless Moore begins to show his age. He’s quite agile for his age — I would love to look this good! — but it is too obvious that the stunt people are half the actor’s age so suspension of disbelief is tougher to sustain this time around. Moore wasn’t oblivious to the fact that he was getting too old for the role. He did announce his retirement right after the release of the film. He, of course, was lured back for one last adventure, but I think this would have been the prefect swan song for him — it’s a very Mooresque entry.
It’s kinda ridiculous to accept the very French Jordan as an Arab — I guess Omar Sharif was not available — but he seems to be having fun. Adams is not one of my favorite Bond girls. In real life, Moore was good friends with Adams. He is on record saying that she is his favorite co-star. I, however, thought the title role should have gone to someone with more “oomph.” Faye Dunaway (Network), who turned down the role, would have been perfect! I believe Jane Fonda (Klute) was approached, but she wasn’t interested either. We had to wait for Die Another Day (2002) to see an Oscar-winning actress (Halle Berry, Monster’s Ball) play a Bond girl. Anyhow, the regulars are back: Desmond Llewelyn as Q, Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny, and Walter Gotell as Gogol.
Composer John Barry is back too (he had 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, 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. Finally, artist Maurice Binder delivers one of his best title sequences.
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. It’s such a fun film to watch on a lazy afternoon. Color, 131 minutes, Rated PG.
James Bond will return
A View to a Kill (1985)