James Bond rewatch: ‘Octopussy’

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001. The story

Investigating the murder of 009, Bond discovers that an Afghan prince and a rogue Soviet General plan to detonate a nuclear bomb on an American base in Germany, by smuggling it in with the circus. Unfortunately 007’s forgotten his Q-branch issued clown costume…


002. The villains

Steven Berkoff dials the crazy eyes up to 11 as unstable General Orlov, who wants to instigate the Soviet invasion of Western Europe. Louis Jourdan counterpoints the manic Russian as the devilishly serene and calculating Kamal Khan, an exiled prince with interests in gambling, jewel smuggling and having Bond’s eyebrows stuffed and mounted in his trophy room.

As if the two weren’t enough of an odd couple in crime, Khan is assisted by man-mountain Gobinda and a chap with a circular saw yo-yo.


003. The girls

Maud Adams (who played Andrea Anders in The Man with the Golden Gun) returns but as a different character, the aloof and seductive Octopussy. She’s a circus owner, jewel smuggler, and leader of the spectacular tentacular all-lady action squad, the Octopus Cult.

Actress and former ‘Miss Sweden’, Kristina Wayborn, plays Magda, an agent of Khan and Octopussy who has the job of sleeping with 007 before stylishly throwing herself off a balcony.


004. Best moments

Flying the tiny AcroStar jet through the hangar in the film’s pre-titles sequence, the tuk-tuk chase through the busy streets of India, and Bond telling a tiger to ‘Sit!’.

The assault on Khan’s palace and the fight with Gobinda on top of a plane in mid-flight make for a good finale, but we’d be remiss to overlook the Most Ludicrous Moment in Bond History™, as 007 defuses a nuclear weapon while dressed as a clown.


005. Trivia

» First Bond film to feature the MGM lion (he’s called Leo) at the start.

» James Brolin was almost given the role of James Bond, before Roger Moore signed on at the eleventh hour.

» The song ‘All Time High’ (sung by Rita Coolidge) was the first Bond theme not to feature the title of the film in the lyrics.

» The film was released in China under the delightfully ambiguous title ‘007 Averts the Plot‘.

» It wasn’t the only Bond film to be released in 1983. Sean Connery’s creaky Thunderball rip-off, Never Say Never Again, was released exactly four months after Octopussy.


006. Best quotes

Kamal Khan: ‘Mr Bond is indeed of a very rare breed… soon to be made extinct.’

Magda: ‘He suggests a trade. The egg for your life.’
Bond: ‘Well I heard the price of eggs was up, but isn’t that a little high?’

Bond: ‘We’ve got company.’
Vijay: ‘No problem, this is a company car!’

Bond: [handing a wad of money to an Indian accomplice] ‘That should keep you in curry for a few weeks.’ *cringe*

Bond: ‘I trust you can handle this contraption, Q?’
Q: ‘It goes by hot air.’
Bond: ‘Oh, then you can.’


007. The verdict

As the name might suggest, Octopussy is an odd beast: silly and yet doused with Cold War severity, adventurous and yet also down to earth. It’s self-indulgent, veers into the ludicrous at the drop of a hat, and features 200% more clowns than you ever need in a Bond film. It shows off the excesses of the Moore era, and yet does it so unashamedly and plays to type so well that you can’t help but have a soft spot for it.

Yes, Roger is looking rather worn but he’s still committed to the role, and Louis Jourdan provides an excellent villain for him to play off. The action sequences are well executed, Adams makes for an enchanting female lead, and you even get a bit more Q for your money than usual (you can never have too much Major Boothroyd).

It’s a guilty pleasure, but not a Bond film to dismiss by any means.


What do you think of Octopussy? Let us know below…