007 Casefile: ‘Octopussy’
After getting down and dirty in For Your Eyes Only Bond toes the line of silliness once more.
The Mission: James Bond is dispatched to solve an unusual mystery – Agent 009 has turned up dead in East Berlin dressed as a clown and clutching a Faberge Egg. The British suspect Soviet involvement and send 007 to unravel the puzzle.
Locales: India, East and West Germany (back when that was a thing).
Gadgets: Bond’s Seiko wristwatch returns, this will a radar tracking system that works along with his Mountblanc pen. The pen also features a mix of acids. A TV watch is also featured.
Vehicles: For when a car just won’t do…Bond uses a tiny Acrostar jet that is concealed in a horse stall complete with fake horse butt, a boat disguised as a crocodile, a three wheeled taxi and a hot air balloon that doubles as a security camera array.
Sidekicks: Upon arriving in India Bond teams up with Vijay, under cover as a tennis pro. Octopussy and her circus troupe later become allies with Bond.
The Girls: The titular Octopussy holds Bond’s attention for much of the film even though her criminal organisation initially puts them at odds. Magda, one of Octopussy’s subordinates seduces Bond to steal his Faberge Egg…I don’t think he minded. For Bond’s prologue adventure he has Bianca as an ally.
The Enemy: Octopussy is an international jewel smuggler, although Bond doesn’t seem to hold this against her. She is teamed up the more villainous Kamal Khan, an exiled Afghan prince. Kamal is in cahoots with General Orlov in concocting his scheme.
Evil Plot: Kamal is conspiring with the Soviets to detonate a nuclear warhead on a US Air Base in West Germany, opening the way for the Soviet forces to invade. To do this they’re taking advantage of their smuggling arrangement with Octopussy, tricking her into transporting the warhead in her circus train.
Distinguishing Features: The movie is called Octopussy for a reason – there’s nothing distinct about Kamal at all.
Secret Lair: Octopussy has a circus train that features compartments designed for smuggling.
Henchmen: Among his colourful companions Kamal has the stern Gobinda who wields his scimitar like a proper stereotype. One thug carries a remarkably unwieldy yo-yo razor. And because every circus demands it, he has knife-throwing twins.
Facts About the Movie
Politically Incorrect Behaviour: Bond’s behaviour is improving, but it’s out that he give clemency to an international jewel smuggler after she sleeps with him. More startling is the stereotyping of Indians. In the day Bond was never really trod carefully when it came to depicting other cultures, but this borders on offensive.
Notable Firsts: Robert Brown, a long time friend of Roger Moore, takes on the role of M.
Random Trivia: Moore was prepared to leave the role Bond following For Your Eyes Only, prompting a public campaign for a replacement. Timothy Dalton and James Brolin were strongly considered. When Connery was announced as starring in the parody Never Say Never Again the producers insisted that they needed Moore to continue the part to avoid being overshadowed. Brolin’s screen tests can be seen on the DVD.
Maud Adams, who plays Octopussy, also starred in The Man With the Golden Gun as Andrea Anders. The producers considered many actresses for the part and initially intended for the role to performed by an Indian women, and then intended to darken Adams’ hair and skin tone, but Adams insisted on playing Octopussy as an European.
Vijay, Bond’s Indian contact working under cover as a tennis pro, is played by Vijay Amritraj – a real life tennis pro.