Produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, Octopussy was released in the same year as the non-EON Bond film Never Say Never Again. Written by George MacDonald Fraser, Richard Maibaum, and Michael G. Wilson, the film was directed by John Glen.
When a fatally wounded British agent 009 stumbles into the British Embassy in East Berlin with a fake Fabergé egg, MI6 immediately suspect Soviet involvement. Fortunately, the real egg turns up at an auction in London. Bond is sent to find out who the seller is and subsequently why 009 was murdered. Bond switches the real egg with a fake one at the auction. When an exiled Afghan prince, Kamal Khan, pays £500 000 to buy the egg (following Bond's own bidding on the object to drive up the price), Bond follows him to his palace in India to find out why.
It turns out that a renegade Soviet, General Orlov, supplies Khan with priceless Soviet treasures, and replaces them in state depositories with replicas. Khan is in turn smuggling them into the west with help from Octopussy, a fabulously wealthy woman who lives in a floating palace in India, surrounded by women who are members of her "Octopus" cult.
Bond defeats Khan in a game of backgammon and assisted by his ally Vijay, foils Khan's bodyguard Gobinda's attempts to kill them. But one of Khan's associates, Magda, seduces Bond and steals the Fabergé egg. Bond is immediately captured by Gobinda and locked in Khan's palace, but using a pen containing aqua regia, he cuts a window's iron bars and escapes. His Seiko watch fitted with a beacon traces the Fabergé egg. He hears through a microphone that Orlov is planning to meet Khan at Karl-Marx-Stadt in East Germany, where Octopussy's circus is scheduled to perform. Khan notices the microphone and orders Gobinda to "Get Bond!". Posing as a corpse, Bond escapes.
Bond infiltrates Octopussy's island and confronts her, only to find out that she feels indebted to him for letting her father, a British Major, commit suicide rather than face the shame of a court martial when Bond was sent after him for smuggling and murder some years before. Khan now plans to replace the jewellery canister being smuggled through Octopussy's circus with a nuclear bomb. The warhead is primed to explode during a circus show at a US Air Force base in West Germany.
In East Germany Bond tries to stop the train with the bomb on board from leaving the Soviet base. He confronts Orlov, who escapes after revealing that the nuclear attack would be interpreted as an accident and Europe would insist on nuclear disarmament, rendering itself defenceless against an attack from Soviet forces. Bond pursues the train in Orlov's stolen car. When Orlov realizes that Bond is aboard, he runs after the train, past the GDR border guards before West German Guards shoot him dead. His final moments are witnessed by General Gogol, who has seized the stolen jewelry from Orlov's car and considers him disgraced.
Bond is soon attacked by Gobinda and one of the Octopussy Circus' twin knife throwers and is forced off the train. He pursues the train on foot and by stealing an Alfa-Romeo. Khan and Gobinda leave before the countdown runs out, passing Bond by the road on their way out, but Khan thinks that Bond will be too late to stop the bomb. Bond is chased by the police for stealing the car but finally makes his way into the circus disguised as a clown. He is captured trying to explain that there is a bomb hidden in the circus' cannon; but by showing her one of the jewels she was supposed to smuggle, he at least manages to convince Octopussy, who shoots open the canister, revealing the bomb. The guards let Bond go, and he defuses the bomb just in time.
Back in India, Khan is preparing to leave his palace. Octopussy, Magda and their cult members arrive, followed by Q and Bond in a hot air balloon. They launch an assault and overpower the guards. Gobinda and Khan capture Octopussy, escaping to an airplane by horseback. Bond reaches the plane and mounts it just as it takes off and then disables one of the engines. But then Gobinda climbs to the plane roof and ends up falling to his death during a desperate airborne fight with Bond. as the plane losses hight, Bond and Octopussy manage to jump onto a cliff as the plane crashes in a Mountain. While M and Gogol discuss the return of one of the pieces of jewelry, the Romanov star, Bond recuperates with Octopussy aboard her private boat in India.
Following For Your Eyes Only, Roger Moore had expressed a desire to stop playing James Bond. His contract had been for five films, with an option for another. Given his reluctance to return, the producers engaged in a semi-public quest for the next Bond, with names including Timothy Dalton and James Brolin being suggested. However, when the rival Never Say Never Again was announced the producers re-contracted Moore in the belief that an established actor in the role would fare better against Sean Connery. Brolin's three screentests were publicly released for the first time as a special feature named James Brolin: The Man Who Would Be Bond in the Octopussy Ultimate Edition DVD. The producers were initially reluctant to feature Maud Adams again because her previous character was killed in The Man with the Golden Gun. Sybil Danning was announced in Prevue magazine as being Octopussy in 1982, but was not cast. Faye Dunaway and Persis Khambatta were also considered for the title role (if Khambatta was cast this film would have featured two starfleet officers from Star Trek instead of one). It is also the first movie to have Robert Brown as Bond's boss M, which was due to the death of Bernard Lee in 1981. Desmond Llewelyn would get a larger role as Q in this film. One of Bond's allies was played by Vijay Amritraj, who was a professional tennis player. His character not only shares the same first name, but is also a tennis pro at Kamal Kahn's club ("Well, my backhand's improved.") and uses a tennis racket as a weapon during the car chase.
Hollywood stunt pilot and aerial coordinator J.W. "Corkey" Fornoff, who piloted a 12 foot Acrostar Jet through an open hangar at more than 150 miles per hour, has said, "Today, few directors would consider such a stunt. They'd just whip it up in a computer lab. Having collapsible wings, the plane was shown hidden in a horse trailer; however, a dummy was used for this shot. Filming inside the hangar was achieved by attaching the aircraft to an old Jaguar car by a steel pole with the roof torn off and driving along. The second unit were able to add enough obstacles including people and objects inside the hangar to hide the car and the pole and make it look as though Moore was flying inside the base. For the explosion after the mini jet escapes however, a miniature of the hangar was constructed and filmed closely. The exploding pieces of the hangar were in reality only four inches in length. A Mercedes-Benz saloon car was stolen by Bond and used to chase the train — having had his tires shot out, Bond drove on the rails and entered the train. During filming, the car had intact tires in one scene so as to avoid any mishap.
Stunt co-ordinator Martin Grace suffered an injury while shooting the scene where Bond climbs down the train to catch Octopussy's attention. During the second day of filming, Grace – who was Roger Moore's stunt double for the scene – carried on doing the scene longer than he should have, due to a miscommunication with the second unit director, and the train entered a section of the track that the team had not properly surveyed. Shortly afterwards, a concrete pole fractured Grace's left leg. This affected morale in the camp for some time.
The bicyclist seen passing in the middle of a swordfight during the tuk tuk chase sequence was in fact a bystander who passed through the shot, oblivious to the filming; his intrusion was captured by two cameras and left in the final film as an unscheduled stunt. Cameraman Alan Hume's last scene was that of Octopussy's followers rowing. That day, little time was left and it was decided to film the sunset at the eleventh hour when Hume reacted, "Oh just shoot the bloody thing!
The Fabergé egg in the film is real, it was stolen in 1897 and is called the Coronation Egg, although the egg in the film is named in the auction catalogue as Property of a Lady", which is the name of one of Ian Fleming's short stories released in more recent editions of the collection Octopussy and the Living Daylights.
In a bit of diegesis that "breaks the fourth wall", Vijay signals his affiliation to MI6 by playing the James Bond Theme on a recorder while Bond is disembarking from a boat in the harbour near the City Palace. Like his fictional counterpart, the real Vijay had a distinct fear of snakes and found difficulty holding the basket during filming.
The scene where Khan tries to cheat at backgammon is adapted from the Bond novel Moonraker, where Hugo Drax cheats at contract bridge. A line where Khan tells Bond to spend his money quickly is also a direct quotation from this novel (However, Drax address Bond as "Commander Bond" and Khan calls him "Mr. Bond").
The original long playing record, released in 1985 by A&M Records, was recalled because of a printing error, and became a rarity. In 1997, the soundtrack was released by Rykodisc, with the original soundtrack music and some film dialogue, on an Enhanced CD version. The 2003 release, by EMI, restored the original soundtrack music without dialogue.
Octopussy's premiere took place at the Odeon Leicester Square on 6 June 1983 in the company of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales. Within five months of its premiere, it was released in 16 countries worldwide. The film earned more than For Your Eyes Only, grossing $183,700,000, with $67.8 million in the United States alone. It also performed better than Never Say Never Again.
The film, however, did not fare as well with reviewers who disliked Bond's clown costume, gorilla outfit, and Tarzan yell during a jungle chase. In addition, the movie was criticized for being overly long and confusing. By contrast, Louis Jourdan's "suave" performance, the elegance of the film locations in India, and the stunts on aircraft and the train were appreciated. Jeffrey Westhoff at Rotten Tomatoes praised Roger Moore as being "sterling". In other words, most opinions of Octopussy were mixed, Rotten Tomatoes currently gives the film a 43% "rotten" rating on its' site. Entertainment Weekly, whose article of the 007 adventures on its' website lists Octopussy as the third-worst Bond film out of all twenty-one, referred to the clown costume as "Bond's worst disguise ever."
Octopussy was nominated for an Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films award with Maud Adams nominated for the Saturn Award in the Best Fantasy Supporting Actress category. The film won the Golden Screen Award in Germany and the Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing.
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