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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Bond meets Cephalopod Mollusk: Object? Octogasm!

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From: "2,500 Movies Challenge" <>
Date: Sep 28, 2014 4:10 PM
Subject: Dave's 2,500 Movies Challenge
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Dave's 2,500 Movies Challenge

#1,503. Octopussy (1983)

Posted: 27 Sep 2014 08:30 PM PDT

Directed By: John Glen

Starring: Roger Moore, Maud Adams, Louis Jourdan

Tag line: "Nobody does it better...thirteen times"

Trivia: James Brolin was almost given the role of James Bond when at the last minute, Roger Moore agreed to play Bond again

Comedy was a major component of Roger Moore's 7-film tenure as James Bond, yet no movie during this period featured as much humor as 1983's Octopussy, which relies so heavily on one-liners and witty asides that, at times, it's a real distraction.

Working undercover at a New Delhi circus, secret agent 009 (Andy Bradford), disguised as a clown, manages to steal an exact replica of an invaluable Fabergè egg, which he delivers to the British Embassy just before dying (he was stabbed in the back). With the real egg going up for auction at Sotheby's, MI6 sends its best man, James Bond (Moore), to root out whoever was responsible for the forgery (more than likely, with their copy now gone, this person or persons will want to re-acquire the original). After a brief bidding war, the egg is won by Kamal Khan (Louis Jourdan), who, along with his accomplice Madga (Kristin Wayborn), flies home to India with it. What they don't know is that, during the auction, Bond replaced the real egg with the phony one. With the actual Fabergè in tow, 007 heads to India, where he hopes to discover why Khan is so interested in such a priceless item. What he finds is that Khan, who's somehow linked to an all-female organization led by the mysterious Octopussy (Maud Adams), has been working for General Orlov (Steven Berkoff), a Soviet officer who's raising money to launch an attack against the west, one he's convinced will prove to the world the military might of the Soviet army. With the General's plan already in motion, 007 must move quickly to prevent a catastrophe that, if carried out, will kill thousands of innocent people.

Despite the seriousness of its story (which involves nuclear weapons, a hot topic back in the 1980s), Octopussy is chock full of humor, with Moore's Bond rattling off one-liners at a breakneck pace, and doing so throughout much of the film. While in India, Bond pays a visit to "Q" (Desmond Llewellyn), who's testing his latest invention: a remote controlled Indian rope trick, which, unfortunately, snaps in half before reaching the top. Without missing a beat, Bond quips "Having a hard time keeping it up, Q?" Even the action scenes have their share of jokes (during a street fight with Khan's henchmen, Bond pulls a sword out of a sword swallowers mouth, then tosses one poor guy onto a bed of nails), and some of the humor is downright ridiculous, like when Bond is in the jungle, trying to escape from Khan and his men. Climbing a tree, he grabs hold of a vine and jumps, and as he swings through the air, the Tarzan yell fills the soundtrack!

That's not to say Octopussy is devoid of those elements that make a good Bond picture. For one, the women are gorgeous, especially Wayborn's Madga, who isn't shy about using her body to get what she wants. Louis Jourdan, always a sold actor, does a fine job as this film's villain, as does Berkoff, whose General Orlov is particularly deplorable. Partially shot in Rajasthan, the Indian locale is used to great effect, and series regulars Llewellyn and Lois Maxwell (as Moneypenny) also turn up briefly (Llewellyn's "Q", who gets more screen time than usual, even joins in on the final battle). And while most of the movie features mediocre action, the entire finale, which begins with Bond trying to catch a train and ends with the traditional shoot-out, is absolutely exhilarating.

Unlike some, I don't rank Octopussy among the worst Bond films; its thrilling climax manages to salvage much of the silliness that went before it. But with such a heavy emphasis on humor, it's hard to deny that, at times, Octopussy comes across as one of the series' minor efforts.

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