|Production Notes - Octopussy
While the previous Bond film, For Your Eyes
, had been
in production, its financiers, United Artists were facing the biggest
crisis in its history. In 1980, they'd released Michael Cimino's
epic western Heaven's Gate, a film that had cost the company $40
million and which had stiffed at the box office. It became probably
the most infamous movie disaster of all time and pushed United Artists
to the brink of bankruptcy.
It was left to MGM to come to the rescue. They mounted a successful
take-over bid and the two companies were merged to form MGM /
UA, an arrangement that suited both companies as MGM weren't doing
so well financially either. But MGM chairman Kirk Kerkorian was
keen to see the two companies grow together and saw the Bond films
as one of the flagships of the new company.
Above: Roger Moore poses as James
Bond in Berlin.
Broccoli and United Artists production head Steven Bach
officially announced the start of pre-production on the thirteenth
EON Bond film, Octopussy, the title - but precious little else
- taken from another of Ian Fleming's short
stories. MGM / UA
expressed their confidence in the series by upping the budget
for the new film to $25 million.
But before any serious work could begin, Broccoli had
the hard task of convincing Roger
Moore to return to the
series again. Moore was still refusing to sign a long-term
contract with EON and, just as he had prior to For Your
Eyes Only, he'd decided not to come back for Octopussy.
Norbert Auerbach, president of UA, and Broccoli lured
Moore back with a $4 million salary and a percentage of
but only after a number of other actors [chief among
them American James Brolin] had been considered for the
Moore was becoming increasingly concerned that he was
no longer the right man for the job - he was now 54 years
old and was increasingly frustrated by the fact that
role simply wasn't all that demanding.
Broccoli had another problem to deal with, one that could
have been potentially even greater than losing his financiers
and his star. As part of his agreement that producer Kevin
McClory had entered into with EON over Thunderball ,
the script copyright would revert to McClory after ten
years and he agreed not to make any other Bond films during
Above: The leading ladies of "Octopussy" -
Maud Adams (top) and Kristina Wayborn.
In 1975, just as the ten year period was coming
to an end, McClory began planning a new Bond film. On 12 May
1976, he took out
full page advertisement in Variety announcing the imminent arrival
of something called James Bond of the Secret Service, a new
film that could boast Sean Connery on
board as a script advisor and thriller writer Len Deighton manning
the typewriter. Filming
was due to have begun in February 1977 with Orson Welles being
hotly tipped to play Blofeld, Trevor Howard penciled in as
and with Richard Attenborough set to direct. The film, later
retitled Warhead, floundered in the courts when questions were
to what exactly McClory now had the rights to.
Connery walked away from Warhead leaving
McClory to work out the fine details of his agreement with
EON. And by 1982, McClory was in a position to finally
mount his own Bond project, the first non-EON 007 movies
since the disastrous Casino Royale . What was perhaps
most worrying for Broccoli was that the new film, now retitled
Never Say Never Again, had Connery back in the fold and
this time he was stepping in front of the cameras for one
last fling with Bond.
McClory had announced that Never Say Never
Again would commence shooting at about the same time as
meant that Moore's sixth outing as 007 would be going
head-to-head with the return of Connery.
Disregarding McClory's attempts to start a rival franchise,
EON began work on their new film. The script, which mentioned
the events of Fleming's original story only in passing
and which also included a scene [wherein Bond inflates
the price of a Faberge egg at an auction] from another
story, The Property of a Lady, was originally co-written
by Broccoli, returning director John Glen and George MacDonald
Fraser, the author of the Flashman novels and writer of
The Three Musketeers  and Force Ten From Navarone
, directed by former Bond director Guy Hamilton.
The main villain Kamal Kahn played by Louis Jourdan and his
henchman Gobinda played by Kabir Bedi.
The script was eventually superseded by one written by Bond
veteran Richard Maibaum and executive producer Michael
G. Wilson [with, as Maibaum pointed out, "none of that space station
crap like they had in Moonraker ], though Fraser was to
retain a co-screen writing credit.
Swedish actress Maud
Adams became the first Bond girl to appear
twice in the series since Martine
Beswick's double appearance
in From Russia With Love  and Thunderball .
Adams had appeared in The Man With The
Golden Gun  and
chance at a larger Bond girl role when she met Broccoli again,
quite by chance, on a flight. Other Bond girls this time included
Kristina Wayborn, who was
spotted by Broccoli playing Greta Garbo in a TV documentary,
and Michaela Clavell, the daughter of Shogun
author James Clavell, as Moneypenny's assistant Penelope Smallbone.
Cast as chief villain was French actor Louis
Jourdan, who bought
with him a wealth of experience from a career that had already
spanned some 40 years. He brought a quiet dignity and strength
to the role of the Kamal Khan and proved to be one of the film's
few saving graces. He was assisted by Steven
Berkoff, an excellent
performer here giving a rather below-par performance as a renegade
The forces of good were represented by the unlikely figure
of Vijay Amitraj, the former Davis Cup winning tennis star,
here making his acting debut. Robert
Brown made his own
debut of sorts, despite a long career in films, here making
his first appearance in the series, replacing the late
Bernard Lee as Bond's superior, M. Brown and Moore had
worked together more than 20 years previously in Ivanhoe.
Production began for real on Octopussy with the second
unit staging the mid-air tussle between Gobinda and Bond
on the outside of Kamal Khan's aircraft. Moonraker veterans
Jake Lombard and B.J. Worth bought their wealth of airborne
experience to bear on the sequence which was supervised
by action arranger Bob Simmons. Back projection shots were
also filmed and used to insert Moore and Kabir
the action in the final days of studio shooting during
The first unit opened its account on Tuesday 10 August 1982
at the infamous Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin where they filmed
Bond's briefing by M. The crew decamped to Pinewood on Monday
16 August where the production was based while British location
work took place. The Nene Valley steam railway in Peterborough
stood in for the many rail based scenes while nearby Wansford
Junction improbably saw service as Karl Marx Stadt.
Above: The Acrostar jet flies in
to the hangar during the spectacular pre-titles sequence
(above), Bond takes care of some goons with help from Octopussy's
Octopussy's circus tent was set up in the grounds of RAF Upper
Heyford in Oxfordshire and the same facility was re-dressed to
stand in for the USAF base at Feldstadt where Bond defuses the
nuclear warhead. Another air force base, RAF Northolt, doubled
for South America for the teaser and saw the belated debut in
the series of the Bede
Acrostar one-man aircraft.
The Acrostar had originally been written into the climax of Moonraker
- Bond was going to use the aircraft to escape from Drax's headquarters.
That sequence was abandoned and it finally saw the light of day
in Octopussy where the aircraft's owner, Corkey Fornhof, flew
all of the stunt sequences.
On 12 September 1982, the Bond circus
rolled into Udaipur, India to start work on the many India
based sequences in Octopussy. The Lake Palace Hotel at
Lake Pichola was the location used to represent Octopussy's
Much to Roger Moore's relief [he suffered
a stomach infection in the sweltering Indian heat] the
production bade India farewell and returned to Pinewood
where the courtyard of Kamal Khan's palace was recreated
inside the 007 stage. Shooting continued right up to Christmas
Eve and resumed on 3 January 1983. As production headed
towards its 21 January completion, Roger Moore is reported
to have had dinner with Sean Connery who himself was back
in Bondage over at Elstree studios.
John Barry was again charged with writing
the soundtrack and the all important title song. For the
latter, he called upon the talents of Tim Rice and he and
Barry were instructed not to write a song called Octopussy
- perhaps for obvious reasons. Rice had wanted long-time
collaborator Elaine Paige to perform the song, but eventually,
after Shirley Bassey had been briefly considered for a Bond
film hat trick, Rita Coolidge was chosen to sing All Time
Above: Bond gambles with Kahn (top),
and fights his way through the streets of Udaipur.
The song may not have been a huge success [it peaked at number
75 in the British charts and hardly did any better in the States,
reaching just number 38] but it did win Rice an award - for a
song that had achieved a million radio plays worldwide.
Octopussy's premiere took place, as ever, at the Odeon Leicester
Square on 6 June 1983 in the company of The Prince and Princess
of Wales. The film did better than the disappointing take for
For Your Eyes Only, grossing $183,700,000 worldwide and attracting
25.5 million punters in the States, the equal of Moonraker.
But for a while, US takings looked to be in some jeopardy when
the Los Angeles Times ran a story accusing the new film's title
of being 'tawdry', intimating that it might have been a turn-off
for women audiences. But EON were not only vindicated by the respectable
box-office, but by the National Research Group who took a survey
of 600 women between the ages of 12 and 49 in Los Angeles, New
York, Charlotte, Houston and Kansas City and found that only 4%
of respondents gave negative responses.