MI6 trawls the archives to see how critics of the day received Roger Moore's 'all time high' outing as James Bond in the 1983 film "Octopussy"...

Time Tunnel: Review Rewind
31st March 2009

New York Times - June 10th, 1983
Let's face it: the sensationally successful and long-lived James Bond films will not quit, and for good reason. They are ''Star Wars'' fantasies for the middle-aged of all ages. ''Octopussy,'' the 13th in the series that began with ''Dr. No'' in [1962], is actually better than most.

The film, which opens today at the National and other theaters, makes no pretense of being based on anything except the Ian Fleming character and the high good humor and wit of the film makers.

Agent 007 faces a succession of unspeakable dangers and obliging women with the absurdly overstated, indefatigable waggishness that has outlived all imitations. Roger Moore, who plays Bond yet again, is not getting any younger, but neither is the character. The two have grown gracefully indivisible.

Much of the story is incomprehensible, but I'm sure that the characters include a crazy Soviet general (Steven Berkoff), who is as feared by the Russians as by the Allies; a decadent Afghan prince (Louis Jourdan), who gambles with loaded dice and would not hesitate to blow up the world for personal profit, and the glamorous tycoon of the film's title (Maud Adams), who lives in a lake palace in Udaipur, India, from which she runs an international business empire of hotels, airlines and an East German circus.

Right: Roger Moore poses for a publicity shot on location in Germany.


The point of any Bond adventure is its incredible gadgets - this film includes a virtually pocket-size jet plane - and the variations worked on the chases, sequences that, like great vaudeville gags, build from one surprise to the next to discover the unexpected topper. In ''Octopussy'' the best of these are a hilarious, precredit sequence in which Bond flees Cuba, another in India where Bond finds himself in league with a tiger in the course of an unusual ''shoot'' and one across East Germany involving an automobile, a circus train and an atomic bomb.


George MacDonald Fraser, Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson are responsible for the story and screenplay, which was directed by John Glen, who does much better than he did with ''For Your Eyes Only.''

However, the material is markedly better, and the budget seems noticeably larger. Peter Lamont's production design is both extravagant and funny.

''Octopussy,'' which has been rated PG (''Parental Guidance Suggested''), includes a lot of low-voltage sexual hanky-panky and some scenes of mayhem that are more picturesque than realistically violent.

Time - June 27th, 1983
You have a nasty habit of . . . surviving," sneered Kamal Khan as perplexity twitched in his left cheek.

James Bond allowed himself to smile. Though he had only recently met this exiled Afghan prince, Bond knew the type all too well. On twelve, no, 13 previous assignments for Her Majesty's Cinema Service, he had clenched his wits against some of the modern world's most notorious dastards. Imposing men they were—Drax, Blofeld, mad and wily Auric Goldfinger. Somehow this Kamal, this jet-set smuggler, seemed less than they, less than a man, shrunken into his dreary sins, human villainy reduced to venality. He looked wary and frail, like an extinct bird on a porcelain vase. He would hardly be worth killing horribly.

Bond glanced up across the [backgammon] board and allowed his smile to widen into a yawn. "I'll cover the bet with this Fabergé egg if you don't very much mind."

Kamal's eyes acknowledged a slight pain. Perhaps he was anticipating the familiar adventures in store for them both—the dinner of stuffed sheep's head, the full-dress safari with Bond as the prey, the chase through the bazaar, the fight with the portable buzz saw, the wing-walker aerobatics that would surely end in the Afghan's death. Or was it just a reflex of exquisite boredom on the face of a polo player named Louis Jourdan? . . .

"You can call me Octopussy," the woman murmured. She was, of course, gorgeous, her thin yet voluptuous body sheathed in a simple, expensive dress. Bond could sniff the perfume of her danger the moment they met. From there to bed had been the matter of a few glances between professionals, and the act itself had been high sport, the Wimbledon finals of sex. Now the match was over, and Bond, instead of steeling himself for a stray tarantula under the sheets, found himself ruminating. Was she the good woman or the bad one? In each of his assignments, it seemed, there was always one of each. That makes 24, no, 26 of them, each one flawless and passionate, each succeeding pair more considerate of his advancing age. Did spies get performance anxiety, or herpes? Or just bored with the reproduction of perfection?

"Grunt! Pow! Gnar! Ouch!!!"


As he applied the precise level of thumb pressure to the temple of one of Kamal's 7-ft. thugs, Bond turned meditative. When he had started playing this game of Save the Planet—when he was roguish Sean Connery and the world was so much younger—Bond had been a kind of role model for people of a certain class and ambition. Savoir-faire meant the aristocracy of style: which wine to decant, which brand of cigarette to smoke, which automatic weapon to carry under the armpit. Now that he was Roger Moore, 20 years later, Bond had degenerated into a male model, and something of a genial anachronism.


Oh, he still knew how to entertain, if not give pleasure.

The old double-entendres could still raise a grimace, and with the help of his blessed stunt team, Bond would doubtless eel his way through tight spots until he was older than yesterday. By then he would be played by Anthony Andrews or Michael Jackson, and his adversary would be an octogenarian Norman Bates or Rocky Balboa. And the women would still be young and beautiful . . .

Another scrape, and no scratches. Another nuclear holocaust averted, and now another woman—the good one, he guessed.

All's right with NATO and so to bed, with two martinis, shaken but not stirred, like 007 himself.

Bond raised his glass and looked meaningfully into What's-Her-Name's green eyes. "Here's to survival, darling," he said just before he fell asleep.

Variety - June, 1982
Storyline concerns a scheme by hawkish Russian General Orlov (Steven Berkoff) to launch a first-strike attack with conventional forces against the NATO countries in Europe, relying upon no nuclear retaliation by the West due to weakness brought about by peace movement in Europe.

Orlov is aided in his plan by a beautiful smuggler Octopussy (Maud Adams), her trader-in-art-forgeries underling Kamal (Louis Jourdan) and exquisite assistant Magda (Kristina Wayborn). James Bond (Roger Moore, in his sixth entry) is set on their trail when fellow agent 009 (Andy Bradford) is killed at a circus in East Berlin.

Trail takes Bond to India (lensed in sumptuous travelog shots) where he is assisted by local contact Vijay (tennis star Vijay Amritraj in a pleasant acting debut).

Surviving an impromptu Hounds of Zaroff tiger hunt turned manhunt and other perils, Bond pursues Kamal to Germany for the hair-raising race against time conclusion.

Film's high points are the spectaccular aerial stuntwork marking both the pre-credits teaser and extremely dangerous-looking climax.


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