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,
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 ,
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
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
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
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
played by Anthony Andrews or Michael Jackson, and his
adversary would be an octogenarian Norman Bates or Rocky
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,
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
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
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