MI6 tracks the legacy of "Octopussy", from Ian Fleming's short story, to the comic strip adaptation, feature film and lost computer game...

Octopussy - The Legacy
11th March 2011

Summary
Prior to his death in 1964, Ian Fleming was working on a full-length James Bond novel, "The Man With The Golden Gun", as well as a second short-story anthology for the legendary secret agent. Whilst Fleming never saw the finished anthology, it would contain "Octopussy" - one of his most titillating titles - and it would be published alongside "The Living Daylights" posthumously in 1966.
 

Despite the tragic and sudden death of 007's creator, his hero was alive and well in print and on celluloid. John McLusky had been dictating Bond's image in the Daily Express since 1958 and in 1966 the paper published "Octopussy", the comic strip adaptation of Ian Fleming's short story. The strip ran from November 14th '66 until May 27th 1967.

For Sir Roger Moore's 1983 on-screen adventure, with Moore going head to head with Sean Connery (back in rival Bond film "Never Say Never Again"), Producers turned to Fleming's short story for a catchy title and inspiration for the film. None of the events from the literary "Octopussy" are seen on screen, instead they are offered as explination for 007's infamy in dialogue by the lead character, Octopussy, played by Maud Adams.

The Short Story
In 1966 Jonathan Cape published its final first edition Ian Fleming work, "Octopussy and The Living Daylights". When the paperback edition hit the shelves the duo of short stories was joined by "Property of A Lady". In 2003, "Property Of A Lady" was added

"Octopussy" Literary Coverage

Synopsis: Bond is sent to the Caribbean to investigate the murder during the War of his former skiing instructor, Hans Oberhauser. Major Dexter Smythe admits to carrying out the murder during the German conquest and later returning to steal Oberhause's gold. Bond leaves, and the disgraced Smythe considers killing himself before he is arrested. Instead he goes swimming and tries to feed the octopus he has been taming, only to be poisoned by a deadly scorpion fish.

Novel: Datastream
Published: 1966 (UK)
Preceded By: The Man With The Golden Gun
Followed By: Colonel Sun
  For Your Eyes Only Cover Art
Above: First Edition Cover Art

"The deep boom of the two shots that had been batting to and fro among the mountains died away. Major Smythe took one last look at the black splash on the white snow and hurried off..."

"Ian Fleming traces the intricacies of counter-espionage with all the efficient authority of 007's own secret reports." - Sunday Times

The Comic Strip
"Octopussy" arrived in Daily Express readers' letter boxes on 14th November 1966 as part of Series Three of the successful James Bond comic saga. The strips were designed by Yaroslav Horak with Jim Lawrence adapting Ian Fleming's original story. The central plot of Major Dexter Smythe and his cache of Nazi gold remains as Fleming had written, but Lawrence created back story with the Chinese Tong gang and Trudi Oberhauser added to put flesh on the bones. "Octopussy", along with "The Hildebrand Rarity" was re-published by Titian on 21st May 2004.

"Octopussy" Comic Coverage

Synopsis: When an old friend's body is found in the Alps 20 years after he disappeared, James Bond quickly finds himself caught between Nazi gold, the Chinese Tongs and the savage, eight-armed embrace of Octopussy! Mountain guide Hannes Oberhauser was the man who taught James Bond how to ski, and two decades later 007 must team up with his daughter Trudi to hunt for his killer.


Above: The opening panel of "Octopussy"

"James, I do hope this horrible business of my father's murder isn't making me imagine things!"
 
Comic: Datastream
Published: 14th November 1966 (UK)
Preceded By: The Living Daylights
Followed By: The Hildebrand Rarity

A View To A Kill Cover Art
Above: Ultimate Edition Cover Art
Buy Online - Amazon (UK)
 

The Film
Following the success of the down-to-earth 007 adventure, "For Your Eyes Only", Roger Moore returned as 007 for the sixth consecutive adventure. In a screenplay, adapted in part from the Fleming novel, screenwriters George MacDonald Fraser, Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson pit 007 against a mad jewelry smuggler and forger - but there's something even larger at stake. detente is threatened by a Russian general who wishes to see another world war with Russian supremacy. The story of 007 visiting Smythe as Fleming dictated is used as dialogue when Octopussy, a smuggler and circus owner, welcome's James Bond into her home. She thanks him for letting her father do the honourable thing - commit suicide - rather than insisting he return to the police.

"Octopussy" Film Coverage

Synopsis: A power hungry Soviet general plots to oust the American military forces from Europe by detonating a nuclear weapon in West Germany and laying the blame on the United States. To stop him, Bond forms an unlikely alliance with an international jewel smuggler - the mysterious and beautiful Octopussy.

"Europe will insist on unilateral dissarmourment, leaving every border undefended for you to walk across at will. And it doesn't matter a damn to you that thousands of innocent people will be killed in that little accident of yours."

Film: Datastream
Released: UK: 6th June 1983 (PG) USA: 10th June 1983 (PG)
Running Time: 125 minutes
Worldwide Box Office: $183.7m
Preceded by: For Your Eyes Only
Followed by: A View To A Kill

4 Word Reviews

  • Mmmm. Stuffed Goat's Head.
  • Wow, has Maud aged...
  • Q gets the girl
  • Romantic music is terrific
  • Excellent Cold War Thriller
  • Actors and action excellent
  • Roger Moore speaks german
  • Bond's All Time High
  • Gobinda does Oddjob act

"Oh James, we're two of a kind. There are vast rewards for a man of your talents willing to take risks."

  Roger Moore in A View To A Kill
Above: Roger Moore with Octopussy's clique...

The Music
This is one of the rare, but understandable, films for which the producers opted not the have a title theme based upon the plot and title of the film. Steering away from "Octopussy" and its grotto of innuendo, John Barry instead teams up with musical theatre sensation, Tim Rice, to pen "All Time High" that would go on to be sung by American pop/country star, Rita Coolidge. Despite the presigious names behind the title song, "All Time High" only clocked in at number 36 on the US pop charts - the 7th highest Bond theme to make the cut. Its highest chart position was #7 - in Switzerland. The score itself is another sweeping Barry classic.

"Octopussy" Music

The Game
A never-published video game was commissioned to be developed alongside the film in 1983. Would it have made it to production, "James Bond as seen in Octopussy" (not one of the more catchier titles) would have been available for Commodore 64 and ColecoVision and would have been the debut 007 movie tie-in game.

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