Cinema release poster
Directed by John Glen
Produced by Albert R. Broccoli
Written by Ian Fleming (stories)
Screenplay by George MacDonald Fraser
Michael G. Wilson
Richard Maibaum
Starring Roger Moore
Geoffrey Keen
Maud Adams
Louis Jourdan
Steven Berkoff
Desmond Llewelyn
Kristina Wayborn
Kabir Bedi
Robert Brown
Douglas Wilmer
Music by John Barry
"All Time High"
Cinematography Alan Hume
Studio Danjaq
Eon Productions
Distributed by MGM/UA Entertainment Co.
Release date(s) 6 June 1983 (1983-06-06)
Running time 131 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $27.5 million
Box office $187.5 million

Octopussy (1983) is the thirteenth entry in the James Bond series, and the sixth to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. The film's title is taken from a short story in Ian Fleming's 1966 short story collection Octopussy and The Living Daylights. However, the film's story is original though the film includes a portion inspired by the Fleming short story "The Property of a Lady" (included in 1967 & later editions of Octopussy and The Living Daylights), while the events of the short story "Octopussy" form a part of the title character's background and are recounted by her. In the film, Bond is assigned the task of following a general who is stealing jewels and relics from the Russian government. This leads him to a wealthy Afghan prince, Kamal Khan, and his associate, Octopussy. Bond uncovers a plot to force disarmament in Europe with the use of a nuclear weapon.

Produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, Octopussy was released in the same year as the non-Eon Bond film Never Say Never Again. Written by George MacDonald Fraser, Richard Maibaum, and Michael G. Wilson, the film was directed by John Glen.



British agent 009 is found dead at the British embassy in East Berlin, dressed as a circus clown and carrying a fake Fabergé egg. MI6 immediately suspects Soviet involvement, and sends James Bond—agent 007—to investigate after seeing the real egg appears at an auction in London, ordering the agent to find out who the seller is. At the auction, Bond is able to swap the real egg with the fake, and outbids exiled Afghan prince, Kamal Khan, forcing Khan to pay £500,000 for the fake egg. Bond follows Khan back to his palace in Rajasthan, India, where Bond defeats Khan in a game of backgammon, and escapes with his Indian colleague Vijay from Khan's bodyguard Gobinda's attempts to kill them. Bond is seduced by one of Khan's associates, Magda (Kristina Wayborn), and notices she has a blue-ringed octopus tattoo. Magda steals the real Fabergé egg while Gobinda captures Bond and takes him to Khan's palace. After the agent escapes his cell, Bond discovers Khan is working with the renegade Soviet General Orlov, who is seeking to expand Soviet borders through Europe.

After escaping the palace, Bond infiltrates a floating palace in Udaipur, India, and there finds its owner, Octopussy, a wealthy woman who leads the Octopus cult which Magda is a part of. In Octopussy's palace, Bond finds out Orlov has been supplying Khan with priceless Soviet treasures, replacing them with replicas, while Khan has been smuggling the real versions into the West via Octopussy's circus troupe. Orlov is planning to meet Khan at Karl-Marx-Stadt in East Germany, where the circus is scheduled to perform. After evading Khan's assassins, Bond goes to East Germany.

Louis Jourdan as Kamal Khan

Bond infiltrates the circus, and finds that Orlov replaced the Soviet treasures with a nuclear warhead, primed to explode during the circus show at a US Air Force base in West Germany. The explosion would trigger Europe into seeking disarmament in the belief that the bomb was a US one that detonated by accident, leaving its borders open to Soviet invasion. Bond then uses Orlov's car - on which the jewellery is found - to invade the circus train, while Orlov himself is shot dead by GDR guards while trying to cross the border. Bond kills the twin knife-throwers, Mischka and Grischka in revenge for 009's death, and after being forced to leave the train, commandeers a civilian's Alfa Romeo to get to the Air Force base. At the base, Bond disguises himself as a clown to evade the West Germany police and attempts to convince Octopussy that Khan has betrayed her by showing her one of the treasures she was to be smuggling that he took from Orlov's car. Octopussy realises the double-cross and assists Bond in deactivating the warhead in time.

Bond and Octopussy return to India and launch an assault on Khan's palace. Khan and Gobinda flee the palace, capturing Octopussy in the process. Bond follows them as they attempt to escape on an airplane, and grabs the outside of the plane before it takes off and disables one of its engines. Gobinda dies after falling off the roof of the plane, and after Bond rescues Octopussy from Khan, the duo jump to a nearby cliff moments before the plane crashes into a mountain, killing Khan. While M and General Gogol discuss the return of the jewellery, Bond recuperates with Octopussy aboard her private boat in India.



The title 'Octopussy' comes from the Ian Fleming collection of short stories Octopussy and The Living Daylights. Hardly any of the plot of the short story "Octopussy" is used, however, with its events simply related by Bond as the family backstory for one of the main characters. The scene at Sotheby's is, though, drawn from the short story "The Property of a Lady" (included in 1967 & later editions of the collection); while Kamal Khan's reaction following the backgammon game is taken from Fleming's novel Moonraker. Due to a non-Eon Bond film, Never Say Never Again being released in 1983, Octopussy saw Roger Moore returning for the role, though he had showed interest in departing from James Bond after For Your Eyes Only.[2]


James Brolin's screen test as James Bond, with Vijay Amritraj.

Following For Your Eyes Only, Roger Moore had expressed a desire to stop playing James Bond. His original contract had been for three films, which was fulfilled with The Spy Who Loved Me. Subsequent films were negotiated on a film by film basis. Given his reluctance to return for Octopussy, the producers engaged in a semi-public quest for the next Bond, with names including Timothy Dalton and James Brolin being suggested.[2] However, when the rival Never Say Never Again was announced the producers re-contracted Moore in the belief that an established actor in the role would fare better against Sean Connery.[2] Brolin's three screentests were publicly released for the first time as a special feature named James Brolin: The Man Who Would Be Bond in the Octopussy Ultimate Edition DVD.[2][3]

The producers were initially reluctant to feature Maud Adams again because her previous character was killed in The Man with the Golden Gun. Sybil Danning was announced in Prevue magazine as being Octopussy in 1982, but was never actually cast. Faye Dunaway was deemed too expensive. Barbara Carrera said she turned down the role to take a part in the competing Bond film Never Say Never Again. In the book, "A Star is Found: Our Adventures Casting Some of Hollywood's Biggest Movies," casting director Jane Jenkins revealed that the Bond producers told her that they wanted an East Indian actress to play Octopussy, so she looked at the only two Indians in a then-predominately white Hollywood, Persis Khambatta and Susie Coelho. Afterwards, she auditioned white actresses, like Barbara Parkins, who she felt could pass for Indian. Finally, Cubby Broccoli announced to her that they would cast Swedish-born Maud Adams, darken her hair, and change a few lines about how she was raised by an Indian family. A different plotline, with Adams' British father exposed as a traitor, was used instead. As for Adams, she asked to play Octopussy as a European woman and was granted this, but on the title character's name, she felt the producers "went too far".

Octopussy is also the first movie to have Robert Brown as M, which was due to the death of Bernard Lee in 1981. Desmond Llewelyn would get a larger role as Q in this film. One of Bond's allies was played by Vijay Amritraj, who was a professional tennis player. His character not only shares the same first name, but is also a tennis pro at Kamal Khan's club, and uses a tennis racket as a weapon during the auto rickshaw chase (accompanied by the sound of a tennis ball being hit and scenes of onlookers turning their heads left and right as if they are watching a tennis match).

There is a brief cameo by Gary Russell as a teenager in a car. Russell had been a popular child actor as Dick in the TV series The Famous Five.


The hangar at RAF Northolt used for filming the jet stunt scene.

The filming of Octopussy began on 10 August 1982 with the scene in which Bond arrives at Checkpoint Charlie.[4] Principal photography was done by Arthur Wooster and his second unit, who later filmed the knife-throwing scenes.[5] Most of the film was shot in Udaipur, India and the Monsoon Palace was shot extensively in the film. In England the RAF Northolt, RAF Upper Heyford and RAF Oakley were the main locations. The Karl-Marx-Stadt railways scenes were shot at the Nene Valley Railway, near Peterborough, while studio work was performed at the Pinewood Studios and 007 Stage.[2] Most of the crew as well as Roger Moore had diet problems while shooting in India.[1]

Monsoon Palace

The pre-title sequence has a scene where Bond flies a nimble homebuilt Bede BD-5J aircraft through an open hangar.[5] Hollywood stunt pilot and aerial coordinator J.W. "Corkey" Fornoff, who piloted the aircraft at more than 150 miles per hour, has said, "Today, few directors would consider such a stunt. They'd just whip it up in a computer lab."[6] Having collapsible wings, the plane was shown hidden in a horse trailer; however, a dummy was used for this shot.[7] Filming inside the hangar was achieved by attaching the aircraft to an old Jaguar car by a steel pole with the roof torn off and driving along.[5] The second unit were able to add enough obstacles including people and objects inside the hangar to hide the car and the pole and make it look as though Moore was flying inside the base. For the explosion after the mini jet escapes however, a miniature of the hangar was constructed and filmed up close. The exploding pieces of the hangar were in reality only four inches in length.[2] A Mercedes-Benz saloon car was stolen by Bond and used to chase the train — having had his tires shot out, Bond drove on the rails and entered the train. During filming, the car had intact tires in one scene so as to avoid any mishap.[7]

Acrostar from Octopussy seen at a convention

Stunt co-ordinator Martin Grace suffered an injury while shooting the scene where Bond climbs down the train to catch Octopussy's attention.[8] During the second day of filming, Grace – who was Roger Moore's stunt double for the scene – carried on doing the scene longer than he should have, due to a miscommunication with the second unit director, and the train entered a section of the track that the team had not properly surveyed. Shortly afterwards, a concrete pole fractured Grace's left leg.[2] This affected morale in the camp for some time.

The bicyclist seen passing in the middle of a swordfight during the tuk tuk chase sequence was in fact a bystander who passed through the shot, oblivious to the filming; his intrusion was captured by two cameras and left in the final film as an unscheduled stunt.[2] Cameraman Alan Hume's last scene was that of Octopussy's followers rowing. That day, little time was left and it was decided to film the sunset at the eleventh hour when Hume reacted, "Oh, just shoot the bloody thing!"[9]

The Fabergé egg in the film is real; it was made in 1897 and is called the Coronation Egg, although the egg in the film is named in the auction catalogue as "Property of a Lady", which is the name of one of Ian Fleming's short stories released in more recent editions of the collection Octopussy and The Living Daylights.

In a bit of diegesis that "breaks the fourth wall", Vijay signals his affiliation to MI6 by playing the James Bond Theme on a recorder while Bond is disembarking from a boat in the harbour near the City Palace. Like his fictional counterpart, the real Vijay had a distinct fear of snakes and found difficulty holding the basket during filming.[2]

The scene where Khan tries to cheat at backgammon is adapted from the Bond novel Moonraker, where Hugo Drax cheats at contract bridge. The scene is also quite similar to the scene in Goldfinger, where Bond defeats Goldfinger by using his lucky golf ball, which Oddjob crushes (just as Gobinda does with the dice). A line where Khan tells Bond to spend his money quickly is also a direct quotation from this novel (However, Drax addresses Bond as "Commander Bond" and Khan calls him "Mr. Bond").


The score was composed by John Barry, with the lyrics by Tim Rice.[10] The opening theme, "All Time High" is sung by Rita Coolidge, and is one of six musical themes in the James Bond series that do not refer to the film's title, the other five being Dr. No (1962), "We Have All the Time in the World" from On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), "Nobody Does It Better" from The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) (although the song's lyrics do include the phrase, "the spy who loved me"), the song "You Know My Name" from Casino Royale (2006), and "Another Way to Die" from Quantum of Solace (2008). "All Time High" spent four weeks at #1 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary singles chart and reached #36 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The soundtrack album was released in 1985 by A&M Records, the compact disc version of was recalled due to a colour printing error which omitted the credits from the album cover making it a rare collector's item. In 1997, the soundtrack was re-issued by Rykodisc,[11] with the original soundtrack music and some film dialogue, on an Enhanced CD version. The 2003 release, by EMI, restored the original soundtrack music without dialogue.

Release and reception

Octopussy's premiere took place at the Odeon Leicester Square on 6 June 1983 in the company of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales. Within five months of its premiere, it was released in 16 countries worldwide.[12] The film earned slightly less than For Your Eyes Only, but still grossing $187,500,000, with $67.8 million in the United States alone. It also performed slightly better than Never Say Never Again, the non-Eon Bond remake of Thunderball which came out a few months later.

Currently the film has received mixed reviews. Some reviewers disliked Bond's clown costume,[13] gorilla outfit, and Tarzan yell during a jungle chase. One review claimed that it was long and confusing.[14] By contrast, Louis Jourdan's "suave" performance,[15] the elegance of the film locations in India, and the stunts on aircraft and the train were appreciated.[16] Jeffrey Westhoff at Rotten Tomatoes praised Roger Moore as being "sterling".[17] Neal Gabler and Jeffrey Lyons at the TV-show Sneak Previews praised the film and said "Octopussy delivers" and "The nice thing about Octopussy is that it's going back-to-basics, less gadgets, more hand-to-hand combat. It's more of an adventure movie in a more traditional sense and I like it for that". Danny Peary wrote that Octopussy "has slow spots, little humour, and villains who aren’t nearly of the calibre of Dr. No, Goldfinger, or Blofeld. Also, the filmmakers make the mistake of demeaning Bond by having him swing through the trees and emitting a Tarzan cry and having him hide in a gorilla suit and later disguise himself as a clown (whom all the kids at the circus laugh at). It’s as if they’re trying to remind us that everything is tongue-in-cheek, but that makes little sense, for the film is much more serious than typical Bond outings – in fact, it recalls the tone of From Russia with Love."[18] Entertainment Weekly chose Octopussy as the third worst Bond film,[19] while Norman Wilner of MSN chose it as the eighth worst,[20] and IGN chose it as the seventh worst.[21] The review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 47% rating.[22]

Octopussy was nominated for an Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Award, with Maud Adams nominated for the Saturn Award in the Best Fantasy Supporting Actress category. Chris Nashawaty also ranks her as the best Bond girl of the Roger Moore James Bond films.[23] The film won the Golden Screen Award in Germany and the Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing.[24]

Broadcast television versions

When Octopussy made its American broadcast network television debut on ABC in 1986, 30 seconds were cut. Meanwhile, in some TV versions, certain sections of the title credit sequence have been blackened out to obscure some of the more revealing bits of nudity.

See also


  1. ^ a b Hume, 121
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Inside Octopussy (DVD). MGM Home Entertainment Inc.. 2000. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0322765/. Retrieved 04 August 2007. 
  3. ^ "Home Cinema @ The Digital Fix - Octopussy (Ultimate Edition)". Dvdtimes.co.uk. http://www.dvdtimes.co.uk/content.php?contentid=62255. Retrieved 12 September 2010. 
  4. ^ "August: This Month in Bond History". http://commanderbond.net/article/2865. Retrieved 18 August 2007. 
  5. ^ a b c Hume, Alan; Gareth Owen (May 2004). "Potted Palms". A Life Through the Lens: Memoirs of a Film Cameraman. McFarland & Company. p. 122. ISBN 0786418036. 
  6. ^ Lunsford, J. Lynn (22 September 2006). "Filming air combat is as risky as a dogfight". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06265/724163-254.stm. Retrieved 12 August 2007. 
  7. ^ a b "Episode 2". Main Hoon Bond. Star Gold, Mumbai. No. 2, season 1. 54 minutes in.
  8. ^ Hume, 124
  9. ^ Hume, 125
  10. ^ "Octopussy soundtrack at Amazon". http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B000087DT6. Retrieved 13 August 2007. 
  11. ^ "Filmtrack's editorial on the Octopussy soundtrack". http://www.filmtracks.com/titles/octopussy.html. Retrieved 13 August 2007. 
  12. ^ "Octopussy at IMDb". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086034/releaseinfo. Retrieved 21 August 2007. 
  13. ^ "Octopussy: Review at Filmcritic.com". http://www.filmcritic.com/misc/emporium.nsf/reviews/Octopussy. Retrieved 13 August 2007. 
  14. ^ "Octopussy:Review on Reelviews". James Berardinelli. http://www.reelviews.net/movies/o/octopussy.html. Retrieved 13 August 2007. 
  15. ^ "Octopussy:Critical Review on IMDb". Steve Rhodes. http://reviews.imdb.com/Reviews/118/11807. Retrieved 21 August 2007. 
  16. ^ "Octopussy:Review on BBC". Debbie Barham. 30 August 2001. http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2001/08/30/octopussy_1983_review.shtml. Retrieved 13 August 2007. 
  17. ^ "Octopussy at Rotten Tomatoes". Jeffrey Westhoff. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/octopussy/. Retrieved 21 August 2007. 
  18. ^ Danny Peary, Guide for the Film Fanatic (Simon & Schuster, 1986) pp.306-307
  19. ^ Benjamin Svetkey; Joshua Rich. "Countdown: Ranking the Bond Films". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,1560072_4,00.html. Retrieved 27 June 2009. 
  20. ^ Norman Wilner. "Rating the Spy Game". MSN. http://ovas.ca/index.php?topic=22784.0;wap2. Retrieved 27 June 2009. 
  21. ^ "James Bond's Top 20". IGN Entertainment. http://uk.movies.ign.com/articles/746/746573p1.html. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  22. ^ "Octopussy". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/octopussy/. Retrieved 3 Mar 2010. 
  23. ^ Chris Nashawaty, "Moore...And Sometimes Less: A look at the most—and least—memorable bad guys, babes, and Bonds in Roger Moore's 007 oeuvre," Entertainment Wekly 1025 (12 December 2008): 37.
  24. ^ "Octopussy: Awards at IMDb". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086034/awards. Retrieved 18 August 2007. 

External links

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