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Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Octopussy

Roger Moore's sixth and penultimate appearance as James Bond was in one of the most implausibly titled movies of all time. When Ian Fleming wrote the book Octopussy, the word "pussy" still had more innocent connotations of referring to a cat (although, I'm sure he was well aware of its other meanings, otherwise how do you account for a character named Pussy Galore). But by 1983 everyone knew what a pussy was supposed to be. I remember the jokes going around the dorm when it came out--"What, does she have eight of them?"

Octopussy is also a pretty silly movie. It seems to try to continue the trend of making Bond films more spy-like and less buffoonish, with a plot about stolen Russian jewels and an attempt by a Russian general to set off an atomic bomb so disarmament will happen, and then he can invade Western Europe. Not ridiculously far-fetched.

But the film goes back to the winking at the camera attitude that Moore is associated with. In one sequence where he is escaping through an Indian jungle, chased by hunters on the backs of elephants, he encounters spiders, a tiger, a snake, and a crocodile. He also swings on vines while doing a Tarzan yell. That moments may be an all-time low for Bond films.

Some also complain that Bond, for the climax of the film, is in a clown outfit. I like that, because I like clowns (the first scene after the credits is of a clown being chased through the woods by a knife-thrower). But when the circus performers attack the lair of the chief villain (Louis Jordan, a Frenchman playing an Indian) it's just laughable.

The Bond "girl" is Maud Adams, who doesn't appear until after half the movie is over. The second Bond girl, Kristina Wayborn, doesn't get killed, which is unusual (sleeping with Bond is more dangerous than ice-road trucking). Who does get killed is Vijay Amritaj, who is a very good actor for a professional tennis player.

By this time Moore was tired of playing Bond. He only played it (Timothy Dalton and James Brolin auditioned) because Never Say Never Again, which brought back Sean Connery, was coming out the same year and the studio wanted an established star in the role. Moore would come back for one more Bond film.

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