Friday, June 12, 2009

Saturday Is Bond Day, #13: Octopussy

Bond Day is turning into a movable feast; this week it came on Thursday. By Octopussy, Roger Moore is definitely getting too old and the movies too silly; this is what we all think of when we think of the Moore Bond.

Interestingly, though, this time he's paired with two women who are also notably older than the usual run of Bond Girls -- the False Bond Girl is Magda (Kristina Waybourn, 33 when the movie was released) and the True one is the titular Octopussy (Maud Adams, returning after being the False one in The Man With the Golden Gun a decade before, and now 38). Sure, even Adams is a good decade-and-a-half younger than Moore, but at least she's not 22.

Octopussy is a step slower than the grounded and stylish For Your Eyes Only, and a return to the more cartoonish saving-the-world of the previous movies: Octopussy is the head of a large international jewel-smuggling ring, in cahoots with Kamal Khan (Louis Jourdan, who is not the most threatening Bond villain one can conceive of), though their actual modus operandi is more complicated than I could follow. (It involved a bloodthirsty Soviet General, Orlov, sneaking out Faberge eggs and other priceless treasures so that Khan's pet jeweler -- whom we never properly get introduced to -- can copy them, and then either the originals or the copies are then sold, or smuggled, or something.)

Bond gets caught up in this when agent 009 -- not otherwise named, and unrecognizable under clown makeup in his only scene -- is killed while investigating Octopussy's circus somewhere in Europe. But the trail doesn't lead him to her for quite a while; this is one of the Bond movies where the plot is just an excuse to stitch together scenes that Cubby Broccoli or the director, John Glen, wanted to put in: various chases (including one with elephants), Indian palaces, and of course a bevvy of female eye candy.

Moore is still game, and the technology behind the stunts is improving enough that it's not always obvious that he's in front of a blue screen, but he's obviously older and slower and the script gives him ever more jokey one-liners and silly scenes (such as a battle among Indian fakirs, where all of the cliches you are thinking of right now are deployed one by one).

Octopussy is fun as long as you don't take it seriously, and it's difficult to take it seriously with a lightweight like Jourdan as our world-threatening villain. (I might have missed it, but there doesn't seem to be any explanation of why he wants the Soviets to conquer Western Europe.) Steven Berkoff as Orlov is nastier and crazier, but he has only a few scenes. The only real reason to watch Octopussy these days is if you're a huge Maud Adams fan or if you're making a point to watch all of the Bond movies.

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1 comment:

Howard said...


My wife and I are watching this one now, since I wanted to compare it to "Never Say Never Again". It's certainly too jokey, though I thought it was pretty good up until the "villian hunts Bond using elephants" scene.

At least the technology seems realistic, which is more than I can say for "Never..." with it's laser watch.

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