Roger Moore had been against returning as Bond for this film but was persuaded to stay by Cubby Broccoli who felt that an established actor was needed to face up to competition from a returning Sean Connery in the rival Bond film “Never Say Never Again”, released in the same year. The script concerned the activities of Kamal Khan, a collector and smuggler and his compatriot Octopussy.
Khan has been collaborating with Soviet General Orlov who has been supplying him with priceless treasures which Khan then smuggles into various countries using a circus run by Octopussy as a cover. Bond manages to plant a microphone into a Faberge egg acquired by Khan and teams up with Octopussy who feels she owes Bond a favour. Orlov attempts to kill Bond but fails, himself dying in the process. Bond infiltrates the circus and finds that Khan has smuggled in a nuclear warhead which he intends to detonate, destabilising US interests in Europe, leaving it open to soviet invasion.
Maud Adams made her second Bond Girl appearance as Octopussy, beating strong competition and Cubby Broccoli’s desire to not use the same actress twice. His decision was proved correct and Adams won plaudits for her portrayal. French actor Louis Jordan was cast as Kamal Khan, with a habit of eating sheep’s eyes and an ice cold sophistication. Respected British actor Stephen Berkoff played Orlov as borderline insane in his lust for power and Kristina Waybourne stole every scene she was in as Octopussy’s right hand woman Magda. Veteran actor Robert Brown assumed the role of M, replacing Bernard Lee and Desmond Llewellyn was given an expanded role as Q.
John Glen helmed his second Bond film with the same assured style giving us a variety of exciting set pieces including an amazingly dangerous stunt where Bond flies an aeroplane through a hanger and a thrilling scene where having had the tyres shot on his car, he drives the vehicle onto a railway.
After the unsuccessful experimental music of the previous film, thankfully, John Barry returned to provide the soundtrack, with the theme song “All Time High” being sung by Rita Coolidge. John Glen took his crew to India for much of the location filming, relocating to the Nene valley railway, several RAF bases and then to the 007 stage once more.
Octopussy isn’t exactly a bad Bond film, but it feels unfocussed after “For your eyes only”, not quite sure what it wants to be. The levels of camp humour are notched up from the previous film, with Bond rushing to defuse the bomb dressed as a clown and even emitting a Tarzan like yell at one point . Again, it did well at the box office but critical reception was decidedly mixed. It’s the film that most divides Bond fans with love and hate in equal measure but is ultimately one of the more forgettable entries in the canon.