Octopussy is a 1983 spy film and the thirteenth in the James Bond series produced by Eon Productions, and the sixth to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond.

British cinema poster for Octopussy, illustrated by Dan Goozee and Renato Casaro
Directed byJohn Glen
Produced byAlbert R. Broccoli
Screenplay byGeorge MacDonald Fraser
Michael G. Wilson
Richard Maibaum
Based onJames Bond
by Ian Fleming
Music byJohn Barry
CinematographyAlan Hume
Edited byPeter Davies
Henry Richardson
Distributed byUnited International Pictures (International)
MGM/UA Entertainment Co. (United States)
Release date
  • 6 June 1983 (1983-06-06)
Running time
131 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
United States
Budget$27.5 million
Box office$187.5 million

The film's title is taken from a short story in Ian Fleming's 1966 short story collection Octopussy and The Living Daylights, although the film's plot is original. It does, however, include a scene inspired by the Fleming short story "The Property of a Lady" (included in 1967 and 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.

Bond is assigned the task of following a general who is stealing jewels and relics from the Soviet government. This leads him to a wealthy Afghan prince, Kamal Khan, and his associate, Octopussy, and the discovery of a plot to force disarmament in Western Europe with the use of a nuclear weapon.

Octopussy was produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, and was released in the same year as the non-Eon Bond film Never Say Never Again. The film was written by George MacDonald Fraser, Richard Maibaum, and Michael G. Wilson, and was directed by John Glen. The film earned $187.5 million against its $27.5 million budget and received mixed reviews, with praise being directed towards the action sequences and locations, and the plot and humour being targeted for criticism; Maud Adams's portrayal of the title character also drew polarised responses.


While trying to escape from East to West Berlin, British agent 009 is fatally wounded and dies after reaching the residence of the British Ambassador, dressed as a circus clown and carrying a fake Fabergé egg. MI6 immediately suspects Soviet involvement and, after seeing the real egg appear at an auction in London, sends James Bond to investigate and find out the identity of the seller. At the auction, Bond is able to swap the real egg with the fake and engages in a bidding war with 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. Bond escapes with his contact Vijay, foiling the attempts of Khan's bodyguard Gobinda to kill the pair. Bond is seduced by one of Khan's associates, Magda, and notices that she has a blue-ringed octopus tattoo. Bond permits Magda to steal the real Fabergé egg, fitted with listening and tracking devices by Q, while Gobinda captures and takes Bond to Khan's palace. After Bond escapes from his room, he listens in on the bug in the Fabergé egg and discovers that Khan is working with Orlov, a Soviet general, who is seeking to expand Soviet control into West-Central Europe.

After escaping from Khan's palace, Bond infiltrates a floating palace in Udaipur, India, and there finds its owner, Octopussy, a wealthy business woman, smuggler, and associate of Khan. She also leads the Octopus cult, of which Magda is a member. Octopussy has a personal connection with Bond: she is the daughter of the late Major Dexter-Smythe, whom Bond was assigned to arrest for treason. Bond allowed the Major to commit suicide rather than face trial, and is thanked by Octopussy for offering her father an honorable alternative, inviting Bond to stay on as her guest. Earlier in Khan's palace and later in Octopussy's palace, Bond finds out that 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 (Chemnitz) in East Germany, where the circus is scheduled to perform. Gobinda sends hoodlums to kill Bond, but he and Octopussy gain the upper hand when the assassins break into the palace. Bond learns from Q that Vijay has been killed by the goons.

Travelling to East Germany, Bond infiltrates the circus and finds out that Orlov replaced the Soviet treasures with a 100 kiloton nuclear warhead, primed to explode during the circus show at the fictional Feldstadt 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 a Soviet invasion. Bond takes Orlov's car, drives it along the train tracks, and boards the moving circus train. Orlov gives chase until the West German border, but is killed illegally crossing the border by West German border guards as he pursues the train on-foot. Bond kills the twin knife-throwing assassins Mischka and Grischka to avenge the murder of 009 and, after falling from the train, commandeers a car to get to the airbase. Bond penetrates the base, hides, and disguises himself as a clown, evading the police and airbase security. Finding Octopussy, he attempts to convince her and airbase's commanding general that Khan has betrayed her by showing her one of the treasures found in Orlov's car, which she was to smuggle for him. Octopussy realises that she has been tricked, and assists Bond in deactivating the warhead.

Bond and Octopussy return separately to India. Bond arrives at Khan's palace just as Octopussy and her troops have launched an assault on the grounds. Octopussy attempts to kill Khan, but is captured by Gobinda. While Octopussy's team, led by Magda, overpower Khan's guards, Khan and Gobinda abandon the palace, taking Octopussy as a hostage. Bond pursues them as they attempt to escape in their plane, clinging to the fuselage and disabling one of the engines. In the subsequent struggle with Bond, Gobinda takes a deadly plummet off the roof of the plane, and Bond rescues Octopussy from Khan, the pair jumping onto a nearby cliff only seconds before the plane crashes into a mountain, killing Khan. While M and General Gogol discuss the transport of the jewellery, Bond recuperates with Octopussy aboard her private boat in India.


Gary Russell plays one of the teenagers in the car that taunts Bond after refusing to give him a lift.[2]



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 and later editions of the collection), while Kamal Khan's reaction following the backgammon game is taken from Fleming's novel Moonraker.[3]

George MacDonald Fraser was hired to work on an early draft of the script and he proposed that the story be set in India, as the series had not yet visited said country.[4] The first draft was delivered shortly after the release of For Your Eyes Only,[3] whose writers Michael G. Wilson and Richard Maibaum went on to rework the script. They discarded his idea for the opening sequence, featuring a motorbike chase set at the Isle of Man TT, but still retained moments that producer Albert R. Broccoli had first criticized, where Bond dressed as a gorilla and later, a clown.[4]


Following For Your Eyes Only, Roger Moore had expressed a desire to retire from the role of 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 Timothy Dalton being suggested and tests being filmed with both Michael Billington and James Brolin. However, when the rival Bond production 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 former Bond, Sean Connery.[5]

Sybil Danning was announced in Prevue magazine in 1982 as being Octopussy, but was never actually cast, later explaining that Broccoli felt "her personality was too strong".[6] 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. Casting director Jane Jenkins revealed that the Bond producers told her that they wanted a South Asian actress to play Octopussy, so she looked at the only two Indians in a then predominantly white Hollywood, Persis Khambatta and Susie Coelho. Afterwards, she auditioned white actresses, like Barbara Parkins, who she felt could pass for Indian. Finally, Albert R. Broccoli announced to her that they would cast Swedish-born Maud Adams, who had been a Bond girl in The Man with the Golden Gun, and had been recently used by Eon to screen test the potential Bonds. To acknowledge the nationality, Adams had her hair darkened, and a few lines were added about how she was raised by an Indian family. A different plotline, with Adams' British father exposed as a traitor, was used instead.[7] The role of Magda went to another Swedish actress, Kristina Wayborn, who the producers first noticed playing Greta Garbo in the miniseries The Silent Lovers.[5]

Octopussy is also the first film to feature Robert Brown as M, following the death of Bernard Lee in 1981. Brown came recommended by Moore, who had known him since both worked in the series Ivanhoe.[8] The first actor to be cast in the film was Vijay Amritraj, a popular professional tennis player who Broccoli met watching The Championships in Wimbledon. His character of Bond's ally in India was also named Vijay and used a tennis racket as a weapon. For the villains, Broccoli brought in his friend Louis Jourdan as Kamal Khan, while his daughter Barbara suggested Steven Berkoff for Orlov after having seen him perform his own play, Greek, in Los Angeles.[5]


The filming of Octopussy began on 10 August 1982 with the scene in which Bond arrives at Checkpoint Charlie.[9] Principal photography was done by Arthur Wooster and his second unit, who later filmed the knife-throwing scenes.[10] Much of the film was shot in Udaipur, India. The Monsoon Palace served as the exterior of Kamal Khan's palace, while scenes set at Octopussy's palace were filmed at the Lake Palace and Jag Mandir, and Bond's hotel was the Shiv Niwas Palace.[5] In England RAF Northolt, RAF Upper Heyford and RAF Oakley were the main locations.[11] The Karl-Marx-Stadt railways scenes were shot at the Nene Valley Railway in Peterborough, while studio work was performed at Pinewood Studios and the 007 Stage.[12] Parts of the film were also shot in Hurricane Mesa, Hurricane-LaVerkin Bridge, and New Harmony in Utah.[13] Most of the crew as well as Roger Moore had diet problems while shooting in India.[1]

The pre-title sequence has a scene where Bond flies a nimble homebuilt Bede BD-5J aircraft through an open hangar.[10] Hollywood stunt pilot and aerial co-ordinator J.W. "Corkey" Fornof, who piloted the aircraft at more than 150 miles per hour (240 km/h), has said, "Today, few directors would consider such a stunt. They'd just whip it up in a computer lab."[14] Having collapsible wings, the plane was shown hidden in a horse trailer; however, a dummy was used for this shot.[15] Filming inside the hangar was achieved by attaching the aircraft to an old Jaguar car with a steel pole, driving with the roof removed.[10] 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 (10 cm) long.[5] Bond stole a Mercedes-Benz saloon car at a depot manned by antagonist soldiers, then as he tried to escape drove over barrier spikes which shredded his tyres. So he manoeuvred his vehicle's bare wheels onto the rails to pursue the train. During filming, the car had intact tyres in one scene so as to avoid any mishap.[15]

Stunt coordinator Martin Grace suffered an injury while shooting the scene where Bond climbs down the train to catch Octopussy's attention.[16] 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 which the team had not properly surveyed. Shortly afterwards, a concrete pole fractured Grace's left leg. The cyclist seen passing in the middle of a sword fight 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.[5] 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.[17]

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.[18] Like his fictional counterpart, the real Vijay had a distinct fear of snakes and found it difficult to hold the basket during filming.[5]


After being absent in For Your Eyes Only due to tax problems, John Barry returned to do his ninth Bond score.[19] Barry made frequent references to the James Bond Theme to reinforce Octopussy as the official Bond film, given that motif could not be featured in Never Say Never Again, and opted to include only subtle references to the music of India, avoiding instruments such as the sitar for feeling that authentic music "didn't work dramatically". He also wrote opening theme "All Time High" with lyricist Tim Rice. "All Time High", sung by Rita Coolidge, is one of seven musical themes in the James Bond series whose song titles do not refer to the film's title. "All Time High" spent four weeks at number one on the United States' Adult Contemporary singles chart and reached number 36 on the Billboard Hot 100.[18]

The soundtrack album was released in 1985 by A&M Records;[20] the compact disc version of this release 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, 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.[21]

Release and reception

Octopussy was the first Bond film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which had absorbed the previous films' distributor United Artists. The premiere took place at the Odeon Leicester Square on 6 June 1983, with Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales in attendance.[22] The film earned slightly less than For Your Eyes Only, but still grossed $187,500,000, with $67.8 million in the United States alone.[23] It also performed better than Never Say Never Again, the non-Eon Bond remake of Thunderball which was released a few months later and gathered $55 million in North America.[24] In Germany, it won the Golden Screen Award for selling over 3 million tickets.[25]

The film has received mixed reviews. The review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes has a 42% rating for Octopussy based on 45 reviews.[26] Writing for The New York Times, Vincent Canby praised the film, but noted how "much of the story is incomprehensible".[27] James Berardinelli claimed that the movie was long and confusing, and strongly criticised Steven Berkoff's performance, describing it as "offensively bad" and the worst performance of any Bond villain.[28] A particular point of contention are comedic scenes where Bond is dressed in a clown costume, a gorilla outfit and doing a Tarzan yell during a jungle chase.[29] As such, it frequently ranks low in rankings of James Bond films, such as the ones by Entertainment Weekly,[30] MSN,[31] and IGN.[32]

C.J. Henderson reviewed Octopussy in The Space Gamer No. 65.[33] Henderson commented that "there isn't a moment in the movie when we worry for the slightest instant that anything could happen to suave ol' James. Predictably, it doesn't. To kill Bond would be to lose the most bankable genre character ever brought to the movies."[33]

By contrast, the elegance of the film locations in India, and the stunts on aircraft and the train were appreciated.[34][35] GQ writer David Williams said Octopussy was "one of the best 'Bad Films' of the franchise", praising the entertaining characters but finding the silliness and Moore's advanced age problematic.[36] 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 (who 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."[37]

Maud Adams' performance was nominated for the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress.[38] The film won the Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing.[39]

Character reviews

In 2006 Fandango ranked the character Octopussy as one of the top 10 Bond girls, and described her as "a powerful, impressive woman."[40] Entertainment Weekly ranked her as the 10th worst Bond girl in one list in 2006,[41] but as the best "babe" of the Roger Moore James Bond films in another list in 2008.[42] A poll by Bond fans in 2008 elected Octopussy as the tenth worst Bond Girl.[43] Yahoo! Movies included the character in a 2012 list of the best Bond girl names, commenting, "This Bond girl moniker was so good, they named the film after her!"[44]

See also


  1. Hume, 121
  2. "Trivia - Octopussy". Mi6-HQ.com. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
  3. Barnes, Alan; Hearn, Marcus (2001). Kiss Kiss Bang! Bang!: the Unofficial James Bond Film Companion. Batsford Books. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-7134-8182-2.
  4. George MacDonald Fraser, The Light's On at Signpost, HarperCollins 2002 p234-246: Chapter "Shooting Script 8 - You Want to Put Bond in a Gorilla Suit?
  5. Inside Octopussy: An Original Documentary. Octopussy (Ultimate Edition): MGM Home Entertainment.
  6. "11 Questions With Sybil Danning". Battle Royale With Cheese. 7 May 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  7. Janet Hirshenson, Jane Jenkins (2007). A Star is Found: Our Adventures Casting Some of Hollywood's Biggest Movies. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. pp. 35–7. ISBN 0547545266.
  8. Moore, Roger (2012). Bond on Bond: The Ultimate Book on 50 Years of Bond Movies. Lyons Press. p. 278. ISBN 1843178850.
  9. "August: This Month in Bond History". Archived from the original on 5 August 2008. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
  10. Hume, Alan; Gareth Owen (May 2004). "Potted Palms". A Life Through the Lens: Memoirs of a Film Cameraman. McFarland & Company. p. 122. ISBN 0-7864-1803-6.
  11. "19 more top secret Bond locations around Britain". The Telegraph. 29 October 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  12. "19 top secret Bond locations around Britain". The Telegraph. 28 October 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  13. D'Arc, James V. (2010). When Hollywood came to town: a history of moviemaking in Utah (1st ed.). Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith. ISBN 9781423605874.
  14. Lunsford, J. Lynn (22 September 2006). "Filming air combat is as risky as a dogfight". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 12 August 2007.
  15. "Episode 2". Main Hoon Bond. Season 1. Episode 2. Mumbai. 54 minutes in. Star Gold.
  16. Hume, 124
  17. Hume, 125
  18. Burlingame, Jon (2012). The Music of James Bond. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 156–163. ISBN 978-019-986330-3.
  19. Fiegel, Eddi (2012). John Barry: A Sixties Theme: From James Bond to Midnight Cowboy. Faber & Faber. p. 207. ISBN 0571299113.
  20. "Octopussy soundtrack at Amazon". Retrieved 13 August 2007.
  21. "Filmtrack's editorial on the Octopussy soundtrack". Retrieved 13 August 2007.
  22. Moore, p. 210
  23. "Octopussy". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  24. "James Bond Movies at the Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  25. Octopussy (1984), Goldene Leinwand
  26. "Octopussy". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 3 March 2010.
  27. "JAMES BOND MEETS 'OCTOPUSSY'". The New York Times. 10 June 1983. Retrieved 21 August 2007.
  28. "Octopussy: Review on Reelviews". James Berardinelli. Retrieved 13 August 2007.
  29. "23 BEST (AND WORST) JAMES BOND MOVIES". E! Online. Retrieved 13 August 2007.
  30. Svetkey, Benjamin; Joshua Rich. "Countdown: Ranking the Bond Films". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 27 June 2009.
  31. Wilner, Norman. "Rating the Spy Game". MSN. Retrieved 27 June 2009.
  32. "James Bond's Top 20". IGN Entertainment. Archived from the original on 5 March 2009. Retrieved 27 July 2009.
  33. Henderson, C.J. (September–October 1983). "Capsule Reviews". The Space Gamer. Steve Jackson Games (65): 38–39.
  34. "Octopussy review". Variety. 10 June 1983. Retrieved 13 August 2007.
  35. Debbie Barham (30 August 2001). "Octopussy:Review". BBC. Retrieved 13 August 2007.
  36. David Williams (16 February 2015). "Why Octopussy is the best (and possibly worst) James Bond film". GQ. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  37. Danny Peary, Guide for the Film Fanatic (Simon & Schuster, 1986) pp.306–307
  38. 1984 Saturn Awards, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films
  39. 1984 Golden Reel Awards, Motion Picture Sound Editors
  40. The Top 10 Bond Girls - Fandango.com
  41. The 10 Worst Bond Girls | EW.com
  42. Nashawaty, Chris (12 December 2008). "Moore ... and Sometimes Less". Entertainment Weekly (1025). Retrieved 9 August 2011.
  43. "Denise Richards Voted Worst Bond Girl Ever". Zap2it. Retrieved 12 September 2010.
  44. James Bond at 50: the best Bond Girl names | Movie Editor's Blog - Yahoo! Movies UK

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