Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Octopussy (1983) **

PG, 131 min.
Director: John Glen
Writers: George MacDonald Fraser, Richard Maibaum, Micheal G. Wilson, Ian Fleming (stories “Octopussy” and “The Property of a Lady”)
Starring: Roger Moore, Maud Adams, Louis Jourdan, Krystina Wayborn, Kabir Bedi, Steven Berkoff, David Meyer, Anthony Meyer, Desmond Llewelyn, Robert Brown, Lois Maxwell, Michaela Clavell, Walter Gotell, Vijay Amritraj, Albert Moses

Sochi has inspired me to watch some Russian themed movies. First up, “Octopussy”. Huh? Yes, one of the least impressive James Bond movies sees the end of The Cold War coming and invents a plot where a Russian general bent on keeping up the image of Soviet strength is caught up in a counterfeiting ring to raise money for and implement a war by detonating a nuclear devise on an American military base located in Germany. It’s all done under the cover of a Circus run by the mysterious Octopussy, who is apparently a pawn in the game.

Not only is “Octopussy” one of the “dregs” of the James Bond franchise according to a friend who is a fan, but it also sports the worst title of the series (yes, even worse than “Quantum of Solace”) and possibly one of the worst film titles of all time.

It’s problems start with the fact that Roger Moore is officially past his sell by date as Bond starting with this movie. He would appear in one more after this. He was already a little long in the tooth with the previous Bond “For Your Eyes Only”, but that one sported one of the best scripts and plots of his seven film run as the British superspy. “Octopussy”, culled together from two of Ian Fleming’s lesser-known short stories, does not sport either a good script or plot. It also employs Louis Jourdan as its primary villain, Kamal Khan, the puppet master who double crosses everyone. Jourdan’s previous major role was as Dr. Anton Arcane in the ultra campy “Swamp Thing”.

Still “Octopussy” is a James Bond adventure, which somehow endears it to me more than most campy films. Yes, he tells a tiger to “Sit!” and it does. Yes, he kills a man with a fake crocodile body. Yes, watching Moore kiss some of the girls in this movie is kind of like watching them kiss their own grandfather. But, it’s Bond, baby! You can’t knock the cinematic tradition of it all. He’s still a super cool spy. And, the movie is still filled with spectacular stunts, even though it’s more than obvious that that isn’t Roger Moore hanging upside down from that inverted plane.

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