ROGER MOORE IS AGENT 007
Director John Glen provides a few enticing clues to the superspy's latest mission and reflects on the biggest Bond year of them all.
By DON MCGREGOR
Who.. .or what...is an Octopussy?
Come June, people might well be wondering, as this provocative title appears in newspaper movie sections and in 30-second TV commercial spots.
On June 14th, they’ll have the answer: Octopussy is Albert “Cubby” Broccoli’s thirteenth James Bond film, the last remaining Fleming/Bond book to be made into a movie.
For the uninitiated in Bondian folklore, Octopussy is not a mutated female creature from some absurdly improbable gene-splicing experiment. In Ian Fleming’s novelette, published in 1966, Octopussy is the pet name that Major Dexter Smythe gives to an octopus who inhabits the coral reef near his Jamaican estate. The Octopussy is a manifest death lure, yet also a promise of escape from punishment and disgrace for one terrible, lethal act in Smythe’s past.
When Octopussy was released in hardcover, another Bond story, “The Living Daylights,” was included. A third story was added when Octopussy premiered in paperback (1967)—“The Property of a Lady,” which first appeared in the United States in Playboy magazine. (For completists, “The Living Daylights” originally surfaced in Argosy magazine as “Berlin Escape.” “The Living Daylights” was probably a little too subtle a title for the editors at Argosy.)
Still, all of this information doesn’t explain what an Octopussy might be in the new Bond film; Major Smythe and his pet octopus are apparently gone....
John Glen, who directed For Your Eyes Only, began filming this newest Bond caper on August 10, 1982. The movie crew was on location in West Berlin at the infamous Berlin Wall, the prime locale of “The Living Daylights.” The first scene before the cameras involved Roger Moore, reprising his 007 role for the sixth time, and Robert Brown, replacing the late Bernard Lee, as M.
Director Glen is a lean, charming man, articulate and genial, and a man who displays a genuine passion for James Bond. He promises that Octopussy will have a more involved storyline than the recent Bond films have had. Octopussy also features the expected action, with cliffhanger situations and death-defying feats and, as an added attraction, a double-cross that he describes as “tremendous.”
“Octopussy is very relevant to the current situation in Moscow,” Glen reveals, in his pleasantly dry voice, like a Martini shaken not stirred. “When we were writing the plot for Octopussy, we had little idea that it would be virtually the truth. There is a big scandal in Moscow about the State Circus. Brezhnev’s son-in-law was involved in the scandal. The State Circus was being used to smuggle jewelry into Russia. In other words, they were taking payment, presumably, from the various places they performed, but they didn’t take money, they took jewelry. They raided this guy’s flat and found a million dollars worth of gems.
Photo: Maud Adams returns to the world of Bond as Octopussy, leader of an International smuggling organization.
Photo: Left: Roger Moore as Bond jumps Into action in one of the many exotic locales used. Above: Disguised as a clown, 007 tries to discover what happened to 009.
Photo: One of Octopussy’s deadly agents.
Photo: Louis Jourdan as the ruthless Kamal Khan.
Photo: Lois Maxwell as Miss Monneypenny.
Photo: Octopussy relaxes in her home, above. Right: Roger Moore spells out Bond’s code number, displaying his Licence To Kill.
“And by some strange coincidence, that’s part of our story,” Glen says, bemused by the crossing lines of fact and fiction.
George MacDonald Fraser, author of the Flashman books (one of them, Royal Flash, was filmed by Richard Lester), drafted an original screenplay. Richard Maibaum (who discusses his Bond work on page 24) and Michael G. Wilson worked on the final screenplay.
John Glen details how the plotline for an 007 epic is worked out with more than one writer. He met with “Cubby” Broccoli in Los Angeles to discuss the new direction for Octopussy. Fraser was also included in the conference; veteran series writer Maibaum was later called in to add his special Bond touch.
Behind the Title
Still and all, who.. .or what.. .is an Octopussy'!
Octopussy is a person, played by Maud Adams, but it is also much more. Of note here is the fact that Maud Adams is the only actress to reappear in a starring role in the 007 series. She was also in the lower-grade, looney tunes Bond film, The Man With the Golden Gun. Adams portrayed the villainous Scaramanga’s mistress. Scaramanga was played by most moviegoers’ favorite Dracula, Christopher Lee. (Lee, just as a passing note, is a relative of the late Ian Fleming and was once considered to play Doctor No.)
John Glen divulges more of the identity of Octopussy, whetting the appetites for Bond fanatics. “The basis of the film is the organization Octopussy, run by Maud Adams. She uses the circus to get behind the Iron Curtain to smuggle jewelry from the Kremlin. She markets it in the West. This circus is misused by Kamal Khan, played by Louis Jourdan, and also misused by a certain Kremlin general, who tries to smuggle a nuclear weapon into the West.”
Principal photography was scheduled to be completed the week after Christmas. Three weeks were spent filming in Udaipur, India—a new, exotic locale which Glen found especially exciting. White marble palaces thrust skyward from a small chain of islands. Roof gardens give way to splendid views of the countryside. Bond seldom travels second class.
“It’s one of the fantastic spots on earth,” Glen says, with an enthusiasm that India’s travel brochures would love. “It’s well worth a visit sometime.”
India and the circus are not used merely as backdrops; both are integral parts of the drama. In fact, in one sequence, the Octopussy Troupe, an all-female team, storms a castle fortress.
Bond’s boss, M, was absent from For Your Eyes Only, as a result of Bernard Lee’s death while the film was being made. The role, however, has been recast for Octopussy in the form of Robert Brown.
“We looked for someone with the same background as Bernard Lee, and we found Robert who was actually his colleague,’’ Glen says. “He had worked with Bernard many times. They come from a similar background. It’s amazing that we haven’t thought of him before, actually,”
Action fans are undoubtedly wondering what extraordinary stunts await them in this new Bond film—what frenetic chases, what cliffhanger deathtraps will fill the screen.
Bob Simmons, action-sequence coordinator, Remy Julienne, stunt driving expert, and a marvelous assortment of stunt people are doing their damnedest to bring new excitement and cinematic wonder to this latest Bond film.
• A chase on a railway involving steam trains.
• A dangerous car to train transfer.
• The freefall boys from Moonraker are back, climbing around on the outside of an airplane.
And that’s only a few of the thrills awaiting viewers when Octopussy is released.
Q fans will be pleased to note that Desmond Llewelyn returns, offering several new fantastic gadgets to keep Bond amused. Lois Maxwell, the perennial Miss Moneypenny, is also back in this adventure.
The pre-credit sequences in Bond films have always had their own special impact, wild and extravagant, setting the tone for what will follow in the main body of the film. They are often more spectacular than the climactic scenes of other action movies.
The Bond people keep abreast of the newest technological advances, and in Octopussy’s pre-title sequence, they utilize a tiny aircraft known as a Bede jet, one powered by a single jet engine: a Micro-turbo TRS-18. It has amazing aerial capabilities. The Bede jet used in Octopussy is called Acrostar. It is the only one in existence.
Glen reveals how the Bond team finds such new, wildly stimulating gadgets and machines. “We tend to get a lot of technical people who are developing ideas who contact us. People come to us, quite often. We go down to look at their machine which has been built and discuss the possibility of using it.”
As with For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy will be played essentially straight, laced with bits of Bondian humor. The sense of buffoonery—which dominated such Bond productions as The Man With The Golden Gun and Moonraker—is gone.
“We’re sticking with the format that we’ve come back to,” Glen firmly states, “using, more or less, From Russia, With Love for style. We’re staying with that straight-down-the-line narrative. We are not cheating. We will not press a button and have a miracle happen. Bond has to do it for real, and he might have to suffer.”
This approach is much more in keeping with the spirit and special appeal that Ian Fleming’s Bond had—and still has—for readers. Bond might face improbable events, but they are presented with such subjective detail that they become agonizingly real. Bond endures and, through this talent for endurance, survives the most diabolical of death traps.
John Barry did not compose the music for For Your Eyes Only because of problems encountered with the British tax system. He has primarily been scoring films made in America, but there is still a slight chance that he may score Octopussy. At least, his participation in the project has not been ruled out*.
A Pair of Bonds
This summer, as this issue of STARLOG points out, there will be double 007s. The original Bond (Sean Connery) returns in Never Say Never Again (a remake of Thunderball), directed by Irvin Kershner, who helmed The Empire Strikes Back (see page 35).
The decision has been made to release Never Say Never Again (a reference to Connery’s refusal to reprise Bond after Diamonds Are Forever, perhaps too obscure an in-joke for general audiences) in direct competition with Octopussy. Since there is normally only one Bond film released every two years, a simultaneous debut seems a silly notion, one that could be potentially dangerous for both films. Perhaps someone thinks there is money to be made by pitting Connery-Bond against Moore-Bond.
John Glen is not aware of the opening date for the competing film.
“We don’t even bother to ask,” Glen reveals, amiably, adding, “They started filming after us, and they aren’t wasting any time.
“The only reason that I can imagine that they would want to come out at the same time as us, is there might be some advantage, possibly, in people being confused between the two pictures... and not knowing which film they’re seeing, either.” He laughs quietly at the possibility.
Glen is more reflective when he discusses the effect which simultaneous openings could have on the duo of Bond films, but it is calm reflection, quiet introspection, without bitterness. He wonders if the hardcore Bond fans will be able to afford seeing both films.
“Whether or not they will go to see both movies if they’re released at the same time,” he muses, “I don’t know. There’s only so much money for the box office. It depends on what else is around.”
* * *
It’s a shame that the two James Bonds must be gladiators, hammering away at each other. It is a wonderful anticipation for Bond enthusiasts: that Sean Connery will be back playing Bond; it’s much like a fond friend returning after years of absence. A nd it is also wonderful anticipation for Bond fans that “Cubby” Broccoli, Bond’s film father who kept 007 alive, when the critics had predicted his premature death at the box office, has returned the series to its early origins, that fine balance of wit and intrigue, as Roger Moore once again portrays the superspy.
But the gladiators are poised on the brink of a summer arena, ready to bloody one another. Even the victor in such senseless battles is usually scarred.
And, all in all, it is a senseless battle, because when all the furor has calmed, when all the blood has dried on the arena dust, it will be another long wait, perhaps of two years or more, before Bond lovers see the next adventure of Agent 007.
[Source: Starlog Magazine #68, March 1983, P16-19,P64]
* In the end John Barry did score Octopussy.