With a competing Bond film on the horizon producer Albert R. Broccoli felt it necessary to make the most accessible Bond film yet. In Octopussy James Bond travels to India for the first time in attempt to find the killers of 009.
Bond escaping Cuba
In Cuba James Bond (Roger Moore) sneaks into a military base to sabotage a new radar system. However 007 is caught before he can set the charges and is forced to escape capture and use his getaway vehicle (a fold-able airplane) to destroy the entire hanger in which the radar system resided in.
In East Berlin 009 dressed as a clown is chased from a circus by twin knife throwers. After being knifed in the back the agent barely makes it to the English Embassy delivering a faberge egg before he dies. In London M (Robert Brown) and Sir Frederick Gray (Geoffrey Keen) inform about the the fake egg the late 009 had delivered and that several other eggs have appeared for auction without any known source. With an faberge egg expert Bond is sent to the auction to find the seller.
The Russian planning room
General Gogol (Walter Gotell) argues with General Orlov (Steven Berkoff) at the Russian counsel that working with NATO does not weaken the defenses of Russia. Orlov proposes a defyense of NATO and a full scale invasion of the rest of Europe. Gogol and the rest of the counsel deny Orlov’s plan. Orlov leaves for vault in which the curator tells him that they need the real egg back for an inventory. Orlov speaks of a contact that will retrieve it in time.
Back in London Bond begins unauthorized bidding on an Egg (which he switched with the fake) and discovers that Kamal Khan (Louis Jordan) is also attempting to get the egg. With Kamal leaving to India with the fake egg Bond follows and meets up with his contact Vijay (Vijay Amritraj) who takes Bond to his hotel and tells Bond that Kamal can be found playing backgammon in the hotel casino.
Bond and Vijay
At the hotel Bond watches Magda (Kristina Wayborn), who was with Kamal at the auction, board a ship bearing a flag with an octopus on it. That afternoon Bond meets up with Kamal and bets with the real faberge egg. Bond then exposes the fact that Kamal is using loaded dice and wins both the money and the egg. Outside Kamal’s henchmen Gobinda (Kabir Bedi) attempts to kill both Bond and Vijay who lead them through a chase of the streets of New Dehli. With their escape Vijay and Bond meet up with Q (Desmond Llewelyn) at his secret workshop. Q installs a homing device and a microphone into the real faberge egg and gives Bond the receiver.
That night Magda gives Bond an ultimatum from Kamal for the egg. Bond charms his way into bed with Magda and discoveres her Octopussy tattoo. She then steels the egg and escapes with Kamal right before Gobinda knocks Bond out. The next day Kamal travels to Octopussy’s (Maud Adams) private island and gives her the real egg. Kamal tells her about Bond which she tells Kamal not to kill Bond.
At Kamal’s palace Bond wakes up and is escorted to dinner with Kamal and Magda. After being threatened with torture Bond is locked back in his room. Using the acid pen Q gave him Bond escapes as a helicopter containing General Orlov arrives. With the microphone in the egg Bond listens in on their conversation and observes Orlovs men taking the real egg and other assorted jewelry onto his helicopter. While hiding Bond is trapped in the dead body room and is loaded onto a truck to be thrown out. Kamal discovers that Bond has escaped and sends all his men out into the jungle to find him.
Back in Q’s workshop Bond is informed about Octopussy who lives on her own private island. Using an alligator disguise Bond sneaks onto the island and meets with Octopussy (a jewelry smuggler) who reveals that her father was once an MI6 agent that Bond had to bring in but committed suicide before he could. After Kamal realizes that Octopussy is helping Bond he hires some thugs to kill Bond.
The next day Octupussy tells Bond that all of her girls are specially trained by her to be expert fighters and smugglers. By night Q lets Vijay take over the watch waiting for Bond to return as he discovers that Octupussy also runs her own circus. While Bond and Octopussy sleep together the thugs that Kamal hired Kill Vijay and sneak onto the island and attempt to kill Bond. During the skirmish Octopussy believes that Bond is eaten by an alligator. Back on the shore Bond and Q discover Vijay’s body.
Orlov hunting Bond
Bond follows Kamal and Octopussy’s circus to East Berlin. At the circus Bond finds Orlov who Bond follows the next day. In Moscow General Gogol discovers that Orlov has stolen the jewels that Octopussy is now helping smuggle across to West Berlin. Bond follows the real jewels to where Orlov and Kamal’s men switch the jewels for a nuclear device unknown to Octopussy. The bomb before Bond can catch up so he stays with the jewelry attempting to be stolen by General Orlov. Bond captures Orlov and finds out that his plan was to set off the bomb in the assumption that everyone would believe that it was an American nuclear accident leaving room for Orlov to invade the rest of Europe with the American’s crippled.
Fighting on top of the train
With luck Orlov escapes leaving Bond in a mad dash to get to the bomb before it goes off. Before the train crosses over the border to West Germany Bond catches up as General Gogol finds the real jewels in the crashed car that Bond took. Gogol and his men shoot Orlov as he runs across the border. Back on the train Kamal activates the bomb. Bond fights Gobinda and the last knife throwing twin attempting to get to the bomb but is forced to jump off.
As the circus prepares for the days performance on the American air base Kamal and Gobinda leave as 007 hitchhikes his way to the circus. Finally making it to the circus and being chased by germany police and the MP’s Bond disguises himself as a clown and enter the big top. There he convinces Octopussy that Kamal double crossed her and that there is bomb. At the last second Bond deactivates the device
Bond hanging on
Angry Octopussy takes her female assassins and storms Kamal’s castle in New Delhi. In the attempt of killing Kamal herself Octopussy is caught by Kamal. At the same time Bond arrives by hot air balloon and gives chase to a nearby airport. As the plane is taking off Bond jumps onto the back of the plane. After throwing Gobinda off the plane Octopussy and Bond jump off before Kamal crashes it into a cliff.
Once again the issue of who will play James Bond comes into question. With the completion of For Your Eyes Only Roger Moore’s contract was finished causing Cubby Broccoli to renegotiate with the actor. As production continued on Octopussy a deal still hadn’t been struck. Other actors were seen for the part including Michael Billington who was in the pre credits sequence of The Spy Who Loved Me. For the screen tests Maud Adams was called in to help with the James Bond hopefuls which included James Brolin. Eventually Roger Moore signed on to play the role at the last minute. It wasn’t until then that Maud Adams actually realized that she had been cast as Octopussy making her the only leading lady into two James Bond films.
The next hurtle was the name of the film. Much of the cast and crew including Maud Adams felt reservations about the title of the film fearing that it was too vulgar. On the producers side they were concerned that it would be censored in America and that they wouldn’t be able to show the film under the name Octopussy. The main thrust of the argument for the title was that it was the name of one of Ian Fleming’s short stories. With that much of the concerns everyone had were sedated.
The floating castle in India
The production team began primilary location scouting in India and found the city of Udaipur which seemed to provide every location they would need within a fifteen minute drive of a single hotel. In 1982 filming started on Octopussy at the Berlin Wall at the height of the Cold War. During filming the crew became nervous with all the East German guards watching the shoot very closely.
The Plane rig
Filming continued with the pre titles sequence and the airplane stunt that was originally written for Moonraker. To create the effect the team used miniatures in combination with an actual hanger. The miniature was placed near the camera about sixty yards from the hanger creating the effect that the small airplane was the real one entering the hanger. To create the interior hanger shots the actual jet was placed on a rig that held the jet in place as it drove across the floor of the hanger. It was so safe that Roger Moore was actually put in the plane for the stunt.
In the United States filming continued on Octopussy’s final fight on the side of an airplane. Stuntman B.J. Worth was hired to find out if the stunt was even possible. With the help of Jake Lombard the two of them rigged their clothes with hidden parachutes and special hand holds on the plane. The plane was also designed with a special door that could be removed and replaced mid flight so that the stuntmen could take off in the plane crawl out, do their stunts, and then crawl back in with no hassle.
Stuntman Martin Grace
Martin Grace doubled for James Bond for the train stunt work and rehearsed the scene for several weeks before bringing in the helicopter and shooting crews. The first day of shooting went slow due to bad weather but on the second day a piece of concrete railing slammed into the stuntman. With a broken rib, a broken leg, and much of the meat of his thigh missing Grace was able to hang onto the moving train. For six months Martin Grace was hospitalized and was continually visited by Roger Moore and producer Cubby Broccoli. The devastating accident nearly crippled the production of Octopussy. Director John Glen was able to rehire a stuntman to take Grace’s place and re energized everyone to keep shooting the film.
Shooting in India
With much of the major stunt work done the production team moved to India in September and started shooting the taxi chase which was hindered by the local crowds. They would pack themselves in wall to wall to watch the shooting making it impossible to pull of the scenes necessary to complete the film. During shooting a man on a bicycle drove right in the middle of the fight. John Glen actually liked the shot and kept it in the film.
dealing with the snakes
Filming continued with the hiring of local snake charmers who needed translators to properly communicate with. With the cast worried they eventually discovered that they had been working with poisonous snakes who hadn’t been completely drained of their venom. It didn’t help issues that the snakes kept escaping.
Shooting the final battle scene in November the barely dressed women had to deal with the freezing could temperatures of Pinewood Studios. Another concern was that the film was picking up every one’s breath.
In 1983 Octopussy was released to a record breaking box office even though it still earned slightly less than the previous film For Your Eyes Only. The bigger victory for producer Albert R. Broccoli was that the film out performed Never Say Never Again which was released only months later.
However in the end Octopussy is still considered one of the weaker Bond films with it’s confusing plot, boring villain, and over the top humor.