Double O Countdown: Octopussy

I have a fondness for this film that is out of proportion to it’s qualities. That fondness may stem from the circus theme, the Cold War plot, or maybe it is the Indian setting that dominates the movie. Anyway, this was the last good Roger Moore 007 outing. It went head to head with the Sean Connery starring “Never Say Never Again” rogue film in 1983, and it was the box office champ in that showdown. I like the posters for the movie as well. If you are interested in a post I did on the film for a blogathon last year, just click here. 

 001 The Clown Prince of James Bond Actors

Roger Moore just seems like a good sport to me. He was willing to make the movie the director and producers wanted, and he did not mind taking one for the team. As proof I offer the following.

Can you imagine Daniel Craig letting this happen to him?

Another 00 gets tracked down and killed early in the movie, trying to escape dressed as a clown. He manages to deliver the MacGuffin of the film, a Faberge Egg.

Late in the film, 007 needs to also blend into thecircus background he finds himself in, and lo and behold, he is done up the way the other agent was. Holy bookends! Well anyway it works for the story and the image of Bond saving the day from nuclear destruction as a clown probably fits most critics views of James Bond to begin with.

I give them credit for chutzpah anyway.

002 The Flying Guillotine

The only place I’d ever heard of a weapon like this was in some crazy Kung Fu movies from the 1970s. It may not make much sense but it is a lot of fun.

003 The Pre-Title Mini Jet

The opening of the film is an entirely self contained story that has nothing to do with the main plot. Bond is up to some spy business in Cuba and has to escape. Fortunately, he has a RV that he is towing which is perfect for the moment.

In one side of the building.

Out the other side.

And after blowing up the secret military operation and escaping, you discover you need fuel, no problem.

004 Kalashnikov on the Stairs

Many cool moments in Bond films are fleeting and feature James shooting a weapon in an unusual way. Like the shot of 007 sliding on his belly with a machine gun from “OHMSS”, this is just one of those fun moments. They also get in a Bond style joke .

To outfox the thugs on the first floor, Bond descends the stairway in an unconventional manner, with his gun blazing.

All is well until he notices the stop at the bottom of the stairs.

Its OK though, that’s the advantage of having a machine gun.

He just shoots it and it breaks off when he gets there. Smooth James, not enough ooos in smooth.

005 James Bond loves to get it on on a train. 

Bond is notorious for traveling by train, which makes some of his fights more interesting because of the close quarters. In this film, the close quarters are replaced by a open sky.

He gets smuggles himself aboard the circus train and confronts the deadly acrobat knife throwing team that killed his 00 predecessor on this assignment.

The struggle finally ends up on the roof of the train as it travels through East Germany.

It is one of the better action sequences in the Roger Moore films.

006 The Plane Fight

Not content to have mixed it up with secondary characters on a train, he ends up having a great fight on the outside of a plane when it is in the air. Again, this was terrific stuntwork.


The blue screen work matches up pretty well with the actual stunt.

007  I love the Cold War plot.

The movie was released in 1983. The Soviet Union was in a strong strategic position with conventional weapons in Eastern Europe. American policy moved to deploy theater nuclear weapons to balance out the  advantage the Soviets had. That move was controversial and was one of the factors behind the Nuclear Freeze movement of the time. This film plays off of real geopolitics of the moment. A rogue Russian General, is planning to detonate a nuclear device on a NATO base, which will be blamed on the U.S, resulting in a withdrawal of nukes from the theater and giving the Soviets an opportunity to invade.

The general cannot convince his superiors so he finances his plot with loot stolen from pre-revolutionary art collections

octoThe smuggler “Octopussy” thinks she is moving contraband jewels, but she has been fooled by a switch to a device hidden in the cannon of the human canonball in her circus, scheduled to visit a NATO base.

No honor among thieves.

James Bond will Return in

“A View to a Kill”

 

 

007 Double Feature At the Egyptian

For the second week in a row, I made it down to Hollywood to catch a classic on the big screen at the Egyptian Theater. Actually there were two classics, both James Bond films from the heyday of the 1960s. These are the two films that most turned 007 into a a massive popular cultural phenomenon and the most consistently successful film series of  all time. The pairing was irresistible to me and although I could occassionally hear the snickering of hipsters in the audience over the costumes in the movies or a piece of plot line that seems a little fantastic, the general response was one of love from the hundreds of us who managed to make it there and see the first and greatest James Bond, Sean Connery.

Goldfinger

It was just last June that I saw Goldfinger on the big screen along with another Sean Connery feature “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”. I can and do regularly watch this film. It is as entertaining as any movie you are likely to see and it is in my opinion the greatest of all the James Bond films. I won’t relive the entire countdown to Skyfall that I did in 2012, but there are a few posts that you might enjoy here.

This first is a memory piece and review that I did early in the year leading up to Skyfall.

http://kirkhamclass.blogspot.com/2012/03/goldfinger-double-0-blast-from-past.html

This is the KAMAD Video Blog that I posted after the Father’s Day visit to see 007 and Dr. Jones together.

http://kirkhamamovieaday.blogspot.com/2013/06/fathers-day-with-sean-connery.html

I did notice something a bit odd in last night’s screening. The end credit did not list the correct movie coming up next in the sequence.  Here is the way it looks in the DVD remaster from a half dozen years ago:

It properly lists “Thunderball” as the next film. On last night’s print the film listed was “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. Amanda and I talked about this and she is of the opinion that this was the original listing because they did not know that “Thunderball” would be next due to all the legal issues surrounding the property. I tended to agree with her except that “You Only Live Twice” came before “OHMSS” and “Thunderball” was released the year after “Goldfinger” so they should have been in production at the time they did release the third film. The answer according the IMDB is:

 In the original end title credits, which featured the famous “James Bond will return in…” teaser, the next film advertised was On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969). However, when the producers began pre-production, they were unable to secure the Swiss locations needed for the film and decided to make Thunderball (1965) instead. The end title teaser was later changed to advertise “Thunderball”.

 So that mystery is solved for the moment.

Thunderball

I don’t think I have a previous post exclusively on “Thunderball”.  I do however have this section of a post that I have copied over for you:

The original “Thunderball” was one of the biggest blockbusters of the 1960s. When adjusted for inflation it stands as the most financially successful of all the Bond movies. The audacity of Goldfinger was multiplied by a bigger canvas for the story telling. More exotic locations and bigger set pieces are put into place. As a kid I wanted the 007 lunchbox with all the frogmen fighting underwater. It was an image that sold all of us on the adventure we had coming. As far as I know, this is the first story to exploit the idea of nuclear terrorism. It was not of course the last. Here was SPECTRE as a real organization, with a board of directors and a chairman presiding over crime and doling out death as a punishment for failing the company. In a way, with all of the numbers, and secret locations and passwords or codes, it is the mirror image of MI6, and the bureaucracy that Bond actually represents.
There are great sequences in the picture and some real imaginative gizmos in the story. The jet-pack is just so outlandish that it gives the ejector seat a run for it’s money as the most over the top toys of 007 in the early films. The miniature breathing apparatus looks like it could be practical for emergencies. Bond gets taken for a ride in an early Mustang, he has an underwater version of the jet-pack, and he gets yanked into the sky forty years before Batman uses the same technology in “The Dark Knight”. The problems with the film have to do with pacing. A slog through the stuff at Shrublands, hide and seek in the Mardi Gras like parade in Jamaica, and the underwater battle looks cool but needed some editing. “Thunderball” is like one of those great Thanksgiving meals with so many choices, that are so rich and you want to try them all. When you do, you feel a little sick afterwards. “Thunderball” doesn’t exactly make me sick, but my blood sugar is usually a little high after I watch it. I should get up and go for a walk, but I usually just fall asleep contentedly. Another blogger El Santo, did a fantastic piece on the music from “Thunderball’, that goes way beyond the theme song. I hope he is OK with my linking it here, you should read and listen.

I will also mention that this film was one from my youth that I know gave me a nightmare or two. When Angelo Palazzi playing the doppelganger of Major François Derval gets stuck in the seat belt in the plane he just hijacked and landed in the ocean, Largo cuts his air hose and he drowns flailing away for help and oxygen. It gave me the creeps watching it and I dreamed about that death on more than one occasion. 

Sometimes there are little things that might slip by on the television screen that will not escape your attention on a screen thirty feet high and seventy feet wide. Last night I remembered one of those weird little details when the image came up for just a brief couple of seconds. There is a dog, taking a leak in the middle of a scene, and it either was too complicated to shoot it over or the editor just thought it was a lark and left it in. I went in search and fopund it on my DVD of the film and thought I’d share it with you here.

 As Bond is trying to escape in the confusion of the parade, two of his pursuers are bisected in this shot by a random animal lifting it’s leg and letting it out. Amanda missed it but I have now made sure that none of you reading this will ever miss it again. 

We have a long wait until the next James Bond film, but with a rich 50 year history and opportunities like this screening at the American Cinematique  at the Egyptian, we will always have plenty to talk about.