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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

OCTOPUSSY (1983)

In stark contrast to recent James Bond pics (aiming at serious/ settling for dour), Roger Moore’s penultimate turn as 007 must be the most lighthearted of the series. And none the worse for it. The ridiculous plot has a rogue Russian General trying to pin a nuclear explosion on the US with help from Louis Jordan’s mysterious Fabergé Egg collector. With a plot more picaresque than political, and stunts more human-scaled than usual (the traditional pre-credit action sequence is a particular treat), the film develops relaxed glamor & what-the-hell swank. (Though art direction & color design are hideous enough to notice.) Politically correct it ain’t: Jourdan as Indian Prince? Moore weaponizing snake charmers; walks on burning coal; a borrowed sword from a sword swallower; and using a bed of nails to 'nail' a villain? Yikes! Still, Jourdan & Moore make a bemused pair of rivals. (As if they’d just come from a croquet match off the set.) If only the femmes fatales were better. One of them earns a pass for being crowned Miss Sweden (watch her confuse kissing with lunch), but what to make of Maud Adams’ Octopussy? She’s been Bonded in MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN/’73 (one of the weakest entries), but here she can barely read a line of dialogue or share a look with the still charming Mr. Moore. Whatever the case, the film, while a hit, was considered poor enough for a toughened up reboot on A VIEW TO A KILL/’85, with Moore suddenly out of his comfort zone then out of the series.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: How did Jourdan keep a straight face while saying ‘Octopussy, Octopussy” to the doubting Maud Adams? Oscars® have been won for less.

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