Released in the same year as the rival James Bond production Never Say Never Again (1983) which showcased the return of Sean Connery to the role. "Octopussy" made $187 million worldwide, "Never Say Never Again" $160 million.
Octopussy is the daughter of Major Dexter Smythe, who was allowed by James Bond to commit suicide rather than be captured when his crimes of embezzlement and murder were discovered. This is the only reference to Ian Fleming's original short story "Octopussy" in the movie. The Sotheby's auction scene comes from the Ian Fleming story "Property of a Lady." The scene of 009 trying to escape East Germany is an allusion to Fleming's "The Living Daylights." The line 'Spend the money quickly, Mr Bond' spoken by a villain who loses to Bond at a gambling table, is paraphrased from the Moonraker novel.
Kristina Wayborn as Magda says a romantic au revoir to James Bond by way of an elegant elegiac window exit. She actually performed this stunt herself, swirling down to the ground, her dress acting as her support and being unwound as she alighted safely to the ground. Weyborn's departure was filmed in two different locations: her fall from the balcony was filmed at Pinewood Studios in England and her landing was filmed on location in India.
Stuntman Martin Grace had a serious accident while filming on the train. Hanging on the side of it, the train went into a non-assessed area of the track and he rammed into a pylon, seriously damaging his leg and hip and hospitalizing him for several months. He made a full recovery. In a similar vein, the actor who uses the buzz saw yo-yo broke his arm when he fell over the balcony onto Octopussy's bed. Despite his injury and having to wear a cast, he insisted on completing the rest of his scenes.
The quip at the end of the opening sequence - "Fill her up" - was initially removed by John Glen. It was only when he went to his local cinema and caught the trailer for "Octopussy" (which included the line) and saw how well it went down with the audiences that he reinstated it.
Vijay Amritraj plays a snake charmer. In reality, Amritraj is terrified of snakes and was virtually unable to take part in any of the action. His character mentions this while disposing of the cobra in the basket by telling Bond "This was the wrong cover for me. I hate snakes."
Permission to shoot in the region of Udaipur had to be sought and granted from the reigning Royal Maharana Bagwat Singh. He would frequently entertain the A-list of the cast and crew at dinners during production where they would be served specially made Rose Wine.
Many production and story ideas and elements not used in the movie Moonraker (1979) ended up being utilized for this film. These included the knife throwing twins, the casting of Louis Jourdan as the villain and the Acrostar Bede jet sequence. The backgammon game was originally intended to take place in Max Kalba's club in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977).
Another actor was hired in addition to Vijay Amritraj when there was a dispute with Actor's Equity because Armitraj was not a member of the actor's union. However, Albert R. Broccoli asked his friend Leonard Goldberg to arrange a guest appearance for Vijay on Fantasy Island (1977) in order to receive SAG membership and subsequent Equity approval.
The Fabergé Egg as seen in the movie was actually the Imperial Coronation Egg designed by Peter Carl Fabergé. It was made 1897 to commemorate the 1894 Coronation of Tsar Nicholas II. The jeweled egg contains a model of a Coronation Coach; a guilloché field of starbursts with a translucent lime yellow enameling on the exterior surface; trellised greenish gold laurel leave bands have mounted at each intersection point an opaque black enamelled Imperial gold double-headed eagle with a rose diamond on their chest; on the top is a large portrait diamond with a cluster of ten smaller diamonds; and a smaller portrait diamond is set within a cluster of rose diamonds at the reverse end. The egg is also known as "Lilies of the Valley" but it is never called this in the film. Almost twenty years later the egg would re-appear in the movie Ocean's Twelve (2004).
The elephant hunt sequence had its origins in the The Man with the Golden Gun (1974). Producer Harry Saltzman had wanted an elephant stampede in the movie so Bond and Scaramanga could chase each other on elephant back. The rest of the creative team balked at the idea, but Saltzman went to see an elephant trainer. It turns out that elephants need a special shoe on their feet to protect them from rough surfaces when they work. A few months later, while filming in Thailand, Albert R. Broccoli got a call saying his elephant shoes were ready. Harry Saltzman had apparently ordered about 2,600 pairs of them. The sequence did not end up being in "The Man with the Golden Gun" and the man who made the shoes did not get paid. As of 1990, EON Productions allegedly still owed him.
During casting, James Brolin was almost given the role of James Bond when at the last minute, Roger Moore agreed to play Bond again. Brolin's screen tests can be seen on the DVD. Moore had gone out of contract after Moonraker (1979), and had agreed to return to the role one more time in For Your Eyes Only (1981). The production went with Moore because this film would be competing with Never Say Never Again (1983) starring original and former James Bond actor and legend Sean Connery. The uncertainty in using an American actor in the role and having to introduce a new actor in going-up against Connery were the reasons. In the meantime, Oliver Tobias, Michael Billington, Timothy Dalton and Ian Ogilvy had also been considered for James Bond.
The "Octopussy" short story was first published in Playboy Magazine being serialized two years after Fleming's death in the March and April 1966 editions. It was also the final James Bond short story written by Ian Fleming.
First James Bond movie to be released with the MGM Lion logo at the beginning. MGM merged with United Artists in 1982, the year before the release of Octopussy and this is the first Bond movie distributed by the new company, MGM/UA Distribution Co.
Though an Indian location had been previously mooted for Live and Let Die (1973), India only really became a choice when location scouts came across the city of Udaipur and its local leader allowed full co-operation and access to its architecturally stunning palaces.
Ramon Sanchez (Writer, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)) spoke to Octopussy producer Michael G. Wilson in the 1980's. Wilson related his concern that it could be the end of the James Bond Movie series pointing out that Sean Connery was returning as James Bond in other film/s not made by EON (Everything or Nothing) productions. He was careful not to reveal copyright material, so to help him, a concept was needed, that would beat anything that the opposing movie studio could come up with. Sanchez gave Wilson a concept that eventually made its way to the film: a female villain with a female criminal organization, running a circus as a front with a train. Wilson approved and then asked Sanchez how to resolve a hitch, a small problem in the story and a big problem in the screenplay. He explained that the Ian Fleming story was a short story of gold embezzlement and murder by a government man that James Bond cornered. That story was too short for a movie, and he could not justify calling this movie Octopussy if the concept for the film was not remotely close to the short story. He had to link the two stories together, make the result longer and squeeze it for all its got. Sanchez suggested that the woman lead be made not such an evil villain, but the daughter of the man in the story, Major Dexter Smythe, allowed by Bond to commit suicide rather than be captured, and that her father's pet name for her was Octopussy, tying in to the Octopussy title nicely. Make her Bond's love interest and the leading Bond Girl, and he had his story.
13th James Bond movie in the Eon Productions series and the sixth to star Roger Moore as James Bond. With this movie, Moore equaled the number of James Bond movies that original James Bond Sean Connery had made in the official series.
The literal translations of some of this film's foreign language titles include 007 Against Octopussy (Brazil and Portugal); Octopus (Finland); Operation Octopus (Italy) and 007 Averts The Plot (China)
The film's main title song "All Time High" sung by Rita Coolidge made it to the Top 40 in the USA charts. There it charted on 2 July 1983 and went to No. #36. But the song went to the No. #1 spot on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary Charts. A cover version of the song performed by Pulp can be heard on the David Arnold Bond song compilation album, "Shaken and Stirred: the David Arnold James Bond Project". Pulp once wrote a song for Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) which was not used for that movie.
An octopus is said to have inspired the title of the original Octopussy short story. Octopussy was also the name of a coracle given to Ian Fleming by friend, neighbor and lover Blanche Blackwell as a present for staying at Goldeneye. Ian Fleming derived the "Pussy" name itself from agent Pussy Deakin aka Livia Stela. The Octopussy name specifically is said to have been named after Fleming's pet octopus. Ian Fleming based the character of Pussy Galore in the novel (and later film) Goldfinger (1964) on Blanche Blackwell.
The black and white Octopus insignia was a symbol of SPECTRE, the criminal spy organization seen in other James Bond movies. However, in both the short story and movie Octopussy (1983) it has no connection to either story. Even if the producers had wanted to resurrect the Octopus symbol for this movie, the legal settlement with Kevin McClory gave him all the rights to the use of SPECTRE (see Never Say Never Again (1983)) and as such the black-and-white octopus insignia could not have been used in this movie. The type of octopus seen on the Octopussy girls' bodies was different: it was a blue ringed octopus. In the movie, this symbol was a sign of an old secret order of female bandits and smugglers.
A hand with a pair of eights in the card game Texas Hold 'Em Poker is called an "Octopussy". A hand with a pair of eights is actually seen in the later James Bond movie Casino Royale (2006) in which this card game is a major feature.
In the train-flying car stunt, when the car landed, one of the stunt men dressed as a fisherman only just made it out of the row boat in the lake where the car was landing. This footage can be seen in the finished film.
The character of Penelope Smallbone was named for one of the models who appeared in the opening credits to The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). At one point, Lois Maxwell flubbed a line and called her Penelope Smallbush, so that Roger Moore replied "We know where your mind has been, Moneypenny!"
The Acrostar Jet was 12 feet long with a single micro-turbo jet engine TRS-18. It could fly at 160 mph and soar at 310 mph and reach 30,000 feet with a climbing rate of 2500 feet per minute. It was piloted and owned by J.W. 'Corkey' Fornof of Louisiana who had been an uncredited aviation consultant on Moonraker (1979) and also worked on Licence to Kill (1989) as a pilot.
As Octopussy, the name she is only ever known by in the film, is identified as being the daughter of Major Dexter Smythe, Octopussy being a nickname, it can therefore be inferred that her real name is, at least her maiden last name / surname, would be Smythe.
A video game called "James Bond as seen in Octopussy" was developed by Capcom and Parker Brothers for the this film in 1984. It was designed for the Atari 2600/5200, Commodore 64 and ColecoVision platforms but was never released. If it had been, it would have been the first ever James Bond video game with an associated title with that of an actual James Bond film. This would not happen until the next movie in the series, A View to a Kill (1985).
One of Ian Fleming's James Bond source short stories for this movie, 1963's "The Property of a Lady" (a title acknowledged in the film via Jim Fanning's reference book) was set in Sotheby's auction house both in the book and film. The story was first published in their trade journal "The Ivory Hammer" before being printed in the back of the reissue of the Octopussy book. Ironically though, the two largest auctions of James Bond memorabilia ever held, on 17 September 1998 and 14 February 2001, were actually conducted by rival house Christie's.
The Octopussy character was originally intended to be a villainess and in the media at the time it was reported that Faye Dunaway was being considered for this part. Sybil Danning and Persis Khambatta were also contenders.
In a break with tradition, Roger Moore uses the Walther P-5 throughout much of the film, a replacement for the Walther PPK he loses in the bazaar chase. In the competing Bond film of the same year, Never Say Never Again (1983), Sean Connery also uses a P-5.
James Bond's aliases in the movie were Colonel Luis Toro during the opening sequence; Charles Morton, a Leeds furniture manufacturing representative; and as a clown during the film's finale. Of the three, the first and last involved disguises, the most ever for Roger Moore in a Bond movie. Also, this is the second highest number of aliases used by James Bond in a Bond movie, one less than the record of four held by Diamonds Are Forever (1971).
Kristina Wayborn broke several toes in her foot while shooting the attack on the Monsoon Palace by Octopussy's Circus. A bazooka she was to kick out of a thug's arms was supposed to be replaced with a plastic model, but the stuntman was holding a metal one by accident.
Some of the exterior scenes at the Circus (set in Germany), were actually filmed at the American Air force Base at Upper Heyford, England. This is especially seen when Bond is driving through the unguarded main gate, when he crashes through the barricade on the flight line, and the wide shot of the circus performer trailers. F-111 aircraft can be seen in the back round. These were the actual aircraft stationed at the base at that time.
The locomotive used in the film is the former DSB S 740, from the DSB (Danish State Railway). In total 20 (DSB S 720-740) of these engines were build between 1924-1928. It was built for the local traffic around Copenhagen, Hillerod and Helsingor. It weighed 98 tons and had a max speed at 90 km/h. DSB S 740 was sold to Mike Bradley in 1979, and it was used at The Nene Valley Railway, a preserved railway in Cambridgeshire, England, where the scenes with the train in this film are recorded. In 1995 it came back to Denmark and is now owned by the Nordsjællands Veterantog, a danish railroad society. In the movie the train is "disguised" as a German type DRG-Baureihe 62. But the last engine, 62 003 of this type, was retired in 1968.
Filming of the 12 foot Acrostar Jet as it flew through the hangar was achieved by attaching the aircraft to an old Jaguar by a steel pole with the roof torn off and driving along. The second unit were able to add obstacles such as people and objects to complete the illusion that Roger Moore was actually flying his tiny plane through an aircraft hangar. The exploding hangar pieces were four inches high.
The wristwatch with a television monitor is known as the "Liquid Crystal TV Seiko," model T001-5019. Two physical watches were supplied to the production. The screen on the retail version available to consumers was black and white only.
The film was released four months before Never Say Never Again (1983). This was the second of two times that two "James Bond" films were released in the same year. It previously occurred sixteen years earlier with Casino Royale (1967) and You Only Live Twice (1967).
Product placements, brand integrations and promotional tie-ins for this movie include Land Rover; Mont Blanc Pens; Seiko Watches including the Seiko TV and G757 Sports 100 watches; Enco (ExxonMobil); and Alfa Romeo, Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes cars.
The key image of this movie's poster had Octopussy entangling James Bond with eight arms as if they were eight tentacles. Each hand and arm was positioned in a different position around James Bond's tuxedo. The eight positions included an arm and hand doing the following: (1) Holding the Fabergé Egg (2) Grasping his gun (3) Holding a martini glass (4) Touching the back of his neck and left ear (5) Stroking his bow-tie (6) Pinching his coat button (7) Holding a knife and (8) Stroking the shirt on his chest.
Vehicles featured included an Acrostar Mini Jet aka a Bede Jet; yellow and black three-wheeled Indian Auto Rickshaw Tuk-Tuk Company Taxis; a dark gray metallic Alfa Romeo GTV 6 Quadrifoglio; a white Volkswagen Beetle or VW bug; various Mercedes makes including a black Mercedes-Benz 250 SE, Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman and Mercedes-Benz 240D; Kamal Khan's black Rolls Royce Phantom III car and private Beechcraft C-45 'Twin Beech' (twin-engine) Beech 18 airplane; Q's Hot Air Balloon; a one-person Crocodile water-vessel; five BMW 5 series sedans and a BMW motorcycle for the West German police vehicles; Octopussy's S-class steam Circus Train; Octopussy's ten-crewed lake barge; a Range Rover convertible; Army Truck and Willys jeep; GAZ-24 Volga driven by General Orlov when chasing Bond; and Aerospatiale SA 316B III Alouette and Aerospatiale SA-365C helicopters.
Ken Burns, an extra working on the film at the Nene Valley train location was allowed to film a Super-8 six minute movie of the filming at the Peterborough, England location. This movie, Ken Burns On-Set Movie (2006), is now available to view on the Ultimate Edition DVD of the movie. The short includes footage of Roger Moore and Michael G. Wilson and focuses on machinery and filmmaking mechanics. The sixteen year old extra was playing an East German Border Guard and lived near to the location. He was affectionately known on the set as the "3rd Unit". Note that Ken Burns should never be confused with celebrated American documentarian Ken Burns.
"Octopussy and The Living Daylights" was the 14th and the final Ian Fleming James Bond book published in 1966. Sometimes released as just "Octopussy", it was the second posthumous book in the series after "The Man With The Golden Gun". Before he died, Fleming had intended to produce a second book of James Bond short stories like the "For Your Eyes Only" collection.
The music video for the film's title song "All Time High" features Rita Coolidge at an Indian Palace which in reality is actually one of the movie's filming locations at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, East Sussex, England.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
The ending sequence with the Beech-18 aircraft was filmed in Utah, using an old rocket launch catapult. When the plane went over the edge, it was supposed to fly straight down, but instead, whilst full of explosives, turned right and flew in a circle unaided over a busy freeway, before crashing harmlessly. The actual crash into the ground was re-filmed with a model.
The first line of the Ian Fleming James Bond "Octopussy" short-story read: "'You know what?' said Major Dexter Smythe to the octopus. 'You're going to have a real treat today if you can manage it'." The last line read: "It is only from the notes of Dr. Graves, who performed the autopsy, that it has been possible to construct some kind of postscript to the bizarre and pathetic end of a once valuable officer of the secret service."