Released in the same year as the rival Warner Brothers James Bond production Never Say Never Again (1983), which showcased the return of Sir Sean Connery to the role. This movie earned one hundred eighty-seven million dollars worldwide, Never Say Never Again (1983) earned one hundred sixty million dollars.
The Fabergé Egg, as seen in the movie, was based on the Imperial Coronation Egg designed by Peter Carl Fabergé. It was made in 1897 to commemorate the 1896 Coronation of Czar Nicholas II. The jewelled egg contains a model of a Coronation Coach; a guilloché field of starbursts with a translucent lime yellow enamelling 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 actual Coronation Egg was yellow in color. The egg reappeared in Ocean's Twelve (2004).
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.
During casting, James Brolin was almost given the role of James Bond, when at the last minute, Sir Roger Moore agreed to play Bond again. Brolin's screentests 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 movie would be competing with Never Say Never Again (1983), starring original and former James Bond actor, Sir Sean Connery. The uncertainty in using an American actor in the role, having to introduce a new actor, and 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 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 special shoes on their feet to protect them from rough surfaces when they work. A few months later, while filming in Thailand, Producer Albert R. Broccoli got a call saying his elephant shoes were ready. Saltzman had ordered about twenty-six hundred 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.
Kristina Wayborn (Magda) says a romantic "au revoir" to James Bond, by way of an elegant elegiac window exit. She 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.
The quip at the end of the opening sequence, "Fill 'er up", was initially removed by Director John Glen. It was only when he went to his local cinema and caught the trailer (which included the line), and saw how well it went down with the audiences, that he reinstated it.
Many production and story ideas and elements, not used in Moonraker (1979), ended up being utilized for this movie. 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).
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 novel, "Moonraker".
Vijay Amritraj played 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. I hate snakes."
The short story was 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.
The black and white Octopus insignia was a symbol of S.P.E.C.T.R.E., the criminal spy organization seen in other James Bond movies. However, in the short story and this movie, 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 of the rights to the use of "S.P.E.C.T.R.E.", 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 this movie, this symbol was a sign of an old secret order of female bandits and smugglers.
In the train-flying car stunt, when the car landed, one of the stuntmen 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 movie.
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 this movie, and this is the first Bond movie distributed by the new company, MGM/UA Distribution Company, Inc.
Writer Ramon Sanchez spoke to Producer Michael G. Wilson in the 1980s. Wilson related his concern that it could be the end of the James Bond film franchise, pointing out that Sir Sean Connery was returning as James Bond in other movie not made by EON Productions. He was careful not to reveal copyrighted material, so to help him, a concept was needed, that would beat anything, with which the opposing movie studio could come up. Sanchez gave Wilson a concept that eventually made its way to the movie: 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 movie 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 it had. 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.
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.
Filming of the twelve-foot Acrostar Jet, as it flew through the hangar, was achieved by attaching the aircraft by a steel pole to an old Jaguar, with the roof torn off, and driving along. The second unit was able to add obstacles, such as people and objects, to complete the illusion that Sir Roger Moore was actually flying his tiny plane through an aircraft hangar. The exploding hangar pieces were four inches high.
Several actors were screentested for the lead role, as it was felt that Sir Roger Moore was too old, at fifty-five, to play James Bond again. However, the producers ultimately decided to retain Moore, as this movie would be going up against Never Say Never Again (1983), starring Sir Sean Connery.
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.
The Blue-ringed octopus is highly venomous. It produces Tetrodotoxin, which it uses in self-defense. Tetrodotoxin is also found in puffer fish. One milligram of the toxin can kill a person, and there is no known antidote.
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, while full of explosives, turned right, and flew in a circle unaided over a busy freeway, before crashing harmlessly. The crash into the ground was re-filmed with a model.
In a break with tradition, Sir Roger Moore used the Walther P-5 throughout much of this movie, a replacement for the Walther PPK he loses in the bazaar chase. In Never Say Never Again (1983), Sir Sean Connery also used a Walther P-5.
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, Producer Albert R. Broccoli asked his friend Leonard Goldberg to arrange a guest appearance for Vijay on Fantasy Island (1977) in order to receive Screen Actors Guild membership and subsequent Equity approval.
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 this movie's finale. Of the three, the first and last involved disguises, the most for Sir Roger Moore in a Bond movie. Also, this is the second highest number of aliases used by James Bond , one less than the record of four held by Diamonds Are Forever (1971).
The character of Penelope Smallbone was named after 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 Sir Roger Moore replied "We know where your mind has been, Moneypenny!"
The main title song, "All Time High", sung by Rita Coolidge, made it to the Top 40 on the U.S. charts. There, it charted on July 2, 1983, and went to number thirty-six. But the song went to the number one spot on the U.S. 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.
Some of the exterior scenes at the Circus (set in Germany), were filmed at the U.S. Air Force Base in 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 background. These were the aircraft stationed at the base at that time.
"Be at least twenty miles away when it goes off", warns the Soviet officer who instructs Gobinda about the atomic bomb. While that is certainly good advice, the surface detonation of a one hundred kiloton nuclear weapon would be easily survivable already at one third of that distance, and even closer if you knew of it in advance, and took minor precautions. For a weapon that size, the five-PSI air blast radius, where most residential buildings would be blown apart, "only" goes out to a radius of some twenty-four hundred meters (one and a half miles). The thermal radius, where you'd get third degree burns, if caught in the open, is about four thousand meters (two and a half miles). On the other hand, you had better stay upwind. This being a surface burst, you could get severely irradiated even around seventy-two kilometers (forty-five miles) away after a few hours, if caught in the main plume.
The literal translations of some of this movie's foreign language titles include: 007 Against Octopussy (Brazil and Portugal); Octopus (Finland); Operation Octopus (Italy), and 007 Averts The Plot (China).
Though an Indian location had been previously touted 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.
The pre-title sequence has a scene where Bond flies a nimble homebuilt Bede BD-5J aircraft through an open hangar. Hollywood Stunt Pilot, and Aerial Coordinator, J.W. "Corkey" Fornof, who piloted the aircraft at more than one hundred fifty miles (two hundred forty-one kilometers) per hour, has said, "Today, few directors would consider such a stunt. They'd just whip it up in a computer lab." Having collapsible wings, the plane was shown hidden in a horse trailer. However, a dummy was used for this shot. Filming inside the hangar was achieved by attaching the aircraft to an old Jaguar with a steel pole, driving with the roof removed. The second unit was able to add enough obstacles, including people and objects inside the hangar, to hide the car and the pole, and make it look as though Sir Roger Moore was flying inside the base. For the explosion after the mini jet escapes, however, a miniature of the hangar was constructed and filmed up close. The exploding pieces of the hangar were only four inches in length.
The two primary gadgets Bond receives from Q (a pen containing acid, and a watch with video capability) are similar to two gadgets given to Evelyn Trimble, a.k.a. James Bond, in Casino Royale (1967). Bond even repeats the same "poison pen letter" joke that invited eyerolls in the earlier movie.
This movie contains at least four veterans of the Star Wars film franchise: Bruce Boa, (General Riekan from Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)), Richard LeParmentier, (General Motti from Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)), Dermot Crowley, (General Madine from Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)), and Jeremy Bulloch, (Boba Fett).
Thirteenth James Bond movie in the Eon Productions franchise, and the sixth to star Sir Roger Moore as Bond. With this movie, Moore equalled the number of Bond movies that Sir Sean Connery had made in the official franchise.
"Octopussy and The Living Daylights" was the fourteenth and 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.
Kamal's cheating at backgammon is taken from the novel "Moonraker", where Hugo Drax cheats at bridge, until Bond beats him at his own game. The line "Spend the money quickly, Mr. Bond", appears in the novel as well. It is also similar to the golf game in Goldfinger (1964).
An octopus is said to have inspired the title of the original 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, a.k.a. 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 movie) Goldfinger (1964) on Blanche Blackwell.
The Acrostar Jet was twelve feet long, with a single micro-turbo jet engine TRS-18. It could fly at one hundred sixty miles (two hundred fifty-seven kilometers) per hour, and soar at three hundred ten miles (five hundred kilometers) per hour, and reach thirty thousand feet, with a climbing rate of two thousand five hundred 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.
One of Ian Fleming's James Bond source short stories for this movie, 1963's "The Property of a Lady" (a title acknowledged in this movie via Jim Fanning's reference book) was set in Sotheby's auction house in the book and movie. The story was first published in their trade journal "The Ivory Hammer" before being printed in the back of the re-issue of the Octopussy book. Ironically though, the two largest auctions of James Bond memorabilia ever held, on September 17, 1998, and February 14, 2001, were actually conducted by rival house, Christie's.
Even though Maud Adams played the title role, the audience doesn't see her face until one hour and nine minutes into the movie. That would explain why she was nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category at the Saturn Awards, instead of in the Best Actress category. She lost the award to Candy Clark in Blue Thunder (1983).
In his book, "As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride," Cary Elwes states that before he was an actor, he worked as a production assistant on this movie. One of his jobs was to drive Sir Roger Moore to work on the set of the movie. He further goes on to say that he was "a nervous wreck" being constantly afraid of getting in a car accident and accidentally killing Sir Roger Moore. On one occasion, Mr. Moore looked up from the newspaper he was reading while being driven to work by Elwes and stated calmly, "You can speed up a little if you want to."
A video game called "James Bond as seen in Octopussy" was developed by Capcom and Parker Brothers for this movie in 1984. It was designed for the Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Commodore 64, and ColecoVision platforms, but was never released. If it had been, it would have been the first James Bond video game with an associated title with that of a Bond movie. This didn't happen until A View to a Kill (1985).
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-Benz 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.
Ken Burns, an extra working on this movie at the Nene Valley train location, was allowed to film a Super-8 six minute movie of the filming at the Peterborough, England location. The movie, Ken Burns On-Set Movie (2006), is now available to view on the Ultimate Edition DVD of this movie. The short includes footage of Sir 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 the location. He was affectionately known on the set as the "3rd Unit". Note that Ken Burns should never be confused with American documentarian Ken Burns.
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 locomotive used in this movie is the former DSB S 740, from the DSB (Danish State Railway). In total, twenty (DSB S 720-740) of these engines were built between 1924 and 1928. It was built for the local traffic around Copenhagen, Hillerod, and Helsingor. It weighed ninety-eight tons, and had a maximum speed of ninety kilometers (sixty-one miles) per hour. 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 movie were 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.
In all of the scenes taking place in East Germany, only a single German voice is heard that actually belongs to a native German speaker, and has no significant American accent: The announcer heard over the tannoy at the train station even has the correct Saxon-German accent.
Vehicles featured include: an Acrostar Mini Jet, a.k.a. 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.
Rumors abounded prior to this movie's release, that Sir Sean Connery was going to appear in this movie alongside Sir Roger Moore, possibly as the villain. There have been similar claims on and off ever since.
Maud Adams and Kristina Wayborn appeared on the same episode of That '70s Show (1998). Barbara Carrera, who was approached for the role of Octopussy before opting for a role in Never Say Never Again (1983) also appeared in the same episode.
The first line of the Ian Fleming 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."
An early draft of the script cast Octopussy as the villain, using her research on Tracy Bond's death to manipulate Bond into joining her vendetta against S.P.E.C.T.R.E. The on-going legal battle with Kevin McClory put a stop to that.
As "Octopussy", the name she is only ever called in this movie, is identified as being the daughter of Major Dexter Smythe, Octopussy being a nickname. It can be inferred that her maiden name is Smythe.
The central plot (Soviets Agents faking an accidental nuclear explosion on a U.S. Air Force Base to force N.A.T.O. to withdraw tactical nuclear weapons from Europe) is very similar to that of The Fourth Protocol (1987), starring Pierce Brosnan.
A Mercedes-Benz saloon car was stolen by Bond, and used to chase the train. Having had his tires shot out, Bond drove on the rails and entered the train. During filming, the car had intact tires in one shot, so as to avoid any mishap.
In the German version, Kamal (Louis Jordan) was dubbed by late German actor Erik Schuhmann, while Bond (Sir Roger Moore) had his standard voice given by Niels Clausnitzer. In Street People (1976), Erik Schuhmann was the German voice for Sir Roger Moore.
This is the only (to date) James Bond movie to include the name of a female lead character in its title. Dr. No (1962) and Goldfinger (1964) constitute those others to include a character's name in the title.
In "Russian Roulette", Anthony Horowitz wrote about two brothers, Josef and Karl. Josef gets killed by an assassin, and Karl wants revenge, because Russian blood ties are strong between brothers. This is similar to the brothers here, and in Die Hard (1988) (where the brothers were German).
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
Bond had just seen Vijay dead, when he tells Q to "signal M" that he "has to go to a Circus in Karl-Marx-Stadt." We then cut to Bond and M talking, him getting his fake ID, et cetera. Viewers get a true glimpse of West Germany, before the Berlin Wall fell via Kurfürstendamm.