Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A traveling travelogue

If you looked over at the right column on my blog and saw which movie I've most recently revisited, you might have said to yourself:

"Octopussy? Really?"

Yes, Octopussy. The James Bond movie. The 13th James Bond movie, to be precise. The sixth to star Roger Moore.

"Why the hell are you rewatching Octopussy, Vance?"

Well, I'll tell you.

On the Flickchart blog, a friend of mine is hosting a year-long series in honor of the 50th anniversary of James Bond in the movies. Dr. No, the first Bond movie, came out in 1962. It's 2012. I've checked the math -- it's correct. As such, there will be one post per month about something related to the Bond franchise. I'm writing the February one.

"But why are you rewatching Octopussy in particular, Vance?"

Ah, yeah. That.

The thesis of my piece is that because there are so many Bond movies, it's hard to have a consensus opinion about a) who the best Bond is, and b) what the best Bond movie is. Sure, the "right" answer about who the best Bond is is Sean Connery. But a large percentage of today's Bond fans don't even know Sean Connery from his later work, so why should they know him as Bond?

So the essential idea behind my piece will be: "Why not Octopussy?"

"But Vance, why not The Man With the Golden gun instead of Octopussy? For example?"

Well, because I watched Octopussy about ten times when I was a kid. In fact, I believe it's the only Bond movie I've seen more than once. I must love really love it if I've seen it ten more times than any other Bond movie.

That, or it was the one Bond movie I had on VHS. When I was a kid, I had a rotation of about a dozen movies we'd recorded off cable that I watched repeatedly. They included such titles as Superman II, Star Trek II, The Secret of NIMH, Time Bandits, Rocky III and The Goonies.

And, oh yeah, Octopussy.

But I like to think it wasn't just its availability that made me watch Octopussy repeatedly. It wasn't just that Octopussy was the only Bond movie that played during that finite period (2-3 years) when we had The Movie Channel, when my mom recorded almost everything that played.

I like to think that Octopussy was really better than other Bond movies -- other Roger Moore Bond movies in particular, but Connery Bond movies too. (I've still seen only two Connery Bond movies -- Dr. No, and the pretender Never Say Never Again, in which Connery returned to the role in an unauthorized version of the character, which was released the same year as Octopussy. Yes, I should be heavily berated for this gap in my filmography.)

I know it's better than Moonraker, which always struck me as very weird -- James Bond in outer space? I'm pretty sure it's better than For Your Eyes Only, the only part of which I really remember is that there's an extended skiing sequence. And I know it's better than A View to a Kill, despite the presence of Christopher Walken and Grace Jones. And I'm ashamed to admit I haven't even seen Moore's first three outings as Bond, all in the 1970s.

Anyway, enough about why I watched the movie. Watching it was a highly enjoyable trip down memory lane. So glad I did.

I won't write too much more about it now, because I'm going to save that for the other blog post. However, I did notice one thing about the experience that I wanted to talk about (now that we're nearly 20 paragraphs in):

I don't know if I've ever previously watched a movie in so many different locales. Appropriate for a movie that's essentially a travelogue, and takes place in many different locales.

I started watching it at the gym on Friday after work. I'd had a rough couple nights in a row of sleep (my son is teething), so I didn't have the energy to go my full 45 minutes on the stairmaster. I paid attention to what my body was telling me and cut out after 25 minutes. But then I watched another ten or so downstairs in a comfy chair in the lobby before leaving.

That night at home, after my wife went to sleep, I watched another 20 minutes or so. But remember what I said about having a couple bad nights' sleep in a row? (I hope so -- it was only one paragraph ago.) So yeah, I didn't last too long on that viewing before the couch got me.

Then I watched the last hour Sunday morning at my office. I've found my office conference room to be a good place to take my son on Sundays, when the office is empty. (Except for the security guy, who is used to seeing me by now.) There's a TV and DVD player all set up. And he can run around the room and play with his toys for awhile before he gets bored. There are very few things that he can break, or that can break him.

That's not only three locations, but three different players: my portable DVD player, my home BluRay player and the DVD player at work. (You can also say this movie has traveled, because I received it through the mail from Netflix.)

It matches the movie's three locales: the "cold open" that has nothing to do with the rest of the story, which is set somewhere in Latin America; the bulk of the action in India; and Germany, where slightly less of the action takes place.

However, I guess Bond really has me beat. The movie also contains a short couple scenes at Secret Service HQ and an auction house in London, as well as a Russian war room scene that, presumably, takes place in the Soviet Union.

Then again, the British Secret Service has a bigger budget than I do.


Nick Prigge said...

"Why not Octopussy?"

I think Roger Moore should go on a barnstorming campaign to get people (who, I'm not sure) to officially crown "Octopussy" as the best Bond film by employing your phrase as the slogan. Really, what else does he have going on?

Travis McClain said...

I gotta tell you, I'm stoked to read this piece when you finish it. I'll refrain from any other comments at this time, but I will just say this:

Kristina Wayborn. Yeah.

Thaddeus said...

I hate to say it, but Octopussy is the most "not-clearly-bad" Bond film that I dislike. My reasons are three:
they reuse Maude Adams as a Bond girl, tho she was a major figure in Golden Gun.
There are too many Bond puns, and the name Octopussy - as a tattoo that some women wear - seems childishly stupid to me.
Roger Moore shows up at MI6's Indian branch and uses a camera to zoom in and out on the cleavage of a busty Indian agent.
That last one really pissed me off as (a) that's fratboy behavior - not even "rakish ladies' man," I'm talking Gilbert Gottfried on a bender
And (b) it's super-offensive to see a British person treating an Indian person that way (much less a fellow agent).

All that said, Bond Blogathons are a good thing, and I hope you rock it out. Your childhood DVD collection was sweet, but I can't imagine seeing most of those only once. Especially Goldfinger!

Vancetastic said...


It's hard to believe that Roger Moore is 84 now. I don't believe I've seen him in anything since he showed up in the comedy classic (note the sarcasm) Boat Trip. It's also (still) hard to believe that they replaced Sean Connery with a guy who was already three years older than him.


I doubt that the piece will be super profound. I think I just plan to have fun with the wonderful absurdities of Octopussy. By the end of the piece everyone will know that it's not REALLY the best Bond movie.

Yeah, Wayborn is hot -- but if you google her, just be prepared to avoid the recent pictures. That's not just a dig at her because she was young then and she's old now. Some people age gracefully, but I'm afraid that she did not.


Those are very fair complaints about Octopussy. However, couldn't you say that the name "Octopussy" is really only hearkening back to earlier in the series, when Pussy Galore was a famous Bond girl? I didn't know that about Maud Adams, since I haven't seen The Man With the Golden Gun. (I know, I know.) Yeah, I made special note of his using the camera to focus on the boobs of the Indian agent. However, something about the way Moore sells stuff like that just makes me laugh. He's got that "I'm really not taking this seriously" glint in his eye. I mean, every Bond is supposed to have that glint, but tell that Timothy Dalton.