“You seem to have this nasty habit of surviving.”
BOND 14 . OCTOPUSSY
As with Sean Connery in 1971, Moore’s won't-play-Bond-again stories (or rather, those of his agent) had Cubby Broccoli looking elsewhere. Back to America this time - James Brolin or Mel Gibson…
007 . As Roger was interested only in contracts for one film at a time, sturdy Brits Timothy Dalton (Prince Bartin in Flash Gordon) and Oliver Tobias (TV’s King Arthur) were being favoured. In the midst of his Year of Living Dangerously, Gibson wasn’t sure where his next job would be coming from. All he knew was he didn’t want to go the 007 route. “Nobody can out-do Sean in these things. He put it on the map.”
Brolin, who had the temerity to play Clark Gable in Gable and Lombard, 1976, was sent to London for a Bond test. Broccoli even flew in Maud Adams, from The Man With The Golden Gun, to help out. (“An excellent test,” said John Glen. But Cubby ruled out any US Bond).
Maud also helped test Michael Billington. “I found out that Roger had not signed up,” she said, “and they were considering somebody new. I assumed they needed someone they liked to he.lp in the tests, who was trustworthy, who would show up and just be somebody for him to play against.”
Yes. And no… Because Brolin lost. And Adams won. The title role, in fact. When she thought she had merely been helping out her 007 pals like Cubby. But no, she as suddenly became the third Bond Girl to appear in two films, the first with two starring roles, as opposed to window dressing. Even if she was put off off by her name. Octopussy. (She was given Ian Fleming’s book. “Oh, well, if it’s in the book…”_.
Michael Billington also lost (for the sixth and last time) after Bonding with such beauties as British Susan Penhaligon (the Rosamund Pike of her day and nicknamed by her actress pal Stephanie Beacham as Susan Penhooliogan!) and sultry American TVactress Deborah Shelton- two years away from her breakthrough in Brian De Palma’s erotic Body Double and, bien sur, some 62 chapters of Dallas.
“I was very surprised and delighted they were
serious about using me. Incredibly flattering...
A woman had never played a title part in a Bond before.”
And Adams added: “I loved this character because she was so opposite to Andrea [in Golden Gun]. She runs this international smuggling operation, she has all these women working for her, and she’s a fun, exciting character.”
Ultimately, peace was made with Roger. Cubby needed at least one Moore - as there was a box-office battle looming with Sean Connery returning to Bondage in Kevin McClory’s Thunderball re-tread, Never Say Never Again. A new Bond -British or American - could not be risked against The Man!
“There was no animosity between Sean and me.,” said Roger in his his 2008 autobiography, My Word Is My Bond. “We didn’t react to the press speculation that we had become competitors in the part. In fact, we often had dinner together and compared notes about how much we’d each shot and how our respective producers were trying to kill us with all the action scenes they expected us to do.
“I never actually saw Sean’s film. [nor either of Dalton’s]. I’m told it did very well, but not quite as well as Octopussy!”
Octopussy . For some reason, the magic name of Faye Dunaway had also been raised (yet again) among candidates. Apart from bait, there was not much truth in it as in the next breath, the name of B-movie pin-up Sybil Danning circulated. Plus Persis Khambatta - no longer bald as in the awful 1979 Star Trek movie. Barbara Carrera refused to be the girl with the name stolen from Ian Fleming’s pet octopus. In order, she said, to work wth the real James Bond, Sean Connery, coming back as a rival 007 in in that year’s Thunderball re- make, Never Say Never Again.
Kamal Khan . Having passed on Moonraker, Louis Jourdan now agreed to play some elegant evil: “Spend the money quickly, Mr Bond.”
M . Back at the SIS office, Robert Brown took over as M. He’d been Moore’s servant, Gurth, in the Ivanhoe series, 1958-59. “He was a bugger in that he was a giggler,” said Roger. Another Bond guy working with Roger in those days, Anthony Dawson (007’s first kill in in Dr No), gave new meaning to the term: corpser. “He could fall asleep at the drop of a hat.” On one Ivanhoe location, Dawson woke up surrounded by children asking: Is he dead. “If you’d come across an ancient knight, in full, armour, lying in a field,” said Moore, “what would you think?”
Otherwise the only really new aspect of the series (dying on its feet) was the MGM Lion logo at the beginning. Metro merged with United Artists in 1982, and this is the first Bond movie released by the new MGM/UA distribution outlet. When news like that is almost exciting, there is something the matter with the franchise
Truth is, Broccoli only gave in to Moore (as per MGM’s demands) because any new 007 would almost certainly lose the Bond v Bond battle with Connery’s comeback, Never Say Never Again. Cubby was right. It was close, but Moore beat Connery - not a surprise as Broccoli had a deal with McClory to open the Moore film first, Sean’s generation were no longer going to the movies and the youngsters did not really know him as 007. For them, Connery - who had not played the role for a dozen years - was the newcomer!
Anyway, Broccoli could not lose... The deal he had ironed out with Kevin’s people included... a slice of the McClory action.