Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Octopussy and The Living Daylights, by Ian Fleming

(pb; 1966, 1967, 2002: story anthology -- fourteenth/final book in the original 007/James Bond series)

Review, overall:

Decent four-story anthology, best read as side-pieces to Fleming's more plot-substantial novels. It's a gotta-read for Bond fans, of course.

Review, story by story:

"Octopussy" - An alcoholic retired military man and sea-life enthusiast, Major Dexter Smythe, is confronted by a past misdeed when James Bond comes to visit him in the Caribbean. Solid, predictable entry -- light on action, heavy on corruption and karmic justice.

"The Property of a Lady" - In a Sotheby's auction room, during a Faberge egg bidding, Bond tries to flush out a high-ranking Russian agent. Another solid Bond tale, fascinating, with an exciting and quiet finish.

"The Living Daylights" - Bond, protecting a fellow agent (Agent 272) crossing into West Berlin from East Berlin, takes on a KGB sniper he'd rather not shoot. Great story, accentuating Bond's sense of humanity and decency, as well as his disillusionment with his "double-00" status. Memorable, classic.

"007 in New York" - Overly-chatty tale about Bond warning another agent about her cohabitation with an enemy agent. Bond's mission reads like an afterthought, given Bond's lengthier travelogue-style memories about New York in the past, an ex-lover (Solange) and his frustration in trying to order a breakfast consisting of properly-prepared brown eggs (which are curiously hard to find). Mercifully brief bit of fluff, this.

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Octopussy became a film in 1983. It has little to do with its source story, aside from its title. The Faberge egg plot stems another Bond story, "The Property of a Lady".

Roger Moore played James Bond. Maud Adams played Octopussy. Louis Jordan played Kamal Khan. Steven Berkoff played General Orlov. Robert Brown played M. Desmond Llwelyn played Q. Lois Maxwell played Miss Moneypenny.

John Glen directed the film, from a script by Richard Maibaum, George MacDonald Fraser and Michael G. Wilson.

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The Living Daylights was released in 1987. The movie expands on its source story (see above review).

Timothy Dalton played James Bond. Maryam d'Abo played Kara Milovy. Jeroen Krabbe played General Georgi Koskov. Joe Don Baker played Brad Whitaker. Desmond Llewlyn played Q. Robert Brown played M. Caroline Bliss played Miss Moneypenny. John Terry played Felix Leiter.

John Glen directed, from a script penned by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson.

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