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What Does Octopussy Mean in James Bond?

There are many questionable things we ignore in “James Bond” films. Amidst all the casual sexism, racism, stereotypes, and the way many incarnations of 007 are essentially walking collections of red flags from the modern standpoint, it can be easy to miss some of the most obviously glaring questions about the franchise — like, say, what kind of father would call their daughter Octopussy, and who in their right mind would decide to go by that name in their professional life?

A character that was given the name as an attempt to keep at least some details from the source material in the movie, it turns out. The name is actually a holdover from Ian Fleming’s James Bond short story collection “Octopussy and The Living Daylights,” in which the villain protagonist Major Dexter Smythe — the human Octopussy’s dead father in the movie — befriends an octopus in the wild. He names it “Pussy,” and ends up voluntarily feeding himself to it after his dastardly plans go awry. In the grand scheme of things, this means that the short story “Octopussy” is technically a prequel of sorts to the movie. Meanwhile, the fake Fabergé egg plot in the movie has similarities to another short story in the collection, “The Property of a Lady,” which features a minor literary Bond villain, KGB double agent Maria Freudenstein.

“Octopussy” isn’t one of the best “Bond” movies by any stretch of imagination, thanks to its sheer cheesiness and literal circus antics. Still, at least the story behind its titular character’s name is somewhat more nuanced than, say, that of “Goldfinger’s” Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman).

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