Three years and three Bond films, 1964 saw Sean Connery don the suit and guns once more and with Goldfinger, records were broken. It became the template for the foreseeable future in the franchise and it still holds up today as one of the greatest spy films to come out of British cinema.
STARS – Sean Connery, Gert Frobe, Honor Blackman, Harold Sakata
DIRECTOR – Guy Hamilton
RUN-TIME – 110 minutes
BEST LINE – The previous two saw me selecting killer puns delivered with stony faced wonder by Connery, however I’d be 100% wrong if I didn’t choose a quip said by the villain as the most brilliant verbal response. After 007 asks baddie Auric Goldfinger if he expects him to die, the gold-obsessed tyrant retorts, “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!” This 8 word reply is a great example of ultra-villainy as he leaves the MI6 spy facing down a scorching laser beam.
BEST GADGET – Another reason this film stands out as the first impressive feature is that we finally get to witness the makings of the gear that the 00 gang use in missions around the world. Desmond Llewyn showcases James with a slick Aston Martin DB5, a silver car with rotating license plates, a tracker in the dashboard, an armrest with defense options such as smokescreen or oil-slick and to seal the deal that this drive-able gadget is boss, there’s an ejector button situated in the top of the gear stick. Bomb’s away!
EEEK MOMENT – There aren’t any huge spooky moments or shots that give you goosebumps, but if you were to put yourself in the shoes of the male Mafia collection in Goldfinger’s pool room then there’s a scary place to be. The walls and windows become shuttered and any last gaps are sealed, leaving the gents locked up in a transformed gas chamber and their imminent coffin.
00 UH-OH – An early scene of rough and tumble with a generic assassin is iffy, thanks to seeing Bond use a sexual conquest as a human shield, which isn’t exactly romantic of him. Then there’s the more frustrating image of Goldfinger playing gin rummy with a stonking great earpiece in; his cheat system is as subtle as a brick being smacked over the opponents’ head but somehow the other card player doesn’t notice the device or wire obviously trailing down Goldfinger’s face!
ICONIC MOMENT – Forget Betty White and company, Jill Masterson played by Shirley Eaton is a literal golden girl. She has an extremely short time in the film but the vision of her laid out in a hotel room, covered in deathly golden body paint is an image recognizable to this very day and is classic Bond material, so much so that Gemma Arteton’s character had a similar fate in Quantum of Solace.
REVIEW – This Bond film is considered a blockbuster, the budget amounted to more than Dr. No and From Russia with Love combined and both audiences and critics loved the movie upon release. The script is fairly fast and flashy, keeping the watcher engrossed with thrills and spills in a more action focused script than what came before.
The story has James Bond being instructed to observe Goldfinger and after a lesson in gold bullion, Bond needs to work out how the imposing figure with a Midas touch manages to smuggle it and make his money. Bond soon uncovers a plan named Operation Grand Slam that has Goldfinger hoping to rob Fort Knox of its contents. It’s a bold as brass (something Auric wouldn’t be interested in) plot and from London to Geneva to Kentucky, this film shuttles along with henchmen, a more formidable villain, a more interesting Bond girl and a higher sense of doom, especially when James is cuffed to a ticking time bomb.
Bond has more to face this time around, as he’s captured more than usual and up against it. Oddjob is Auric’s trusty assistant, an imposing foe with a hat of steely doom, at least you could use him well against the Weeping Angels in Doctor Who. The almost silent and stocky aggression seeping out from the henchman is well performed and makes sure Oddjob is a character to remember.
It isn’t just the metallic rim of his headgear that triumphs; Q’s Aston Martin DB5 gets its time to shine at around 40 mins in, through a nighttime race. The car is very much like a toy but with deadly tricks within. The sequence where Bond drives the vehicle is good fun, he ends up skidding it through Auric’s complex and throughout the scene there’s a furious and entertaining quality along with skittish editing which injects the first mega burst of action energy to the movie.
A film with a character name like Pussy Galore could be a goofy one, spoofed years later by the likes of Mike Myers in Austin Powers, but the tongue in cheek aspect and the strength of Honor Blackman’s role makes sure her name isn’t all we take away from the film. Blackman flaunts a determined and capable Bond gal, her pilot duties and flight training leadership makes her more rounded then the women we’ve seen so far. Plus, she can scrap and take down James which prevents Pussy from being a dumb blonde trap to fall into and only a hay-pile smooch sees her trip into the usual grip of 007.
So, even if this film does have some silly moments; such as the flying circus dropping toxins on unsuspecting armies, who drop like they’re playing Andy’s Coming in Toy Story, it’s a 007 outing that paved the way for the more gadget-fueled whiz and action stakes we’ve seen in future Bond movies. The golden girls in the opening credits and Shirley Bassey’s stunning vocals gift this film a glitzy look from the start. All in all, Goldfinger is a gilded treasure.