Goldfinger (1964)

Welcome to your briefing 007. Your mission: Goldfinger. It has come to our attention that English businessman Auric Goldfinger has been smuggling gold illegally across the borders. We want you to investigate and see if this is the case. We also think that perhaps he has some larger, more evil plan ahead for you. Good luck Bond.

The Beginning

The pre-title sequence here has nothing to do with the main plot, which is sometimes the case sometimes not. It is evident right away that this one may be slightly different than the others in the series, at least up to this point. When we first see Bond he has a pigeon attached to his head. He also makes one of the coolest moves when he takes his wetsuit off to reveal a white tux. So classy. And he has the calm nerve to stand there nonchalant as the bomb he placed explodes off in the distance. We then get treated to an early fight scene between our man James and an unknown foe. Again Bond shows great ingenuity in defeating him. And we get one of his great witticisms: “Shocking. Simply shocking.”

The title sequence itself is very similar to that of From Russia With Love, with the credits streaming against the bodies of beautiful women. The difference here is that the bodies are painted in gold. Also different is the theme song. For the first time in the series the James Bond Theme is not played during the credits, but rather the theme song for the film itself is played, “Goldfinger” as performed by Shirley Bassey. “Goldfinger” has long been one of my favorite theme songs from the Bond series. It is nothing really too special, but it is just so strong and fits perfectly into the legend that is James Bond. Although “From Russia With Love” came before it, I personally consider “Goldfinger” to be the first true Bond theme song, and it is a great one.

Locations

Miami FL, England, Geneva, Kentucky

Allies

M

M is seen slightly more here, but again his role is limited, simply giving Bond his mission. This does, however, mark the first instance that we see M outside of his office, as he meets with a man who presents them with a brick of Nazi gold to tempt Goldfinger with.

Felix Leiter

Again Bond meets up with our CIA buddy Felix while in America. Although Felix helps fill us in on Goldfinger somewhat, he does not help much past that, except in the end to execute Bond’s plan to bring Goldfinger down. We also see that Jack Lord has been replaced by an older, less dashing Cec Linder, perhaps to give Bond more of the limelight, perhaps not.

Enemies

Auric Goldfinger

The title character of the film, Goldfinger is definitely evil. When we first meet him he is duping a man into playing Gin Rummy with him while he has his hired minion helping him always win. No fun sport, and definitely not fair, in my opinion. From there we learn that he is a decent golfer, but not good enough to beat our man Bond, without cheating that is. And in the end he is the mastermind behind one of the greatest bank robberies of all time: Fort Knox? But did he pull it off? And was it truly a bank robbery, or some other genius plan? You’ll just have to follow along if you want that part spoiled. See for yourself chump. Watch the dang movie. It’s good. I swear.

Oddjob

Next we have Goldfinger’s right hand man Oddjob. Oddjob is an interesting character. He is a giant Korean man who throws a lethal hat (see any connection to Austin Powers yet? Yea, these things are chock full of references). Oddjob, in addition to being short, but intimidatingly stout, is also mute, which adds to the evil of his character. And he is fully devoted to the task of Goldfinger, even to the point that he would die for him. We never learn why. Perhaps Goldfinger saved him from an evil in Korea, perhaps he was otherwise closely connected and in debt to our main foe Goldfinger?

Q Branch

This marks the first instance that we actually get to see into the Q labs and see some of the great gadgets that Q and the boys are working up, like exploding parking meters and bulletproof vests. The standard PPK is the weapon of choice here. The main gadget here is Bond’s car, the Aston Martin DB5, full with machine guns, rotating license plate, and counter measures. The other main feature of the car is a homing device that tracks the whereabouts of Bond and whatever Bond chooses to follow. In this case, Bond utilizes it on Goldfinger’s car.

The Girls

Unknown

In the pre-title sequence, we get a dose of girl whom Bond presumably has slept with in the past. He is quite pretty, though not really memorably so, and in the end, tries to betray Bond and get him killed.

Jill Masterson

Masterson is Goldfinger’s eyes in the sky for his game of Gin and is quite beautiful. Played by Shirley Eaton, Masterson is best known for her death in the hotel by means of paint poisoning. You see, she is the one that ends up painted gold on Bond’s bed. But all of this happens after Bond woos her and sleeps with her, of course. What is funny here, is that Bond is going to the fridge to get cool wine, making a disparaging remark about the Beatles of anybody, when he gets conked on the head. I am always amazed by the enemies ability to disable, but never kill Bond. Here is a good example.

Tilly Masterson

The sister of Jill, Tilly is out for revenge and we see her only in Geneva and only as part of the chase that includes Bond. Her role is small and Bond thinks her first an enemy.

Pussy Galore

One of the most famous Bond girls, Pussy Galore, played by Honor Blackman, is also a right hand man of Goldfinger. And when I say right hand man, I mean man, because honestly, the way the character is handled, I have long wondered about the sexual orientation of Pussy. She is a fighter, a pilot, and seemingly immune to Bond’s charm. She hangs around other women a lot and even dresses much like a man, and only changes at the request of Goldfinger in order to distract Bond. Whether she is or is not is not really that important apart from the fact that a film released in 1964 dealing with homosexual characters is a progressive idea, even if it was a British film, as the Brits have seemingly always been faster at achieving progressive things than the Yanks. But in addition, it is somewhat insulting when, in the end, she is “turned” by Bond and finally does give in to his charm. As for her character, she is evil and cold hearted, but then she experiences a change in the hands of Bond that is indescribable. You’ll just have to see the film to understand, but she does represent a good idea of an independent, free will kind of girl.

The Car & the Chase

The car we have here, as mentioned before, is a beautiful Aston Martin DB5. Aston Martin will become a popular choice for Bond in the missions to come. Here, there are actually two car chases. He has one in Geneva with Tilly Masterson, who we do not know her intentions at the time, and Bond gets the chance to use the tire spikes to disable her car. We also get another car chase in Geneva at Goldfinger’s compound. Here is a very exciting chase through the forest initially and then through the warehouses of the plant. Bond gets to use all his countermeasures, including the spikes, smoke screen, bulletproof panel, and yes, the ejector seat, Q was not joking. This second chase scene is spectacular and a lot of fun. And the way it ends is quite jarring.

Mission Debriefing

Goldfinger is a great addition to the Bond series and has long been one of my favorites, but one of the things I noticed this time around was how cheesy it was. There were plenty of cheesy lines and even plot twists, but what was more was the names. We have Auric Goldfinger, the gold loving villain. I mean come on. That is like James Cameron calling the unobtainable element “Unobtainium”. And then Pussy Galore. There was not funny Bond girl names before this…well Honey Ryder I suppose, but c’mon, Pussy Galore. Wow. So cheesy. But the funny thing is I love it. That is part of the charm of these films to me: the tongue and cheek wit that is sued throughout the film in the things Bond says and in some of the characters names.

That being said, I think Guy Hamilton brings some interesting things to the table as a new director in the Bond series. Yes, in addition to some of the cheesiness there was some bad acting (Bond’s caddy in the golf game for instance) and the editing, in my humble opinion, was generally terrible, but this film also had moments of perfection. Like the scene where Bond is captured and being shown Goldfinger’s new laser. Perfection and the delivery of the line, “No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!” by Gert Frobe is amazing, best part of the movie. It just gives me chills. And Gert Frobe is great throughout. The golf game is a lot of fun to watch too.

And once again we have spectacular set design from the filmmaking crew. The sets are always something great to look at in Bind films and something that is always top notch. Here is no different. It is just something that is consistently great about these films and something that has me coming back to them again and again. The action scenes were also fairly good here. Not great or game changing, but good and a lot of fun to watch.

Some of the proceeding may have been extremely implausible, but that is part of the fun and part of the charm of a Bond film. I will admit that the film is not perfect, I will also admit that it is not my favorite Bond film, but Goldfinger will remain a stand alone film that I will always enjoy revisiting and something, despite it obviously being aged, will never be irrelevant in my own personal film history.

James Bond will return in…

Thunderball

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