Should I Watch..? Goldfinger
What's the big deal?
Goldfinger is an action spy thriller film released in 1964 and is the third film in the James Bond series. Based on the novel of the same name by Ian Fleming, the film sees Sean Connery return once again in the role of the British secret agent 007 as he is tasked with investigating suspected gold smuggler Auric Goldfinger in Miami, Florida. It was a massive success, the first Bond film to become a true blockbuster as it grossed just under $125 million worldwide (about $976 million in today's money). Over time, it has become regarded as the quintessential Bond film as well as the first Bond film to win an Academy Award. After this, there would be no going back for the series which kept getting bigger and bigger with every release. If there was only one Bond film to recommend then this is it which explains why it's the first Bond film in my Hall Of Fame.
What's it about?
Bond, while staying at a hotel in Miami, receives instructions from M via his CIA friend Felix Leiter. He's told that international gold magnate Auric Goldfinger is staying at the same hotel and Bond is asked to observe him in order to discover how he is able to apparently smuggle gold all over the world. After interfering with Goldfinger's card game, he meets Goldfinger's associate Jill Masterson but their relationship is short-lived. Bond is attacked and when he wakes up, Jill is lying dead in his bed with her body completely covered in gold paint.
Bond follows Goldfinger to Switzerland where he witnesses Jill's sister Tilly seek revenge for his sister's death. But Goldfinger and his mute Korean servant Oddjob are always one step ahead - he knows that Bond is a British spy sent to follow him and soon takes him prisoner at his stud farm in Kentucky where Bond soon discovers that Goldfinger is interested in something far more dangerous than simple smuggling...
Richard Maibaum & Paul Dehn *
Release Date (UK)
18th September, 1964
Action, Spy, Thriller
Best Sound Effects
What's to like?
I like to think of Dr No and From Russia With Love as trial runs for Goldfinger, even it that doesn't fully indicate how good the first two Bonds film actually are. What I mean is that they gave producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman to see what worked, what would ultimately become Bond trademarks and they tried everything together for the first time in this movie. This is the one that hits the jackpot where the formula was perfected and would be used for almost every Bond film until the Daniel Craig-fronted reboot Casino Royale in 2006.
It had a larger-than-life villain in the shape of Fröbe's memorable megalomaniac, the henchman Oddjob who would leave an indelible impression on audiences across the world without saying a single word and the most audacious plot the series had seen thus far. It had Bond at his suave best with his gadget-laden Aston Martin DB5 and a rediscovered sense of humour that gave the movie another edge. It had Blackman as the improbably-named Bond girl and not forgetting, Eaton's iconic image lying on Bond's bed covered head to toe in gold paint. Goldfinger has so many images, scenes and sequences that have become indelibly linked to the Bond series that it's impossible to separate them. The film has come to embody the character and standards of Bond and frankly, none of the others have gotten close.
- Connery never set foot in the US shooting this movie - all scenes where he's supposed to be were shot at Pinewood Studio in England.
- First ever appearance of a laser in a movie. The script called for a spinning buzzsaw to be used but the filmmakers thought that the idea was already too commonplace.
- When Pussy Galore introduces herself to Bond, he replies with the classic line "I must be dreaming!" The original line - "I know you are but what's your name?" - was dropped after being deemed 'too suggestive'.
What's not to like?
Despite the increase in budget and scale, the film still has the odd wobble here and there. Take the scene with Bond escaping assassins in the DB5 at night-time - the film is sped up to give the impression of speedy, reckless driving but it has a faint whiff of Benny Hill about it. The other thing is that the film creates a real schism between the first two films and the others because it dispenses with the spy-aspect of the story and becomes a gloriously camp adventure. The film lacks the seriousness of From Russia With Love and increases the amount of action tenfold. As a result, this movie is as different from the previous entries as Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins is from the Sixties Batman movie.
But in truth, who can possibly find fault with this movie? It's designed to entertain, to make you feel like you've enjoyed a rip-roaring adventure that blows you away with its sheer levels of fun. And you know what? It does that with consummate ease...
Should I watch it?
Absolutely. This film is simply as exciting and enjoyable as the series had got and has rarely got back to since. It's loud, daft, bright, thrilling and everything you could possibly want. It's not exactly realistic or based in reality that much but it doesn't matter - you're having too much fun to notice.
Great For: Bond fans, action fans, film fans
Not so Great For: fans of the first two Bond films, people who are stupid
What else should I watch?
It's difficult to think of other Bond films that have such a sense of joy in them. The next in the series - Thunderball - ramped up the action by featuring scenes underwater but it didn't have the same zip Goldfinger has. The closest Connery ever got to having total fun again was You Only Live Twice which has all the underground volcano lairs, microlight scenes and cat-stroking evil genius you could ever wish for.
Of course, Roger Moore has lots of fun as Bond and introduced a lighter interpretation of 007. The Man With The Golden Gun might not have the best plot but it's light and fluffy like Goldfinger is as well as having the late Christopher Lee as the gloriously demented hitman Scaramanga. But personally, Goldfinger is as good as Bond ever got.
© 2015 Benjamin Cox