Mission Dossier: Goldfinger
The Year: 1964
The Director: Guy Hamilton
The Bond: Sean Connery
The Girl: Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore
The Baddie: Auric Goldfinger, ably assisted by the deadly hat throwing Oddjob.
If there is one James Bond film I have seen more than any other, it is definitely Goldfinger. I have long considered it my favourite of the series and it is also the only Bond film to feature on the ‘1001 Films you must see before you Die’ list. This exercise is all about seeing these Bond films anew though, so let’s see if it still holds up for me.
It does. Seeing them all again, I may eventually find a new favourite but I doubt highly anything will surpass this film. The film has so many iconic moments that make it a classic – the golf game, the gold paint, the most famous theme song in the series, the epic final showdown in Fort Knox – I could really go on. The scene with Bond and the laser is my favourite scene of any Bond film and features my favourite line in all the series when Goldfinger responds to Bond’s “Do you expect me to talk?” with the brilliant retort “No Mr Bond, I expect you to die.” All of these iconic elements are tied together nicely by the clever narrative. A gold merchant plots to make all of the gold in Fort Knox radioactive, to increase the value of the massive stock of gold he already owns. Again this film balances the light and dark aspects of the series really well. The opening sequence is violent, Bond electrocutes a guy in a bath. Then a Bond Girl is shockingly knocked off very early in the film, after the audience expected her to play a major role in the film. In contrast the one-liners from Bond just get pithier and pithier, just managing be wryly amusing rather than outright annoying, which is a hard balance to nail.
Where Goldfinger really excels is in the field of villains. The story departs from the SPECTRE-centric narratives of the first two films and instead focuses on Auric Goldfinger, played by Gert Frobe. Frobe, despite speaking little English, gives a very good performance as Goldfinger, a self-aggrandising figure who sees himself as being as groundbreaking as the first bloke on the moon or the scientist who split the atom… but you know, in the field of crime. And of course Goldfinger employs the most famous and awesomely named henchman probably in film history, Oddjob. Played by former wrestler Harold Sakata Oddjob is a short, dynamic dude who brings a lot to a mute role. Plus he kills people by throwing his frickin top hat at them which is undeniably cool. Whilst he did pop up in From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger features Q’s first proper appearance. It is all here this time: the witty rapport and scolding attitude towards Bond, the underground training facilities and the fully kitted out Aston Martin with convenient ejector seat. Finally of course, Goldfinger features the quite absurdly named character Pussy Galore who is Goldfinger’s personal pilot. How that one got past censors I will never know. As played by Honor Blackman, Ms Galore is a sassy character. There is often, especially recently, discussion about how the newest Bond Girl is a very different kind of foil for Bond. But for me, Pussy Galore is the original ‘different’ Bond Girl. She, at least in part, thinks for herself, is tough and has a lot of skills as a pilot. Not just there to look pretty and make love to Bond at the drop of a hat. Though I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a little of that in there too.
There is a reason that Goldfinger is the archetypal Bond film, it still holds up really well to this day. A great villain with an even better henchman, a sassy Bond girl who adds a lot to the story and a great central evil plot at the film’s core. If you have never seen a Bond film (!) then I suggest that this is where you start. Tis the perfect introduction.
Verdict: Longneck of Melbourne Bitter
- Goldfinger (1964)
- Dr No (1962)
- From Russia with Love (1963)
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