James Bond January – ‘Goldfinger’

From the mind of fellow film fan Paul at Paragraph Film Reviews comes this super fun series focusing on every one’s favorite super spy. Yes, known around the world by just three numbers (read: 007) James Bond takes international espionage to new heights. His his cinematic escapades feature a councpia of daring-do as he easily juggles high tech wonder gadgets, brilliant villians, gorgeous women, and with danger at every turn still finds time for a drink and a one liner. Yes the envialbe James Bond knows no bounds. So to kick off my love for 007, I’ll start with my favotire enrty in the seires. No it’s not the one I was raised on but the one that truly epitomises what it is to be a Double O.

James Bond, specifically when played by Sean Connery, is just one slick character. To some he’s the finest and most enviable hero ever to grace the screen. So desensitized to evil geniuses and plans for world domination that saving the world is really just another day at the office for old James. Now some may disagree but he’s never been cooler than in Guy Hamilton’s Goldfinger. Sure it’s the third in the series so we’ve already had healthy doses of 007 but here i’s where Bond really finds his legs cinematically and establishes what Bond films would be for years to come. It’s this film where he transcends the term gentlemen spy and really becomes a “super spy”.

A wonderful mix of 60’s misogyny, beautiful post modern settings and a glimpse back at what cool used to be, Goldfinger has really stood the test of time. Offering iconic charcters like Odd Job and Pussy Galore, to say nothing of the titular antagonist Auric Goldfinger, this thrid Bond films was a turning point in the series and began nearly mythologizing our hero.

The success of this film commercialized the series and James nearly became a super hero. What seems to be an increasing standard with each following film is that the more inescapable threats 007 faces, James passes it off with nary a shrug. Personally if you’re to feel anything for a hero you should see him sweat just a little and Guy Hamilton did just that. The Connery installments seem to be the most popular not only because they were the first but I believe it’s because the were the most grounded. So forgiving the slightly dated feel of the film, Goldfinger has far more to offer just the the death of Bond girl Jill Masterson via that famous Golden paint job, that tense laser scene and DB5 becoming 007’s car of choice.

In Goldfinger, Bond meets his match not once but twice. Now Auric Goldfinger isn’t nearly as menacing as Dr. No but he’s still dangerous as he’s similarly backed up by a legion of henchmen plus the femme fatale Pussy Galore; talk about a double threat. While Ms. Galore will ultimately become his ally (James has a was of doing that to women) she’s still a peg in the way of taking out Goldfinger.

What’s beautifully diabolical about our heavy de jour is that he’s not into smash and grab, and not he’s even concerned about world domination. He’s a collector and plain and simple, and “He loves gold” as Shirley Bassey astutely sings in the intro song. If he can’t have it, he’ll make what he’s got even more valuable by means of probably my favorite dastarldy plot of the series. He plans to break into Fort Knox but not steal the gold, not even remove one brick. Instead he plans to detonate a nuclear device inside the vault therefore making the entire U.S. gold supply untouchable for 57 years (until those nuclear isotopes dissipate). The term “evil genius” has never rang more true.

While that plot is so well planned out, like I wrote above, this is not what makes this installment one of the best ever. Here we get the start of more grand and wildly imaginative Q Branch gadgets as well as the quips and snarky banter that will become staples in following years (although in this film it feels vintage to the point of nostalgia). The film Goldfinger, to it’s credit, is void of fancy choreography (fight scenes, car chases, etc) therefore lending more credibility to James’ mission. For example, the fight scene in the very beginning seems as unexpected to James as it is to us and it’s pulled off with a great deal of improvisitation giving an overall genuine feel to it.

Now as much as there is to love there are some faults but the main one falls on everyone’s favorite monosyllabic uber henchman. Odd Job’s hat is pretty cool and a haymaker in the Bond universe but while it is deadly, he’s not very accurate. A .500 average means he’s half effective but only 33% deadly when aiming at actual people. Also Jill Masterson’s revenge seeking sister could have been left out completely. But while I found it highly out of place the machine gun toting Austrian grandma was an unexpected scene something of of a Mel Brooks movie.

Overall, Goldfinger the film and the villain really are outstanding benchmarks of the James Bond universe. Auric Goldfinger himself is a villain you can’t help but like and the film has good portions of what make makes a Bond film a Bond film but without being bloated or too heavy handed. Auric’s secret rooms, giant models that map out his elaborate plan, and unflinching bodyguards all are still cool (if dated looking) but as I can recall being wowed as a kid I can only imagine what audiences thought of when this ws released in ’64. Finally what makes Goldfinger even more lasting than James Bond, in this case, is that with today’s shaky economic times his plan for economic chaos makes a 50 year old spy film feel relevant. Now that’s longevity in a nutshell, wouldn’t you say?

As this wraps up our first post of this series, G-S-T extends thanks to Paul for setting this whole thing up. As he will be watching and reviewing all of the films in the series I have chosen to focus on the ones that are really special to me. That said, check back on the following dates to see my reviews of my other favorites…

21st Jan – Licence to Kill

24th Jan – GoldenEye

28th Jan – Casino Royale

Comments

  1. Of all the Bond films, Goldfinger remains my favorite.

  2. Two things I love about this… James Bond January’s bringing all the fans out of the woodwork, which is awesome. AND everyone seems to have a soft spot for this film.

    There’s just something so timeless about this (despite fashion, horrendous sexism, and a baddie that – on paper – shouldn’t be this bad!

    Love the article!

    • You’re right on the soft spot. This is what really established the model for all future Bond films. For those who grew up with any film after this, going back and watching Dr. No or From Russia might seem foreign.

      Thanks for your compliment but more importantly, thanks for setting this all up!

  3. Can’t wait to hear what you think of all three, Marc. Well you know how I feel about Licence to Kill, but Golden Eye is my fave Brosnan Bond film and Casino Royale proves how much I’ve misjudged Craig. All three would be in my top 10 Bond film. Hmmm, maybe I should make a post this month about that top 10!

    • Yup I smell inspiration for a post. Go get em Ruth!…but give Paragraph Films the credit:)

      I like Brosnan a lot. It’s sad that the films got more outlandish as they went on but the final straw was Die Another Day…that was just silly. Goldeneye is one of the very best of them all and the reboot really really worked well. Casino was fantastic. I agree with you on Craig but I do give a lot of the credit to that film’s success to Campbell (who also directed Goldeneye) as well as Eva Green (drool).