Bond's Golden Opportunity
Goldfinger is the third installment in the James Bond film series, with Sean Connery reprising his role as James Bond. The film is directed by Guy Hamilton and stars Honor Blackman as Bond girl Pussy Galore and Gert Frobe as the titular Auric Goldfinger.
In the long lineup of films in the James Bond saga, very few, and I mean very few, come even close to Goldfinger in regards to having such a profound impact on the Bond character and his portrayal on screen. Considered by many to be the quintessential entry in the James Bond canon, Goldfinger finds the 007 formula being galvanized to its absolute maximum, making Dr. No, From Russia With Love, and all of Connery's other appearances as Bond look completely sedated by comparison. The film's many infamous quotes, striking imagery, and reliance on technology paved the way for a countless numbers of homages and imitations, with even future Bond films tipping their hat to Goldfinger's masterful craft. If I'd have been a more responsible film lover, I would've seen the whole thing from start to finish some years back before waiting until now to do so.
In Goldfinger, Agent 007 now finds himself in the United States after spending time in the Caribbean and Europe. Bond is stationed out at a hotel in Miami where he receives instructions from M (Bernard Lee) to investigate gold magnate Auric Goldfinger. Goldfinger intends to render all of the gold in Fort Knox useless, in an attempt to destroy the world economy and raise the value of his own supply of gold. Bond follows Goldfinger to Switzerland and discovers a plant where Goldfinger goes about conducting gold smuggling operations. However, Bond is captured and imprisoned at Goldfinger's stud farm near Fort Knox. On the flight to the stud farm, Bond meets one of Goldfinger's pilots, Pussy Galore, who he attempts to seduce.
Describing the story of a James Bond film is as simple as it nearly pointless. You really only need the answers to three questions heading in:
1.) Who is the villain?
2.) What does the villain hope to achieve?
3.) Who is the gorgeous girl that gets involved with everything?
Now, depending on what the answer's are to these three questions, you can tell almost right off the bat if you're going to get a good or not so good Bond film. But to get the best out of the 007 formula, there's also the matter of Bond's general attitude throughout the film, the gadgets and technology that he uses, as well as the presentation of the thrilling action sequences that are inevitable during Bond's various missions.
- Goldfinger easily has one of the best opening themes, passionately sung by Shirley Bassey. The main theme makes heavy use of brass instruments with Bassey belting several high notes. There is some similarity to the opening of From Russia With Love, in which certain scenes from the movie are projected onto a woman's body. I'd take some points away for lack of total originality, but damn can Shirley Bassey sing! I don't know how you could hear the name Goldfinger without the theme song playing in your head.
- There is not one single dull moment in Goldfinger's entire 110 minute run time. When Bond isn't exchanging fists with someone or showing off his enhanced DB5 vehicle provided by Q (Desmond Llewelyn), he's thrust into a situation that generates tension and excitement, even if the situation seems entirely casual and laid back. A simple, friendly game of golf between Bond and Goldfinger evolves into a minor battle of wits, when Bond realizes that Goldfinger is trying to cheat. Goldfinger hits his ball off course, but he "finds it" by having his silent manservant Oddjob (Harold Sakata) sneak a new ball into the game. Bond still manages to get the best of Goldfinger, who hates losing more than anything. Even the film's opening scene, which has nothing to do with the main plot, is Bond getting into a fight with a man who he kills by knocking into a bath tub and then electrocuting. This leads to one of the more groan inducing one liners of the series, in which Bond walks away saying, "Shocking. Positively shocking." Put it all together though, and you have a Bond film that completely grips you from the opening seconds and doesn't let go until the very end.
- I kept trying and trying to find something in Goldfinger to call out as a serious flaw, and I just couldn't do it. Sean Connery is great yet again, and I especially appreciated how Pussy Galore is written as more than just another one of Bond's love desires, as she is also a pilot and heavily involved in Goldfinger's schemes. To be super picky, I was slightly set back by the lack of time in which Bond and Pussy Galore are on screen together, and that didn't have me completely buying into her and Bond being together at the end of the day. That's about as close as I can get to anything resembling a flaw.
And for the first time in the film series, the villain is made out to be someone who is seemingly more powerful than Bond. Just for a minute, we start to question if Bond can actually defeat Goldfinger, because whenever it appears that Bond is on top of things, Goldfinger swings the pendulum back in his favor. The result is a tense and enthralling chapter to the Bond saga that easily distinguishes itself as one of the best. Goldfinger hasn't lost any bit of its golden value fifty plus years later and remains a benchmark for future Bond films. It was highly unfortunate that Ian Fleming passed away shortly before the film's release. I can't help but think he would have had endless praise for it.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: