British spy James “007” Bond (Sean Connery, The Man Who Would Be King) is sent to Florida, USA, to keep an eye on a mysterious businessman, Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines), who is suspected of running an international smuggling gold operation and other illegal activities.
Reaction & Thoughts:
“You’re a woman of many parts, Pussy!”
This is where James Bond, the pop-culture icon, begins. Actor Roger Moore has always been blamed for the Bond franchise moving away from gritty realism and towards mainstream nonsense, but that’s patently false. Goldfinger is where the shift occurs — the cartoonish villains, the crazy gadgets (the Aston-Martin makes its first appearance), the over-the-top stunts, the endless one-liners, etc., it all started here.
Goldfinger is also the first bona fide blockbuster in the series. Because the movie became such a humongous international hit, subsequent films adopted the structure and tone of this movie. The winning formula remained (almost) unchanged until actor Timothy Dalton took over and things started getting a bit darker again.
If I sound like I’m complaining, I’m not. In my opinion, Goldfinger is one of the most entertaining films in the series. In fact, I never understood viewers who wanted to see a mean 007. I’ve always found the series absolutely ridiculous and Moore’s tongue-in-cheek approach made perfect sense to me, but as I said before, Sean Connery and Goldfinger, not Moore, should be blamed for making the franchise less edgy.
Obviously, director Guy Hamilton (The Mirror Crack’d) has a much lighter touch than his predecessor, the talented Terence Young (he left the series over a salary dispute). Hamilton is able to instill a high level of excitement into the narrative.
Connery seems to be having a good time and he is ably supported by a great cast of character actors. Gert Fröbe is deliciously diabolical as Goldfinger. Harold Sakata is spooky as Goldfinger’s brutal henchman, the aptly named “Oddjob.” The great Honor Blackman (Life at the Top) plays Pussy Galore. Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn, Lois Maxwell return as “M”, “Q” and “Moneypenny” respectively.
Title designer Maurice Binder and production designer Ken Adam (Barry Lyndon) couldn’t work on the film because of scheduling conflicts, but their absences are not too noticeable. You still get to see some great work in these areas. Oscar-winning cameraman Ted Moore (A Man For All Seasons) did return — the film looks great!
The title song, sung by Shirely Bassey, is probably the thing most people remember about the movie. The melody — music by John Barry (Dances with Wolves), lyrics by Leslie Bricusse (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory) and British actor, singer and songwriter Anthony Newley (Dr. Doolittle) — continues to exemplify the rhythm and tonality of a “Bond song.” I’m still shocked that the theme song didn’t receive an Oscar nomination. It really doesn’t get any better than this!
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
Goldfinger is one of my favorite Connery/Bond films. I’m hoping that someday, maybe after Daniel Craig’s exit, we get another “fun” Bond movie like this one — I’m not holding my breath, though. Anyhow, Goldfinger is a super-cool, super-fun action movie that I recommend to everybody! Color, 110 minutes, Rated PG.
James Bond will return