Goldfinger (1964)

Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger (1964)

Synopsis:

Super-spy James Bond (Sean Connery, The Man Who Would Be King) is sent to Miami Beach, Florida, to keep an eye on a mysterious gold dealer, Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines), who is suspected of running an international smuggling gold operation.

Reaction & Thoughts:

“You’re a woman of many parts, Pussy!”

This is where Bond the pop-culture icon begins. Roger Moore has always been blamed for Bond 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 immediately became such a humongous international hit, subsequent films adopted the structure and tone of this movie. The formula remained (almost) unchanged until Timothy Dalton took over and things started getting a bit darker again.

If I sound like I’m complaining, I’m not. I believe Goldfinger to be one of the best films in the series. In fact, I never understood people who wanted to see a cold and mean-spirited James Bond — author Ian Fleming is no John le Carré. I’ve always found the series absolutely ridiculous. Moore’s tongue-in-cheek approach made perfect sense to me, but as I said before, Sean Connery, not Moore, should take credit for the idea.

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 and cold-blooded 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 in 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 (Out of Africa and Dances with Wolves), lyrics by Leslie Bricusse (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and Victor/Victoria) and British actor Anthony Newley (Dr. Doolittle) — continues to exemplify the rhythm and tonality of a “Bond song.” 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
in
Thunderball (1965)

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