The 007 Series: Goldfinger (1964)

Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger (1964)


Special agent James Bond (Sean Connery, The Man Who Would be King) is sent to Miami Beach, USA, to keep an eye on 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:

“A martini, shaken, not stirred.”

This is where Bond the pop-culture icon really begins. Roger Moore has always been criticized for Bond’s moving away from gritty realism and towards mainstream nonsense, but that’s patently false. Goldfinger is where the shift occurs — the unbelievable gadgets (the Aston-Martin makes its first appearance), the endless one-liners and sexual innuendos (“you’re a woman of many parts, Pussy!”), etc., it all started here (how can you take a movie seriously with unrealistic character names like “Pussy Galore”?).

Producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman were clearly eager to expand the franchise’s demographics and the experiment worked better than expected. This is the first bona fide blockbuster in the series. Because the movie became such a humongous international hit, every subsequent film, more or less, follows the structure and tone of Goldfinger, that is, until Timothy Dalton (The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill) took over and things started getting a bit darker again.

If I sound like I’m complaining, I’m not. This is one of the best films in the series. In fact, I never understood people who want to see a mean-spirited Bond. Ian Fleming is no John le Carré. I’ve always found the series absolutely ridiculous — mindless entertainment of the highest order. Moore’s tongue-in-cheek approach makes perfect sense, but as I said before, Connery, not Moore, should take credit for the idea.

Director Guy Hamilton (The Mirror Crack’d) has a much lighter touch than his predecessor Terence Young (he left the series over a salary dispute). Hamilton is able to instill a high level of excitement into the narrative without resorting to cruelty. Connery seems to be having a good time and he is ably supported by Fröbe, Harold Sakata as henchman Oddjob, and the great Honor Blackman as Pussy. Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn, Lois Maxwell return as “M”, “Q” and “Moneypenny” respectively.

Title designer Maurice Binder and production designer Ken Adam (Barry Lyndon and Agnes of God) couldn’t work in the film because of scheduling conflicts, but their absences are not too noticeable. You still get to see some good if not great work in these areas. Cinematographer Ted Moore (A Man For All Seasons and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie ) did return and he gives us more solid work.

The title song, sung by Shirely Bassey, is probably the thing most people remember about the movie. Composed by John Barry (Born Free and Out of Africa) and with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse (Scrooge and Victor/Victoria) and Anthony Newley (Doctor Dolittle and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory), this melody continues to exemplify the rhythm and tonality of a “Bond song” — it just doesn’t get better than this!

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Goldfinger is my favorite of the Connery Bond films. It’s also one of the best, most entertaining movies in the franchise. 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. Color, 110 minutes, Rated PG.

James Bond will return
Thunderball (1965)


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