- Directed by Guy Hamilton
- September 17, 1964 (London, premiere) / September 18, 1964 (UK) / December 22, 1964 (US)
- Based on the 1959 novel Goldfinger by Ian Fleming
James Bond is tasked with investigating gold smuggling by gold magnate Auric Goldfinger and uncovers a dangerous plot.
Goldfinger is quite possibly one of the finest James Bond films if not only of Sean Connery’s run but the whole series. It contains just about everything audiences have come to know and love from the original run of James Bond. Exotic locations. Beautiful women. And a title track that opens the film.
The character of Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe) borders on a bit campy in what he is and does. He loves gold and loves it in the way a comic book character might. He has blondish hair and his clothing as gold. There is gold everywhere in is life. If you’ve ever seen images of Donald Trump’s New York apartment you get an idea of what I’m talking about.
Through Fröbe’s physical performance and actor Michael Collins’s dubbing (one of the best examples of film dubbing ever) Goldfinger became a genuine threat to the character of Bond. Despite being comically obsessed with gold (and essentially a themed villain) he is evil and intelligent and just fun to watch.
Then there is also the iconic murder of Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton) who is Goldfinger’s aide-de-camp and the first woman that Bond seduces in the movie. She’s essentially an innocent victim in the whole thing as she hangs with Goldfinger for appearances on his part as well as helping him cheat at cards. And perhaps in one of the most famous screen deaths she is she is covered in gold pain and dies from the urban legend of “skin suffocation.” Bond on his part is more shaken that he got conked on the head and left with a dead body than anything over a murder.
Bond sets about from the first moments he connects to Goldfinger’s existence creating chaos for the villain. Now that I think about it Bond’s actions were almost like he decided to screw with the guy just for laughs. He only really knew that Goldfinger was up to something questionable and decided to get Goldfinger to throw the card game he was trying to cheat.
Goldfinger contains probably one of the best exchanges in any James Bond films. And I dare say it connects to probably one of the first genuinely over-the-top villain ideas in a Bond movie. Bond is strapped to a gold slab with the industrial laser cutting up to his towards his crotch. “Do you expect me to talk?” “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!” Just great and a moment that not only encapsulates the hero but also the villain. That is one of many great quotes and scenes from this movie.
There are a handful of Bond women along the way but the most significant in the movie is the wonderfully named Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman). “Who are you?” “My name is Pussy Galore.” “I must be dreaming.” Despite the double entendre name, she’s a rather well-done character who while she is there to ultimately be conquered by Bond is an intelligent character that plays an important part in the story. She’s not vapid and empty-headed waiting to be boned by our hero even though the power of his penis does bring her to the side of good.
One thing that struck me the first time I saw it (and I’ve seen this a few multiple times over the years since) is something that happens in the finale of the movie. Goldfinger’s plot is not to rob Fort Knox but to aid the Chinese in making the gold supply there inaccessible for several decades. Part of that involves gassing the soldiers in the area. As Pussy Galore and her cadre of female pilots release the gas over the area and the soldiers fall down in some of the worst acting you will see anywhere. In the context of the movie they were faking being gassed. I am curious if this was a choice on the part of the director or a happy accident.
The audacity and over top the top nature of the story and the general sense of fun yet things being treated seriously is a quality that few films have managed to pull off. Yet this does it so effortlessly. The stakes are high but there just a sense of enjoyability about the whole thing. There is style and panache in the film. And there is excitement and the villain seems genuinely evil to the point of twirling his mustache but not in a way that feels bad or cheesy.
The dialogue is snappy and well delivered. And at points there seems to be a real appreciation of the villain for the hero and vice versa. That doesn’t mean they can be chums but they do understand what they are up against. It’s a character trait we don’t often see in film. Just because you can admire the audacity of a plan or the skill of a nemesis does not mean you actually support what they’re doing.
Goldfinger is a great Bond film as well as probably the finest of Sean Connery’s run. It has action and excitement and beautiful women and great locations and it’s just so stylish and well put together. It is a must see for all James Bond fans as well as fans of good films.