Director Guy Hamilton
Stars Sean Connery, Gert Frobe & Honor Blackman
Things You Might Like
- The first entry where the Bond template is perfected
- Great, quotable dialogue between adversaries
- Entertaining plot/scheme
- Best ever theme song
- Fun gadgets, used sparingly
Things You Might Not Like
- Plot holes Galore
- Semi-rape scene (also Galore)
- Less detection and intrigue than previous entries
- Felix Leiter seems to have aged a lot in two years
Beginning with the first pre-credit Bond mission, including the first gadget packed car and ending with yet another woman in a parachute; this is the Bond film that delivers everything. Nobody does it better and never more so than Goldfinger.
5 out of 5 Golden Fingers
Luke McGrath will return in Thunderball
From the opening scene of Goldfinger, the audience is aware they are watching an evolved edition of the Bond template. As Connery rises out of the water, seagull on head and dinner jacket beneath wetsuit, so too rises the franchise from spy thriller to entertainment giant. The pre-credits mini-mission sets the tone: action, girls and one-liners. In a few minutes screen time, Bond is defined for the next fifty years.
The producers of Goldfinger set out to make the third Bond film the biggest ever, and they delivered. In contrast to From Russia With Love’s slow reveal, Bond is the centre of everything. With Connery firmly established in the role, great credit must go to Gert Frobe for producing a performance that leaves the audience wanting more of the villain. Indeed, if rumour is to be believed, one of the early scripts left Goldfinger free to return – a much better idea than Jaws’ appearance in space it has to be said.
Goldfinger is often thought of as the quintessential Bond, offering everything that is associated with the franchise. With such high regard there is a danger that either memory can be rose-tinted or audiences become too used to hearing it that they rebel. Watching (the impeccably restored) film for the first time in years brings back every reason that it has been lauded so highly since its first release. Yes, the dubbing of Frobe is annoying and the substitution of a middle aged sports journalist for Leiter makes absolutely no sense, but you can forgive a film this good such small slips.
The plot of the film is too well known to waste words discussing here, yet the plot holes remain too often overlooked. While Goldfinger is an impressive villain (all the more so for being a believable businessman rather than SPECTRE madman) his wastefulness is bordering ridiculous. Why, for example, does he order an intricate model of Fort Knox so that he can explain his plan to fellow criminals, only to have them killed? Instead of the model, a laser-equipped shark would have done the job. Similarly, why allow one man to leave the death-meeting only to kill him in a more public way that also ruins a perfectly good car and $1m of gold?
These questions don’t need answers; their existence is proof of Goldfinger’s triumph. With the franchise shifted to entertainment over espionage (after all Bond gets caught a lot), the audience affords a greater suspension of disbelief. With two perfectly formed adversaries, sharing tight and engrossing dialogue, and a constant stream of action, women and one-liners they could have set Goldfinger in space and it would have worked. What’s that? Oh hi Moonraker. Well, maybe not space then.
The only thing that could have been cut from Goldfinger is the particularly annoying caddy attached to Bond in the golf match early on (which is probably the most entertaining game of golf ever filmed, including Tin Cup). While he sniggers away, I like to imagine Goldfinger (who does own the club after all) thinking up wonderful ways to end his service. Possibly including bisection by laser targeted sand-wedge.
Goldfinger is so much more than a perfect Bond film; it is a classic film in its own right. The full array of performances impress, from Connery’s hero to the unsettling performance of wrestler Harold Sakata as the peerless Oddjob (put that in context by imagining The Rock in the same role). Bond is reborn for the first time in Goldfinger, rising from the murky waters of the first two films into the dazzling dinner jacket of the next forty years.
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