Thursday, January 5, 2012

Goldfinger

For those of you just tuning in, I'm in the process of writing about all of the early Bond movies in chronological order. Goldfinger is the third film to star Sean Connery as 007, and if Dr. No started the ball rolling, and From Russia with Love formed the template that all Bond movies are built upon, then this is the movie that refined it to an art form.

This time around James Bond is on the trail of Auric Goldfinger, a gold-obsessed businessman (in the business of gold), with plans to increase his riches by devaluing the gold in Fort Knox. Gert Frobe plays Goldfinger, who is quite possibly the quintessential evil mastermind in a James Bond movie. The oft quoted line "No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die." is spoken by Goldfinger.

Though I had never seen Goldfinger before, so much of it has bled its way into pop culture that I already knew a bunch of it. Bond girl Jill Masterson, murdered by being coated in gold paint. Korean mute assassin/footman Oddjob and his razor sharp throwing hat. Bond being cuffed to a table while a laser slowly climbs its way toward his junk. And of course, the most famous Bond girl of all, "Pussy Galore".

This particular adventure is more of a standalone side mission to Bond's ongoing dealings with the sinister criminal organization, SPECTRE. No reference is made to his defeat of Dr. No or their revenge attempt in From Russia with Love. I like that; it shows us that James Bond doesn't just deal with one enemy. SPECTRE is just one of many international threats bearing down upon us.

Several Bond traditions are established or elaborated upon in Goldfinger, too. The opening credits are projected upon sexy ladies once again, a tradition started in From Russia with Love, but for the first time, the movie's title theme is played over it. The song, Goldfinger, is, of course, one of the most famous Bond themes. M, Moneypenny, and Q all make their standard appearances. Bond's flirtation with Miss Moneypenny continues, as well as a running hatrack gag established in Dr. No. CIA agent Felix Leiter also appears, though he is played by a different actor who doesn't even remotely resemble Jack Lord.

Also of note, for the first time, we get a sequence inside Q's massive weapon-testing warehouse, seeing background gags of stuntmen getting sprayed with flamethrowers while Q is talking with Bond. Bond's tricked out Aston Martin makes its first appearance in this scene, too.

Now we all know these early 007 films can be pretty damn politically incorrect at times, and downright misogynistic at others, right? Well, Goldfinger may contain the worst thing I've ever heard James Bond say. Before a meeting, he dismisses the girl he's with by telling her it's time for some "Man talk", and then smacks her ass as she goes! Whoa!

The stunts, fights, and chases in Goldfinger are spectacular. We get to see everything his car can do. The final showdown in Fort Knox with Oddjob is one of the greats. For the first time in the series, Terence Young steps aside as director. His replacement is Guy Hamilton, who is more than able to fill Young's shoes.

Goldfinger is definitely one of the best James Bond films ever made. I still love Dr. No for its lower budget, more stripped down, edgier feeling. But when it comes to the more familiar over the top spectacle that we've all come to expect from 007 films, Goldfinger is the gold standard. See what I just did there?

James Moore will return with his review of THUNDERBALL.

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