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Goldfinger

Goldfinger is not the first James Bond movie, but it is the prototype for all future ones. It has been ripped off and borrowed from endlessly, and virtually every other film in the Bond series has at least one element dating back to Goldfinger. It stumbles across a formula for entertainment that is as durable as any since the invention of the romantic comedy, yet it still feels fresh and spontaneous because it isn’t following that formula, it’s coming across it organically. At the same time, it has a wily spirit that is unimitable.

Goldfinger is an excellently made movie, but also the product of perfect timing. Only with the artistic (and financial) success of its two predecessors could it have such a well-developed hero while still making room for all sorts of new tricks, like the fantastical gadgets, the globe-trotting locales, the varied supporting characters, and a villain more front-and-center than ever before. In terms of the character of Bond, Dr. No and From Russia With Love did most of the heavy lifting, leaving Goldfinger to reap the benefits.

When it does make time for Bond, the film is most interested in establishing his aristocratic credentials (recall his famous crack about the Beatles, and his lecture to M on the deficiencies of his bourbon) and demonstrating his range when it comes to seducing women. After his more complex performance in From Russia With Love, Connery is free to spend Goldfinger simply turning on the charm.

Sean Connery as James Bond in Goldfinger

Complementing James’ new charm is an assortment of exciting but practical gadgets, a classic car, and a wardrobe classy enough to still look good 50 years later (well, except for the bizarre terry-cloth jumpsuit he wears by the pool). James Bond is no longer a plucky spy, he is now a pop-culture icon. Just as Sean Connery is no longer an actor, but a movie star.

With a number of successful missions under his belt, Bond has a new-found confidence which arrives just in time, as he faces one of the greatest challenges of his career. For the first and arguably only time, he’s faced with a villain he can’t out-wit, and a henchman he can’t out-muscle. After a few early but shallow victories, Bond spends much of the movie in captivity, praying for a miracle until the very end.

Out-smarted by Goldfinger at every turn, Bond seduces his pilot (Pussy Galore) who, in turn, decides to sabotage her employer’s plan. What many people forget is that immediately preceding their tryst, Goldfinger makes a pass at Galore himself, and is politely but definitively rejected. That’s what makes this perhaps the most poignant James Bond moment in the whole series: outwitted by Goldfinger, out-muscled by Oddjob, he finds himself in a one-on-one showdown with Goldfinger in a battle of seduction, and comes out on top. And that, in the James Bond universe, is just what it takes to save the day.

This is foreshadowed earlier, when Bond seduces Goldfinger’s assistant, Jill Masterson. Masterson reveals that she and Goldfinger were strictly platonic, despite his best efforts. When he discovers Bond has had what we could not, he responds with muscle and morbid wit: he paints her gold, killing her, and leaves her in Bond’s bed for him to discover. And when Goldfinger has James captive, in one of the movie’s most famous scenes, towards which part of Bond’s anatomy does Goldfinger’s laser slowly creep?

Laser beam in Goldfinger
“No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.”

Goldfinger is mostly remembered for its iconic, individual moments — the girl painted gold, the thrilling car chase, the laser, the epic gun-fight at the end. But, strong as those parts are, Goldfinger is somehow better than the sum of them.

A+

VerdictGoldfinger is as smart and diabolical as its villain, and as charming and witty as its hero.

Main Villain

Gert Frobe as Auric Goldfinger
  • Name Auric Goldfinger
  • Played By Gert Frobe
  • Distinguishing Features Gold-colored clothing; gold-plated car, gun, golf club and other accessories.
  • BackgroundA successful businessman, jeweler and gold trader who the Bank of England suspects may be smuggling gold across international borders. “He’s British, but he doesn’t sound like it,” says Felix Leiter, referencing his German accent.
  • Sinister Plan Detonating an atomic device in Fort Knox that will leave all the gold therein radioactive, which will in turn make his own considerable gold supplies far more valuable (“10 times more, is my conservative estimate” he says).
  • Hospitality towards James Bond Decent. He initially tries to cut Bond in half with a laser, but once he discovers the potential value of a captive MI6 operative, he treats Bond to a private overseas flight and a relatively relaxing stay at his Kentucky ranch. Bond’s “quarters” are little more than a prison cell, but he is treated to occassional cocktail service.
  • Psychiatric AssessmentGoldfinger is narcissistic, sadistic, antisocial, and mildly schizotypal.
  • Death Sucked out of a shot-out window in a hijacked military jet.
  • VerdictAt first he seems like more of a delightful rascal than a supervillain, until he does something like paint a woman gold or gas a room full of mafia bosses to let you know that he really is quite insane. Like all great movie bad guys, you get the sense that this is fun for him, that, while he’s made millions doing it, he’d still be painting people to death and zapping peoples’ crotches with lasers even if it paid minimum wage.

    Auric Goldfinger is the high-water mark in Bond villains to this very day. Not for how grotesque or mad he is (that can be easily imitated), but because of his cunning. He’s the only villain to convincingly out-smart Bond every step of the way. All of Bond’s enemies have disdain for 007, but Goldfinger’s the only one whose sense of superiority is justified.
    A+

Villainous Lair

  • Location “Auric Stud Farm,” Goldfinger’s horse-rearing ranch in Kentucky
  • Production DesignerKen Adam (for the 2nd of 7 times)
  • VerdictAt first it doesn’t seem that different from a regular ranch (although farms in Kentucky are always a nice thing to have as a place to hide out), but we soon learn it has a number of special features. For one thing, there’s a prison facility underground for storing pesky guests like James Bond. Best of all, though, it has some very impressive multi-media presentation facilities — detailed models rise out of the floor, a pool table turns into a control console, an entire wall flips over and reveals an enormous map of Fort Knox and the surrounding areas, plus cannisters of lethal nerve gas can be deployed at the push of a button, should any particular lecture not go over well.
    B+
Villainous lair of Goldfinger

Top Henchman

Harold Sakata as Oddjob in Goldfinger
  • NameOddjob
  • Played ByHarold Sakata
  • BackgroundHe’s Goldfinger’s assistant, butler, driver, and more (his name is a reflection of his duties). Other than that, not much else is known about Oddjob.
  • SpecialtiesIncredibly strong; reliable; has a top hat with a razor that is sharp enough to sever the head of a stone statue.
  • VerdictIt might seem like no two people could be any different than the mute, Korean Oddjob and the talkative, German Goldfinger, but they are actually kindred spirits: both take a lot of pleasure in their work, both favor eccentric weaponry, and both are good enough at what they do to be a seemingly insurmountable challenge for Bond. 007’s brawling credentials are well-established, but his blows land on Oddjob like a bug lands on a brick wall. It’s only due to his smarts, and a bit of luck, that Bond is able to emerge victorious, when Oddjob’s hat hits a metal grate that Bond electrifies.
    A

Other Notable Associates

Mr. Ling in Goldfinger
  • Mr. LingA Chinese “rogue agent” who develops the atomic device required for Goldfinger’s plan.
  • Various American MobstersWorking independently, but to the same means, gangsters from Chicago and both coasts smuggle Goldfinger’s toxic nerve gas into America via the Mexican border, Canadian border, and various shipping ports. They’ve been promised $1,000,000 for their efforts, but they get a deadly taste of their own nerve gas instead.
  • Old woman with a machine gunGoldfinger’s unconventional factory guard.
    An old woman with a machine gun in Goldfinger

Lead Bond Girl

Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore in Goldfinger
  • NamePussy Galore
  • Played ByHonor Blackman
  • Seems to BeGoldfinger’s private pilot and a key part of his plan to nuke Fort Knox.
  • Turns Out To Be A villain with a heart of gold — she’s the one (not Bond) who puts a stop to Goldfinger’s plan.
  • Frenemy StatusEnemies, at first. By the end they’re working towards a common goal, although she’s never actually that friendly towards Bond.
  • How Far Does James Get? They have a roll in the hay (in both the literal sense and in the sense that ‘roll in the hay’ is a euphamism for having sex) in Goldfinger’s stable.
  • Does James Get Her Killed?No.
  • Verdict Despite her name (which Connery delightfully pronounces as “Pooshy”), Ms. Galore is actually one of the least sexualized Bond girls. She’s no-nonsense, business-oriented (a “damn good pilot” in her words) and more Hildy Johnson than Marilyn Monroe. Or, to put it another way, she’s a broad in a universe otherwise populated by dames. She’s not so much “playing hard to get” as she is genuinely uninterested in Bond (“you can turn off the charm, I’m immune,” she says convincingly). When the seduction finally does go down, she’s the one doing the performing, not James.

    In the battle of wits between Bond and Goldfinger, Ms. Galore breaks the stalemate. Neither Bond, Goldfinger, nor Pussy herself realize it at the time, but it turns out the fate of the world (or at least the fate of America’s gold) lies in the on-going battle for her affection.
    A

Supporting Bond Girl #1

  • NameJill Masterson
  • Played ByShirley Eaton
  • Seems to BeGoldfinger’s mistress/assistant.
  • Turns Out To Be A platonic employee of Goldfinger available for seduction by a handsome spy.
  • Frenemy StatusThey’re well on their way to a beautiful friendship when things go sour.
  • How Far Does James Get? Sleeping with Bond is the last thing she does.
  • Does James Get Her Killed?Yes. When Goldfinger discovers her betrayal, he has her painted gold, causing her to die of “skin suffocation.”
  • VerdictEaton looks pretty good in both her black bikini and her gold paint, but she doesn’t get much else to do.
    N/A
Shirley Eaton painted gold as Jill Masterson in Goldfinger

Supporting Bond Girl #2

Tania Mallet as Tilly Masterson in Goldfinger
  • NameTilly Masterson
  • Played ByTania Mallet
  • Seems to BeA mysterious assassin gunning for James Bond.
  • Turns Out To Be Jill Masteron’s sister, and a really terrible shot, who’s actually looking to get revenge on Goldfinger for painting her sister gold.
  • Frenemy StatusShe is the enemy of Bond’s enemy, but not necessarily his friend, per se.
  • How Far Does James Get? Nowhere.
  • Does James Get Her Killed? Debatable. She does die (via Oddjob’s razor hat), and it is the direct result of James’ actions and instructions, but given her lack of qualifications for the job of killing Goldfinger, it was probably only a matter of time until she was killed on her quest for vengeance.

Supporting Bond Girl #3

Nadja Regin as Bonita in Goldfinger
  • Name Not stated (although the credits list her as “Bonita”)
  • Played ByNadja Regin
  • Seems to BeAn exotic dancer looking for some sexy bathtub action.
  • Turns Out To Be A co-conspirator in a diabolical scheme to hit James Bond on the back of the head with a club.
  • Frenemy StatusSeemingly friend, but actually enemy.
  • How Far Does James Get? 1st-and-a-half base.
  • Does James Get Her Killed? No, just clubbed on the head when he uses her as a human shield.

Supporting Bond Girl #4

Margaret Nolan as Dink in Goldfinger
  • NameDink
  • Played ByMargaret Nolan (Nolan also provides the gold-painted body for the opening credits)
  • Seems to BeJames Bond’s masseuse.
  • Turns Out To Be Just James Bond’s masseuse, it seems.
  • Frenemy StatusFriend.
  • How Far Does James Get? In the movie, no further than a massage, but it’s suggested they have also had “extracurricular” relations.
  • Does James Get Her Killed? No.

Theme Song

Shirley Bassey
  • Title “Goldfinger”
  • Performer Shirley Bassey (for the 1st of 3 times)
  • Rejected Alternatives“Goldfinger” sung by Anthony Newely
  • VerdictProbably the greatest theme song of them all, and certainly the most famous. Bassey’s theatrical, emotional vocals and the slightly rusty horn blasts (plus Jimmy Page on guitar) paint an exciting portrait of a man who “loves only gold.” The smooth segues into the original James Bond theme song are chillingly perfect. Good luck trying to get this song out of your head.
    A

Main Titles

  • Designer Robert Brownjohn (for the 2nd of 2 times)
  • VerdictWhite-on-black credits with clips from the movie projected onto beautiful, golden, ominously un-moving bodies — a perfect idea, perfectly executed. I can’t think of an opening for any movie (Bond or otherwise) that does a better job of setting the stage.
    A

Bondmobile

  • Make & Model Aston Martin DB5
  • Special Features So many. Let’s see here: radar tracker seemingly complete with each city’s road maps (making this, in effect, the first ever GPS device), rotating license plates, machine guns behind the front headlights, bullet-proof rear shield, oil jets in the back, smoke screen, and best all, a passenger seat ejector, which is used to hilarious effect. The car doesn’t last long, but at least it sticks around long enough for Bond to make dramatic use of each and every one of its cool tricks.
  • Does Bond Trash it? Yes. He drives it into a wall after mistaking his own car’s reflection in a mirror for oncoming traffic.
Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger
Tracking device from Goldfinger
  • Device Tracking Device
  • Outward appearance Two small metal rectangles: one (the silver one) slides back to active the tracking; the other one (the gold one) is the actual tracking device itself.
  • Special Features It is magnetic and has a range of up to 150 miles. The signal can be tracked from Bond’s car and MI6 and the CIA have a read on it as well.
  • Usage Bond attaches it to Goldfinger’s car, which leads him to Goldfinger’s gold-melting factory is Switzerland. Later, when in Goldfinger’s captivity, he places the beacon in his shoe so M and Felix Leiter know where he is.
Bird Hat from Goldfinger
  • Device Bird Hat
  • Outward appearance It is a hat with a bird on it. Possibly a duck, or maybe a seagull.
  • Special Features In addition to being fashionable, it allows Bond to swim around unnoticed, appearing to people on land as merely an innocent bird. It also seems to double as a breathing device, with Bond breathing through the bird while underwater.
  • Usage Our very first glimpse of Bond shows him adorned in this nifty chapeau. He’s using it to sneak into an unnamed dictator/drug-dealer’s compound and blow up his “heroine-flavored banana” production facilities.
Tracking device from Goldfinger
  • Device Chemical Warfare Parking Meter
  • Outward appearanceLooks like a regular parking meter.
  • Special Features It emits a (presumably toxic) gas.
  • Usage Bond does not use this device. It is still in development at Q’s laboratory.
  • [After electrocuting someone]
    “Shocking. Positively shocking.”
  • [Canceling his plans to spend the evening with a beautiful woman instead]
    “Sorry, something big’s come up.”
  • “Drinking Dom Perignon ‘53 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit [is] as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs.”
  • [Awaking from being tranquilized]
    “My name’s Pussy Galore.”
    “I must be dreaming”
  • [When a mobster is crushed in a trash compactor]
    “He had a pressing engagement.”
  • [After electrocuting another person]
    “He blew his fuse.”
  • [After Goldfinger is killed]
    “Where is he?”
    “He’s playing his golden harp.”
  • Name M
  • Played By Bernard Lee (for the 3rd of 11 times)
  • What’s New?Nothing of note.
  • NameMiss Moneypenny
  • Played By Lois Maxwell (for the 3rd of 14 times)
  • What’s New?Nothing of note.
  • NameQ
  • Played By Desmond Llewelyn (for the 2nd of 17 times)
  • What’s New?In the past, Q had been confined to dropping by M’s office to explain his new creations, but now we get our first glimpse into his lab, filled with Bond’s new gadgets and a few that are still under development. The relationship between Q and Bond also shifts more towards the one we know today. In the first two films, Bond was very respectful of Q and listened patiently to everything he had to say. This time around, he rolls his eyes, makes jokes, and implies he could probably figure it all out on his own. This, of course, greatly irritates Q (“I never joke about my work, 007”), and thus a comic rapport is born.
Desmond Llewelyn as Q in Goldfinger
Cec Linder as Felix Leiter in Goldfinger
  • NameFelix Leiter
  • Played By Cec Linder (for the 1st and only time)
  • What’s New?He’s no longer played by the guy from Hawaii Five-0, for one thing. Felix first introduces Bond and Goldfinger, keeps an eye on Bond when he’s at Goldfinger’s ranch, and later orchestrates the sting to catch Goldfinger with his hands in the vault.

Main Destination

  • LocationKentucky, USA
  • Local AllyFelix Leiter (see “Old Friends”).
  • Local Ally’s Tragic DemiseFelix doesn’t die, of course.
  • Cultural SensitivityThere’s not really any reference to the culture/people of Kentucky.
  • VerdictThe only glimpses of Kentucky we get are of Goldfinger’s stud farm and the outside of Fort Knox, both of which were actually just sets in Pinewood Studios back in England. Exotic locales were not a priority for this movie.
    N/A

Full Itinerary

Unnamed South American or Latin American country Miami Beach, Florida, USA London, England Kent, England Geneva, Switzerland Baltimore, Maryland, USA Bluegrass Field, Kentucky, USA Fort Knox, Kentucky, USA

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