Goldfinger (1964)

“No, Mr. Bond — I expect you to die!”

Synopsis:
British special agent James Bond (Sean Connery) battles against a megalomaniac millionaire named Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) who receives assistance from a Korean henchman named Odd Job (Harold Sakata) and a judo-fighting pilot named Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman) as he plans to radiate all the gold in Fort Knox.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “third and best of the James Bond films starring Sean Connery” stars “two diabolical villains” (“gold-mad Auric Goldfinger… and his invincible henchman, Oddjob”) and features “two sexy women (both of whom work for Goldfinger) to seduce: blonde Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton), who dies when Frobe covers her with gold paint, and brunette ‘Pussy’ Galore (Honor Blackman), a lesbian pilot who falls for Bond’s charms.” He points out that the film is filled with “lots of humor, gimmicks (Bond uses his Aston-Martin’s passenger-ejection seat to get rid of one of the villains), excitement (captured Bond watches a laser beam rip through the table he lies on, nearly zapping his crotch), an amusing yet tense golf contest between Bond and Goldfinger, thrilling fights to the death between Bond and Oddjob and Bond and Goldfinger, and a fascinating central crime: Goldfinger wants to destroy all the gold in Fort Knox to both ruin America’s economy and greatly increase the value of his own gold.”

Peary adds that while this film is “most enjoyable”, it’s “too bad Eaton’s part isn’t longer and that Frobe’s Goldfinger, a heavy but nimble intellectual in the Sydney Greenstreet tradition, never appeared in another Bond film.” Regardless, there’s no denying that this film succeeds on just about every count — though modern viewers will want to be forewarned about the infamously disturbing “consensual rape” scene, and use caution if watching this movie with kids or teens. (Be prepared for a challenging but important discussion, not only about sex and women but about racial depictions.) With that said, Pussy Galore remains one of the delights of powerful women in cinema — she’s mesmerizing in every scene, and she can’t help the screenplay developments her character is saddled with. Best of all, however, are the many seat-clenching action sequences — zowie, is this film filled with them!

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Sean Connery as James Bond (nominated as one of the Best Actors of the Year in Peary’s Alternate Oscars)
  • Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore
  • Gert Frobe as Goldfinger
  • Harold Sakata as Oddjob
  • Ted Moore’s cinematography
  • Many memorable, exciting sequences and locales


  • The thrilling finale
  • John Barry’s score
  • Shirley Bassey’s rendition of the title song

Must See?
Yes, as one of the most enjoyable entries in the Bond franchise.

Categories

(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)

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4 Responses to “Goldfinger (1964)”

  1. Only must-see for Bond film fans.

    A number of ‘Bond Films Ranked’ lists put ‘Goldfinger’ at #1, which perplexes me… since the most recent time I rewatched the film (its blu-ray), I kept fighting sleep. As I noted in my ‘Dr. No’ response:

    [(I also saw ‘Goldfinger’ not that long ago, and found it more or less a bore. For example, for the longest time in the film, absolutely nothing happens. Its set-up is among the slowest in a film of its kind.)]

    But I’ll admit that you can’t go by me. My appreciation of the series, as noted, is limited.

  2. One of the very best Bonds and it’s still under two hours, never feeling padded. It’s also the template used for most films in the series since. A true classic and definitely must see.

  3. Great score, perfect editing … a light espionage soufflé. Sure, it has very, very dated sexual, politics and if you analyse it too much it probably falls apart. But, it actually improves on the ending of the book where Goldfinger and chums load all the gold into trucks and make a break for Mexico.

  4. As a huge fan of the series, I’ve seen it dozens of times, thoroughly absorbed it, and I still don’t feel Goldfinger is the best Bond film. That award, in my opinion, still goes to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service despite it not starring Connery.

    Its chief weakness is in relation to its storyline—it begins to drag when Bond becomes Goldfinger’s prisoner in the middle and the picture effectively keeps him there to the finish. This brings the action close to a halt by limiting his movements, which is largely if not solely why we watch a Bond film. Bond also vanishes from view for lengthy spans of time and there is too much exposition about Goldfinger’s scheme.

    I also agree that the movie has not aged well. It has a kind of ham-handedness to it and possesses less charm and finesse than did Dr. No or From Russia with Love—none of the cast here are particularly memorable or impressive, maybe their whimsical or outright kinky character names, nor are there any great scenes or dialogue to speak of. Whereas Connery was more pleasantly surprised with his good fortune in the previous two movies, here he’s almost gratingly smug.

    There’s no disputing that Goldfinger served as a template for the rest of the series where the scale became much grander. The sets were now elaborate. Merely crafty gadgets in From Russia With Love here became a focal point rivaling Connery’s presence. John Barry’s brass-dominated theme song roared like an elephant, and his lush soundtrack gave a classy sheen to the production.

    It’s essential viewing, but the uninitiated will probably wonder what all the hype is about after an initial viewing.

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