Director: Guy Hamilton
Cast: Sean Connery, Honor Blackman, Gert Frobe, Shirley Eaton, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn, Lois Maxwell, Harold Sakata
Plot: Bond (Connery) helps the CIA spy on suspected gold smuggler, Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe), who’s ambitions go a little further than smuggling a bit of gold…
When people look back on the classic Bond movies, I strongly believe that Goldfinger is the film that the majority will see as the perfect Bond movie. We are given Sean Connery at his best as Bond (he has got the slick secret agent role in the bag by now), a terrifically wicked villain, a strong-willed, seductive Bond girl and explosive spy action. It doesn’t hurt that Goldfinger features one of the most iconic henchmen and cars in cinematic history. While From Russia with Love may have put Bond on the map, Goldfinger is the film that cemented the franchise in the history books.
The film opens up and we are immediately treated to a fantastic opening sequence, where Bond comes straight from blowing up a drug laboratory to a party, where he instantly jumps into bed with a woman. Then, after Shirley Bassey’s beautiful theme song, we catch up with Bond in a hotel, enjoying some well-earned time off. He bumps into CIA friend, Felix Leiter, who is spying on Auric Goldfinger at the hotel. Bond joins in, mischievously, Connery suggesting that he is enjoying meddling with the greedy smuggler’s crimes. However, enjoyment is pretty much ripped from the adventure, when Goldfinger kills off love interest, Jill Masterson. Then Bond latches onto Goldfinger and doesn’t stop, until the villain’s plan is nothing but a bad memory.
Goldfinger is home to pretty much all of the iconic Bond trademarks, turning viewing this film into something akin to a game of bingo. We have the Aston Martin DB5’S first appearance, the girl murdered by being painted gold, Oddjob’s razor-sharp bowler hat… The list could go on for a while. Hamilton takes Fleming’s novel and gives it cinematic justice, which is a tough decision, seeing as it is one of the more loved novels in the collection. However, Hamilton pulls it off, giving us a slick spy thriller, taking the detective style of Dr No, but adding the pace of ‘From Russia With Love’. If ‘From Russia With Love’ felt a little lacking in some of the classic Bond elements, ‘Goldfinger’ will be much more up your street.
There are also several red herrings when it comes to who the Bond girl would be. Of course, no one expected Jill Masterson to live through the entire running time of a Bond movie, although we weren’t expecting such an early and gruesome death. Then we have Tilly Masterson, Jill’s sister, hunting Goldfinger to exact revenge. She seems like a pretty solid bet for the lead heroine, channelling the ferocity of Honey Ryder. However, there is a pretty shocking moment, when she is swiftly dispatched by Oddjob, when Bond promises to look after her. It is a low moment, letting the audience know that justice won’t be delivered in an exact format. The optimistic nature of Bond is thrown into doubt at this point and the audience is glued even more firmly to their television sets.
I could be blamed for just spoiling that little twist, but odds are you all know who the Bond girl will turn out to be. Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore is one of the more memorable Bond girls, mainly due to Blackman being the first actress truly capable of handling a Bond girl role. She is the pawn in Goldfinger’s plans, who learns that he has planned for her to die in the assault as Fort Knox, so she turns on him, helps Bond and pretty much symbolises the turning point in the action. Some may feel rubbed up the wrong way by how easily seduces her. In the book, she is a lesbian, although Hamilton only implies it here. Still, Bond has his way with her pretty quickly, when she is meant to be a villain. Feminists may fume, but if you are just here to enjoy a fun action, then this pet peeve won’t bother you in the slightest.
Goldfinger’s greatest success is having a climax worthy of the rest of the film. Dr No had a tiny showdown to wrap up the story and if we were to nit-pick with ‘From Russia With Love’, we could blame it for peaking a little too soon. Goldfinger ends with an all-out war in Fort Knox, where Bond fights the first opponent to completely outmatch him physically. Watching Oddjob easily take care of Bond has us on the edge of our seats, especially with the bomb ticking away in the background. Despite Bond being the unstoppable hero of this era, Hamilton does a good job of making us fear of the agent’s life in the final few scenes.
Final verdict: Non-stop action and several trademarks added to the Bond history books. When looking back on the Bond films of old, Goldfinger will remain near the top of the list.