Dec 14, 2012

[Movies] Goldfinger (1964)

Without a doubt, Goldfinger is probably one of the best-known James Bond movies, especially from the Sean Connery era. And that's not a surprise at all given the movie's many diverse elements including high action, quirky gadgets and a rather memorable movie villain. There's nothing quite like obsession to help define your evil mastermind.

Over the years, this is the one James Bond movie that I most remember seeing parts of and yet never truly sitting through from start to finish. You know how it is - it just seems to always be playing on one movie channel or another and yet you always catch it mid-way or while channel surfing to something else. And since the movie has been around for as long as it has, you also keep thinking that you can defer it for another day.

So I finally made sure to sit down to see it for real as part of my on-going efforts to watch all of the James Bond movies. And it was definitely a lot of fun.

Synopsis: Goldfinger is the third movie in the James Bond franchise as again based on an Ian Fleming novel of the same name. The movie was directed by Guy Hamilton with a screenplay by Richard Maibaum and Paul Denn. This was also the first James Bond movie to win an Academy Award - in this case for Best Sound Effects.

This movie starts with James Bond (Sean Connery) in the middle of a mission - to take out a drug laboratory. But after he completes his mission and enjoys some R&R at Miami Beach, he is contacted by a CIA Agent Felix Leiter (Cec Linder) with his next mission from M (Bernard Lee), his superior in MI6. They want Bond to observe gold bullion dealer Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe), who just so happens to be staying at the same Miami Beach resort.

Bond initially manages to, well, seduce Goldfinger's aide Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton) in their first meeting, but she is eventually punished most severely in what remains one of the movie's most iconic scenes. She is painted entirely with gold paint which eventually kills her through epidermal suffocation. And thus Bond is truly on the case of determining how Goldfinger smuggles his gold around the world. And the best way to do this is to confront his adversary rather directly.

And while the plot of From Russia With Love felt a bit more substantial for me, this does not mean that the story behind this movie wasn't compelling ether. While in the prior movie the story took dominance, I felt the central villain was a bit more iconic in this regard. And don't get me started on that golf game! We can never truly forget Goldfinger.

The movie upped the ante in a number of different ways. Of course there's the increased use of tricky gadgets and things of that nature -  something that naturally comes with bigger budgets and such. And let's face it - none of us will ever forget his tricked out Aston Martin. And the movie also had the interesting distinction of Bond coming into contact with his arch-nemesis not just early in the movie, but repeatedly. And yet every time Bond resurfaces alive and well, you have Goldfinger taking it all in stride. Now that's a truly classy villain.

I did appreciate how Goldfinger's main plan become more and more complex over time. Naturally we all thought that it would just be some sort of gold heist on a grand scale. But again his plans were more complex than that. Not necessarily realistic when you think about it, but on the whole still a more fulfilling master plan that would cause a heck of a lot more damage around the world.

And Goldfinger certainly had a most interesting retinue. Of course there's Oddjob (Harold Sakata), which his equally iconic and yet also ridiculous main weapon - that being a bladed hat. But the greater focus naturally tuns to Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman), who is probably my favorite Bond Girl thus far. Not only is she far more than just a pretty face given she is quite the skilled pilot and the leader of her own all-female hit squad. And she's quite the compelling character for a wide variety of reasons that are better experienced more than described in a review.

Goldfinger is definitely one of the most fun Bond movies that I've encountered and I understand why so many people find it to be a favorite. It's definitely going to remain in my top 5 at the very least, and thus I happily rate it as 5 hobbies that Goldfinger seems to maintain out of a possible 5.

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