Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Goldfinger (1964)

007's third outing is where he truly became a cinematic icon.  Boasting even more action and spectacle than the previous two, Goldfinger is quite simply iconic.  Great villains, great girls, great action, this set the template for the character.  Let's take a closer look.
  • This is one of those films that is honestly a little hard to discuss, simply because just about every aspect of the movie has been looked at from every possible direction.  It truly laid the groundwork for the rest of the series in terms of story structure, tone and content.  If Dr. No was a spiced up detective story and From Russia with Love was an adrenaline fueled Hitchcock film, Goldfinger is pure over the top escapist fantasy at its bear-best.
  • Right from the start, things are a little more heightened and over the top as the first five minutes of the film give you a sexy woman, Sean Connery getting an utterly cool movie star entrance, a peppy fight in a bathroom and even something getting blown up real good.  And all before the great Shirley Bassey theme song.
  • The screenplay is a terrific adaptation of the novel, keeping the basic plot setup and events (James Bond vs. a deranged rich guy who wants to rob Fort Knox in order to increase the value of his gold) but adding some cool cinematic touches that make it work as a fun action movie.
  • Connery is just utterly cool here, I don't think he even raises his voice once for the entire running time, even when trying to bargain with the bad guy.
  • Gert Frobe is fantastic as Goldfinger, over the top but in an oddly restrained way.  Harold Sakata is equally effective as our henchman for the evening, Oddjob.  Together they make for a formidable villainous duo with Frobe exuding a ruthless intelligence and Sakata just being awesomely intimidating.
  • Gotta love just how casually Bond screw with Goldfinger's card cheating scheme and then moves on to seducing his girlfriend (Shirley Eaton).  Naturally this leads to another iconic moment when Bond finds Eaton covered in gold paint.
  • Always found Bond's crack about The Beatles to be amusingly odd.  So sad when you see sixties icons opposed to one another.  Can't we all just get along?
  • Love the gadget laden Aston Martin, yet another iconic bit of the film.
  • I don't know how director Guy Hamilton and company did it but they somehow managed to make a golf game tense and interesting.  Hell, it might be the best damn sequence in the entire movie in terms of sheer viewer joy.  Connery and Frobe just play the whole thing wonderfully.
  • Bond tailing Goldfinger works fairly well, giving Bond a chance to show off some of his car's gadgets when he meets Tilly (Tania Mallet), the sister of Jill, our golden girl from Miami.  The ensuing stuff at Goldfinger's factory is quite good with a fantastic car chase (they keep it short and sweet and the ending is fun) and the famous scene where Bond is nearly cut in half with a laser.
  • Honor Blackman is pretty solid as main Bond Girl Pussy Galore.
  • To be honest, the film does sort of drag once Bond is captured and taken to Kentucky.  There are plenty of good moments but it's a little odd to have a James Bond film where Bond more or less sits on his ass for a good stretch of time.  Hell, he only really becomes active in foiling Goldfinger's plan after the man has already broken into Fort Knox.
  • The twist of the bad guy merely irradiating the gold in Fort Knox as opposed to trying to steal it is quite neat.  I also get a kick out of Goldfinger's long speech to the gangsters.
  • The funny thing about these gangsters though is just how hammily jumpy they are.  I'd like to think that most mobsters are made of sterner stuff.  Wouldn't surprise me if Goldfinger decided to gas them all after the meeting just so he wouldn't have to listen to them anymore.
  • The film picks back up at Fort Knox with a nice showdown between the army and Goldfinger's men while Bond fights with Oddjob before trying to stop an atomic bomb from going off.  The fight is suitably epic, I'd say it matches the fight with Grant from the previous film.
  • The epilogue with Bond fighting Goldfinger on a small plane is a nice way to round things up and the death of the villain is quite satisfying.
Goldfinger represents the moment where the James Bond films became iconic.  The film has some flaws, yes, but it's still a top notch spy thriller with loads of great moments and a pair of awesome bad guys.   Goldfinger is the culmination of the development set up by the first two movies.  With the character and formula for the series in place, the makers of the movies were set to try and top themselves.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.