Sunday Matinee: Goldfinger

goldfinger50 years ago this week, the third James Bond movie, Goldfinger, was released into theatres in the U.K. The Bond films had been extremely popular but with this film, the series became a box office blockbuster. Based on the seventh novel in the Bond series, the film would break records and set the tone for future Bond films for decades to come.

Sean Connery reprises his role as James Bond. After completing his latest mission, destroying a drug lab, Bond ends up in Miami where is ordered by his boss to keep an eye on the aptly named gold dealer Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe). Bond being Bond can’t just sit on stake-out and watch. He notices that Goldfinger has been cheating at gin rummy and that a girl named Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton) is spying on Goldfinger’s opponent and informing Goldfinger of what cards he has. Bond seduces Materson and humiliates Goldfinger into losing some money. Goldfinger responds by knocking Bond out later and killing Materson in a classic scene.

Bond returns home to England to find out what his mission is all about. The Bank of England suspect Goldfinger of smuggling gold out of England. He meets Goldfinger socially for their first face to face and they play a round of golf. Bond discovers Goldfinger is cheating at golf too, the man hates to lose. Afterwards Bond follows Goldfinger to Switzerland where he discovers that Goldfinger is hiding gold in his car and then melting it and sending it elsewhere. But Goldfinger seems to have something else planned. Bond is captured and tortured with a laser. Goldfinger then brings Bond to America where his real evil plan is about to begin. Operation Grandslam.

The film deviates from Ian Fleming’s novel quite a bit but not as much as some of the later Bond movies. In the novel, as with most of Fleming’s novels, there are no gadgets. Goldfinger tries to kill Bond with a table saw not a laser. Goldfinger’s evil plan in the book was steal all the gold in Fort Knox. In the film he’s nuking it to destroy America’s gold reserves and make his worth more. Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman) is a lesbian gangster and not a pilot. The character was changed for the film but the producers reservedly kept the name. In America they didn’t censor the name but they refused to use it in advertising the film. Blackman’s character suddenly became Miss Galore.

This is the film that really started the Bond craze in the 1960’s. It was the first film to really introduce gadgets. Bond’s car, the Aston Martin DB5, is jam packed with toys. Bullet proof windscreens, machine guns, oil slicks, rotating licence plates and of course the ejector seat. It’s also the film, along with Thunderball that really set the Bond formula into motion for the franchise. There’s always a super-villain. He has a henchman, Goldfinger’s case it’s his manservant Oddjob. The latest Bond movie is looking to cast a henchman as we speak. There’s always a victim, a girl or fellow agent that helps Bond out early in the film and then gets killed off by the bad guys. And usually Bond and an army of guys storm the bad guy’s base of operations at the end of the film.

Most people will cite this film as their favourite Bond film. I enjoy it immensely but I’m not sure it’s the best. I think I kind of like From Russia With Love and Dr. No bit more. Still it’s up there.

Author: Shane Hnetka

Shane Hnetka spends most of his life watching movies and reading comic books, using his vast knowledge of genre culture for evil instead of good.