Well, after a few days away, I am back with the next Bond review. Today, we will focus on, what many, consider to be the best Bond ever, Goldfinger. After the complicated story of From Russia with Love, this film opts for a much simpler plot. Bond is hired to investigate gold magnate Auric Goldfinger, a man the British Government believes is involved in illegal gold smuggling. However, as Bond investigates further, he discovers that Goldfingers plans are far grander. Goldfinger intends to irradiate the gold in Fort Knox, to collapse the Western Economy, and drive his own gold prices up.
I was actually quite surprised to realise that I had never seen Goldfinger before. I thought I had seen it growing up, but as it turns out, I was getting it mixed up with multiple other Connery entries. However, I feel that this gives me a unique perspective on the film. Personally, I was disappointed with this film. Maybe this was because I was expecting too much, but I felt that there were a few major problems with the plot. I do think that the first half of this film is very well constructed, and I deeply enjoyed the ending of the film. However, just after Bond is placed into his most famous death-trap and Goldfinger utters the immortal words, “No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die”, something goes wrong.
After this, Goldfinger allows Bond to live, on the grounds that he can learn more from him alive. This is fair enough, but it doesn’t explain why he allows Bond to walk around his estate. Eventually he does lock Bond up, but by this point Bond has done most of the damage he could inflict. I understand that Bond villains are theatrical, and want to kill Bond in the most ridiculous ways, but this just makes Goldfinger come across as insane. For some reason, this section of the film really bothered me.
With all of that being said, I did not hate this film. As of this point, nothing even needs to be said about Connery; he is absolutely perfect in the role. Gert Fröbe does bring a menacing presence to the role of Goldfinger, stupidity aside. Within this role, Fröbe forms the basic building blocks that all Bond Villains will follow afterwards.
Honor Blackman brings a excellent performance to the role of Pussy Galore. She comes across as a very strong character, and very competent at what she does, although there is one scene she is in that is incredibly uncomfortable to watch with modern eyes (you’ll know the scene when you see it).
Despite having no real dialogue to speak of, Harold Sakata gives a stunning performance in the role as Oddjob. Sakata brings a truly intimidating feel to the character. Watching him on screen, you feel that he is a true challenge for Bond to overcome.
Cec Linder takes up the role of Felix Leiter for this entry. While he doesn’t have a lot to do throughout the film, he does imbue Felix with a degree of charm, and you understand why Bond is close to him.
Finally, it is in this entry to the franchise, that we are properly introduced to Desmond Llewelyn as Q. While he was in From Russia with Love, the characteristics of Q were not present, and he is not even referred to as Q. Llewelyn brings a dry wit to the role that is instantly recognisable and utterly memorable. On top of all of this, it is this film that Q introduces us to Bond’s definitive car, the Aston Martin DB-5.
Terrence Young sits this entry out, and Director Guy Hamilton takes up the director’s chair. Within this film, Hamilton pioneers the idea of opening a Bond film on a short, almost unrelated action scene, before leading into the title sequence. This small addition goes on to be a tradition, held by all Bond films after this. Hamilton brings some personal touches to his direction, but wisely chooses to follow the directing style set out by Young, lending smoothness to the transition.
In the end, I didn’t hate Goldfinger, I just feel that it didn’t live up to expectations. I do feel that it is better than Dr. No, but not quite as good as From Russia with Love. With that being said, it is an important film in the franchise, as it fully solidified the template for Bond’s world. I guess when it comes to my standards though, the world is not enough.
Written by James Campbell