James Bond Movie Review: Goldfinger

In honor of the 60th anniversary of James Bond, I’m revisiting and reviewing all the movies. If you haven’t read my review of Dr No, you can do so here. Next up, Goldfinger! Read on for my thoughts on this golden classic that many call the perfect James Bond film.

The Story

James Bond is assigned to investigate one of the wealthiest men in the world, Auric Goldfinger, who is suspected of smuggling England’s gold reserves. Goldfinger’s greed is exceeded only by his disrespect for human life. When his secretary Jill sleeps with Bond, after Bond catches him cheating at cards, Goldfinger has her killed by smothering her with gold paint. The dead girl’s sister is also killed, when she follows Goldfinger to Switzerland and attempts revenge. Bond is captured by Goldfinger’s huge manservant Oddjob, and almost killed by a deadly laser beam. Drugged, he finds himself on Goldfinger’s private jet being flown to America by Pussy Galore. Bond wins overs Pussy and she helps thwart Goldfinger’s plot to rob Fort Knox.

Double-O Insights

Aston Martin loaned the filmmakers the first ever development prototype of the DB5, which they subsequently cut out part of the roof to make the famous ejector seat stunt work

The DB5’s revolving numberplate was an idea of director Guy Hamilton after he received multiple parking tickets in London

Hamilton was told by Gert Fröbe’s agent that he could speak perfect English. On his first day of filming it became apparent that he could not, and so actor Michael Collins was brought in during post-production to dub over Fröbe

The inside of Fort Knox had rarely been seen, and so it was initially decided the film’s fight would take place outside the building. Cubby Broccoli insisted the film enter the building, and said he wanted the interior to resemble a ‘cathedral of gold’

Three weeks prior to release, a crew of three, including Guy Hamilton and Cubby Broccoli, travelled to Fort Knox to film some last-minute shots, including one of a squad of soldiers falling dead

A very young Michael G. Wilson, current co-producer of EON’s Bond films had his film debut as an extra when Pussy Galore’s planes are taking off. He also doubled for Sean Connery in the back of an army truck when the team shot in Fort Knox

My Thoughts

Goldfinger marks the start of Bond-mania. Unfortunately, Ian Fleming didn’t live to see it. According to a documentary included with the Special Edition DVD of the film, he died right before Goldfinger was released. It’s a shame because Goldfinger has the hallmarks of the perfect Bond film.

While watching the two documentaries included with the Special Edition DVD of Goldfinger, I learned quite a few things. Gert Fröbe, who played Goldfinger, did not provide the voice for the character. Director Guy Hamilton asked him to say his lines quickly so he could edit in another actor’s voice. This was done for two reasons: Gert’s accent was so heavy that it was nearly impossible to understand what he was saying, and his command of the English language was limited. I never noticed this before, and it’s really hard to tell that his voice as dubbed. The editing team did a fantastic job with his voice, especially since he has some of the most memorable lines in Bond villain history.

Harold Sakata, a former pro wrestler who played Oddjob, Goldfinger’s hat-flinging henchman, burnt himself during the memorable climax in the movie when he got electrocuted. According to Guy Hamilton, Sakata kept holding on to his hat while the sparks flew, even though he was badly burnt, because he was waiting for Hamilton to yell, “Cut!” That lets you know just how just how tough Sakata really was and his dedication to doing a great job in that role.

Goldfinger also marked the massive merchandising of James Bond. As a KISS fan, I can appreciate this. Goldfinger came out long before KISS, and it set the golden bar for how to properly market and merchandise an entertainment property across countless mediums. Toy cars, shoes, and numerous additional Goldfinger-branded items hit the market and people bought them up ravenously.

Goldfinger made James Bond a pop culture phenomenon. The story is brilliant and well told, replete with car chases, obligatory romantic scenes, and two of the greatest villains in Bond history: Goldfinger and Oddjob. Sean Connery brought Bond to life with a level of confidence and grace that was inspiring. John Barry’s score, which apparently was made rather quickly, was perfectly suited for the story. Shirley Bassey’s rendition of “Goldfinger” was the first big-time Bond theme, and it still packs a punch to this day. Ken Adam’s production design of Fort Knox was impressive considering the filmmakers had almost no access to see what it actually looked like inside. The laser used in the unforgettable “No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die!” scene was a first for cinema. This movie is the perfect classic James Bond film and one that everyone should see, preferably more than once.

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