Connery Tribute: Goldfinger (1964)–Bond No. 3 (Best in the Series)

In Goldfinger, the third James Bond film, after Dr. No and From Russia With Love, the James Bond format was consolidated and refined, proving to be as historically enduring as it was commercially popular.

Grade: A (***** out of *****)

Goldfinger
On a black background, a woman in underwear painted gold stands on the left. An image of Bond and a woman is projected on the right side of the woman's body. On the left is a phrase of the tagline: "James Bond Back in Action". Below is the title and credits.

U.K. theatrical release poster by Robert Brownjohn

“Goldfinger” became the first Bond picture to have grossed more than $100 million world-wide, $124,9 million to be exact, of which almost half ($51.1 million) came from the U.S. alone.

U.S. theatrical poster

Later Bond films continued to rely on the ingredients of “Goldfinger” formula, from the characters (hero, women, and villains) to the campy one-liners to the humor to the torture to the expensive sets, touristy sites, and gimmicky special effects. As a result, James Bond became a big business, and the longest film franchise in film history. With its elaborate production values, “Goldfinger” became the blueprint upon which many of the latter Bond films were patterned.

“Goldfinger” contains more satisfying, crowd-pleasing moments and memorable images than its two predecessors, among them Oddjob’s flying bowler, a laser beam that almost emasculates Bond, lavishly accessorized Aston Martin DB5, and the creepy murder of Bond’s secretary, Jill Masterson (played by Shirley Eaton).

The Formula’s Ingredients

There was the arch villain, Goldfinger (Gert Frobe), a self-possessed megalomaniac with vast reserves of power, money, and personnel. Goldfinger operates out of secret headquarters all over the world, planning on depleting the world’s gold supplies by stealing off the reserves at Fort Knox.

Villain’s Assistant

Then there was his grotesque assistant, an oriental assassin named Oddjob (Harold Sakata), a colorful character who always dresses in formal wear and dispatches his victims with a lethal hat that decimates any object it’ s thrown at.

The Beauty

In league with comic book villains was a frigid beauty, Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman), who operates a flying circus to be used for the raid on Fort Knox. She is spared the fate of the other villains only because she lets herself be seduced by Bond after an S&M judo match, in which they try to kill (before making love to) one another.

Attitude toward Women

Bond’s attitude toward women would become a controversial topic a few years later, when feminists claimed they were largely brainless sex objects. In “Goldfinger,” Bond courts two blonde sisters, Jill (Shirley Eaton) and Tilly (Tania Mallett) Masterson. Both women are killed by the villains due to their connection with Bond.

Bond as Icon

As portrayed by Sean Connery, James Bond embodied the 1960s image of what a real male should be and look. In the pages of the era’s most popular men’s magazine, “Playboy,” he’s depicted as casual with women and more interested in technical gadgets than people. With its innuendos, “Goldfinger” offered a cool, liberated hero who was perfectly in tune with an era of growing violence and sexual promiscuity. As a person, Bond displayed personality traits that would become essential to any of the decade’s heroes: Cynicism and professionalism. Cool and urbane, Bond drove Aston Martin and wore elegant black tuxedos.

Bond’ companions in adventure proved as popular as the hero himself. There was “M” (Bernard Lee), the serious commander who dispatches Bond on each new exploit. Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell), the sexy receptionist who disguises her attraction to Bond with a nasty sense of humor. “Q” (Desmond Llewelyn) was the old gadget-maker who perfects Bond’s advanced weaponry.

Other Ingredients

The colorful settings ranged from Miami Beach to the Swiss Alps. The humor was sardonic and sadistic. The drama was pulp fiction.

Score and Song

The musical score by John Barry was melodic and proper, and the classy title song, written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newly, was delivered rather than just sung by the great Shirley Bassey in a terrific and exciting manner.

There were always striking images, such as the gilding of Shirley Eaton by the villains, which became a memorable moment in film history.

Background

The first James adventure, “Dr. No.,” was released in the summer of 1962, introducing an unknown actor named Sean Connery in the title role as Agent 007, a member of Her Majesty’s Secret Service, a man licensed to kill anyone. There was another striking newcomer, Ursula Andress, cast as Bond’s love interest.

The medium-budget film proved popular, launching the careers of both leads to international stardom. She became one of the first movie stars to pose in the nude for Playboy, setting a trend that other actresses would follow. For better or worse, it made Andress the prototype for all Bond women or Bond girls as they became known.

Connery played Bond again in “From Russia With Love.” With violence escalating in real life, the public seemed to accept that Bond, the new pop culture hero, would be a man who uses violent means to achieve his goals.

Oscar Alert

“Goldfinger” received the Oscar Award for Best Sound Effects, orchestrated by Norman Wanstall.

Credits

Produced by Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli.
Screenplay: Richard Maibaum and Paul Dehn, based on the novel by Ian Fleming

Directed by Guy Hamilton.
Cinematography: Ted Moore.
Editing: Peter Hunt.
Music: John Barry.
Production Design: Ken Adam.
Art Direction: Peter Murton.
Special Effects: John Stears.

Cast

James Bond (Sean Connery)
Goldfrlger (Gert Frobe)
Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman)
Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton)
Tilly Masferson (Tania Mallett)
Oddjob (Harold Sakata)
“M” (Bernard Lee)
Solo (Martin Benson)
Felix Leiter (Cec Linder)
Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell)
“Q” (Desmond Llewelyn)

Previous James Bond reviews:

Dr. No (1962): www.emanuellevy.com/review/dr-no-first-james-bond/

From Russia With Love (1963): www.emanuellevy.com/review/from-russia-with-love-1963/

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