Goldfinger (1964): James Bond No. 3–Ingredients of the Formula

In Goldfinger, the third (and for me, the best) James Bond film, following Dr. No and From Russia With Love, the Bond format was consolidated and refined, proving itself to be as enduring as commercially popular.

Later Bond films would 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 future Bond films would be patterned.

As the third installment, Goldfinger contains more crowd-pleasing moments and memorable images than its two predecessors.

For starters, you may remember Oddjob’s flying bowler, the laser beam that almost emasculates James Bond, the lavishly accessorized Aston Martin DB5, and the indelibly creepy murder of Bond’s secretary, Jill Masterson (played by Shirley Eaton), whose corpse is shown covered with gold spray.

Ingredients of the James Bond Formula

Arch Villain

The tale’s arch villain, Goldfinger (Gert Frobe), lends the movie its title, which is unusual. He is a  colorful one, 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: Oddjob

The villain had a grotesque assistant, an oriental assassin named Oddjob (Harold Sakata), a man who’s almost always dressed in formal wear, dispatching his victims with a lethal hat that decimates any object it is thrown at.

Sex and Beauty: Pussy Galore

In league with the comic-book type of villains was a beauty, or the sex/romantic interest.  In this movie, it was 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 incredibly campy S&M judo match, in which Bond and Pussy try to kill one another, before realizing that it’s better and more fun to make love, which they end up doing.

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 blond 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 the action-adventure sequences needed to be 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.

Exotic Settings:

The colorful exotic settings, ranging from Miami Beach to the Swiss Alps, offer vistas to the eyes, as well as allowing Bond to engage in outdoor secens, often involving car chases.

Humor and Wit

The humor in the James Bond films serves as comic relief, a functional counterpart to the more dramatic and suspenseful.  In tune with the changing mores of the 1960s, the sense of humor is sardonic and and even sadistic.

Score and Song

The musical score by John Barry was appropriately melodic and memorable. 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.

Striking Images

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

Background and Context

The first James Bond adventure, Dr. No, was released in the summer of 1962, introducing a relatively 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, and introduced in white mini bikini.  She became one of the first movie star to pose in the nude for Playboy, setting a trend that other actresses would follow. For better or worse,  Andress the prototype for all Bond women, or “Bond girls,” as they became known.

Violence

With violence escalating in real life, the public seemed to accept the notion that James Bond, the new pop culture hero, would suitably be a relentlessly tough guy who doesn’t hesitate to use violent means to achieve his goals.

Oscar Alert

Goldfinger received the Oscar Award for Best Sound Effects, which were 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)