Goldfinger (1964)

















I've had problems with the villains of the first two Bond movies. In "Dr. No" there was a bad guy that you barely saw and in "From Russia with Love" there is no end to the opposition which feels like it crawls out of the walls by the time the film has ended. Yet both those movies were fun and somewhat innocent with their entertainment.
With "Goldfinger" several things in the Bond franchise have changed: the villain is present from the beginning of the movie, the franchise changed director's hands from Terence Young to Guy Hamilton, and the characters are probably the most crassly executed of the Bond movies yet...but I wait, because I've heard stories about the films to come. Bond's world saving abilities are put to use finding a gold smuggler...yes, that's right. Forget the nuclear explosions and the blowing up buildings (one of which that takes place in the movie's prologue); Bond needs to hone his talents in picking out jewelry—it seems like his talent is being wasted. Then again, I don't think anyone is fooled by the gold smuggler, a man named Auric Goldfinger, who loves to win at everything...we all know that he's got something more nefarious planned for the world. By the time that's unleashed the general consensus in my mind sarcastically quipped: "Oh, wow, no one saw that coming." in a voice that may or may not have sounded like Nathan Lane.
While vacationing in Miami, James Bond (Sean Connery again) is told of Goldfinger and his propensity for deftly sneaking gold across countries. The price of gold varies from country to country, so Goldfinger can make himself a lot of money by buying it cheap and selling it for a higher price. The money he earns is no doubtably put back into gold.
Bond is bored with the notion of tailing Goldfinger, so he goes up to the man's hotel room and finds a stereotypical blonde bombshell waiting there. With his smooth ways and charm he seduces the woman back to his room.
Then he gets knocked out by an intruder and awakes to find the woman painted with gold paint, dead on the bed. No body puts Bond in the corner.
Enraged and frankly a little flustered, Bond is given the assignment of finding out what Goldfinger is up to before any more people die or the world ends...which ever comes first.
There are a few things that "Goldfinger" nails that its predecessors failed to do: the villain is clearly established and has a motive—greed, the sanctity of Bond's bedroom is breached when the girl ends up dead (something that has been hinted at in the previous installments but never carried out), and the special effects are finally extremely intriguing.
"Goldfinger" marks Bond's first trip to the Oscars, where the movie took home the award for special effects. It's no wonder when you see the movie, but it makes me wish the film had also been recognized for its art direction and sets.
Then again, there are moments when "Goldfinger" completely fumbles with the ideas that the previous two have cemented. The introduction of Bond's car is really fun and more gadgets are always welcome. Tracking devices, ejector seats, machine guns that come out of the headlights—who doesn't like that?
Still it's hard to take the villain and his sidekick seriously. Goldfinger never really seems in control of the situation like Robert Shaw's blond-haired mercenary was in "From Russia with Love"; and don't get me started on the sidekick.
Too late...
This short, stout man, named "Oddjob" of all things, is a super human. He has strength like a circus performer and his entire body seems to be constructed of invincibility. Yet the stupid, smug grin he wears on his face the whole time is enough to make anyone want to smack him...which could be the desired response. But besides the annoying demeanor he carries himself with, Oddjob's most threatening weapon is his top hat...yes, his top hat. He whips off the head decor and throws it like a deadly discus, and it gets plenty of screen time.
The briefcases filled with tear gas and the smoke screens that billow out the back of Bond's car I'm fine with—the top hat is just too ridiculous for me.
A pair of sisters is featured in the story and then completely forgotten about by the time the movie's end rolls around.
Bond meets the sexy Pussy Galore...insert eye roll here...and he has the instant urge to make love to her as he does with any sexy lady. When you think about Bond, he almost seems like the poster child for Freud's Id, but that's giving the series way too much intelligence. Pussy Galore isn't seduced by Bond, she rejects his advances many, many times. It leads up to a climactic moment when he pushes her the floor in a border-line rape fashion and then she submits to his masculinity.
Besides the fact that "Goldfinger" does have legitimately fun moments, the overwhelming illogical scenarios of the movie weigh it down to the ground.
From invisible nerve gas to hazy motives to a hasty last minute build-up, "Goldfinger" should have been a lot better.
Yet I seem to be one of the only people who feels this way because it's this movie that is again and again credited for why the Bond franchise is great. It features the line "A martini. Shaken, not stirred"; but that doesn't even compare to Bond's first entrance in "Dr. No".
Still, whether it be Pussy Galore or the big bad guy himself, part of me wishes that SPECTRE will come back in the next movie and try to overthrow the world again. Plain ol' greed just seems too simple.







Score: ★★½

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