Goldfinger (1964) Nick Burton Film & Screenwriting

videocam Goldfinger (1964)

reviewed by Nick Burton

Published in Issue No. 36 ~ May, 2000

I love the Sean Connery Bond films, particularly Goldfinger and
as they represent the point where the Bond series was still in the twilight
zone between Ian Fleming’s idealized exploits of a British intelligence
agent and a knowing self-parody of its own milieu. The Connery Bonds,
after all, are the best secret agent parodies ever made, despite what
all you Austin Powers fans say. (Can you please stop doing those Dr. Evil
impressions now? Thank you.) Unfortunately, the Bond series gradually
began to draw more and more on the parody, and by the time Roger Moore
was doing hideous Bonds like Octopussy, any traces of Fleming were
completely gone, and the series had long since worn out its welcome. But
the Connery Bonds take the character just seriously enough to enable the
satiric wit that was the series’ trademark to shine through. If there
is any aspect of the Bonds that dates them, it is not Bond’s often commented
on male chauvinism – on the contrary, Bond, in these days of rampant
misogyny, seems almost a gentleman – it’s the wit. The Beatles had
the same kind of irreverent sarcasm, but it’s atavistic in a way that
doesn’t translate to a contemporary audience: it’s simply too dry for
an audience weaned on (what it thinks is) irony.

Nineteen sixty-four”s Goldfinger finds Bond recuperating from his last
adventure in Miami, where his ever present C.I.A. connection Felix Leiter (Cec
Linder) points out international gold maven Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) cheating
the locals out of thousands playing gin. Bond interferes, but when Goldfinger
finds his sexy assistant Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton) in 007’s bed, he has
her painted gold. Brit intelligence, it turns out, is keeping an eye on Goldfinger,
and after Q (the late Desmond Llewelyn) outfits Bond with a fully armed Aston
Martin DB5 – perhaps the most famous car in film history – he sets out to tail
Goldfinger. He follows him to Switzerland, where a mysterious young woman named
Tully (Tania Malet) turns out to be Jill’s sister, looking to execute personal
revenge. Tully, unfortunately, is felled by the lethal bowler of Goldfinger’s
silent, but deadly henchman Oddjob (Harold Sakata), and just as Goldfinger is
about to emasculate 007 with an industrial laser beam, Bond tells Goldfinger
he knows about “Operation Grand Slam” (which he overheard), and is therefor
emore valuable alive than dead.

Goldinfinger had Bond flown to his private stud farm in Kentucky via
his private pilot Pussy Galore (former Avenger Honor Blackman), whose
name wins the “how did they get that by the censors” award (beating out
‘s “Sylvia Trench”). “Operation Grand Slam” it turns out, is
a fiendishly ingenious plot to nuke the gold in the Fort Knox reserve,
thereby increasing the demand and value of his own reserve. How to stop
Goldfinger, save Fort Knox and the gold, dispose of Oddjob and win the
heart of the possibly lesbian bad girl? He does it with 007 seconds on
the clock to spare.

Thunderball sends 007 to the Bahamas after eye-patched SPECTRE madman
Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi), who has hijacked a British Vulcan bomber equipped
with two nuclear bombs, which he threatens to use on a major city unless NATO
pays his ransom. He gets to Largo through his gorgeous young mistress, Domino
(Claudine Auger), the sister of the slain Vulcan pilots. Largo, being no fool,
dispatches red-headed bad girl Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi) to take care of
Bond, but she is no match, and Bond soon has Largo and his minions fighting
a spectacular underwater battle before Bond – and Domino – help save the world
from evil in the nick of time.

Both films are, of course, deliriously fun to watch, and it is great to see
Thunderball, the first of the anamorphic widescreen Bonds, shown in its
proper 2.35:1 ratio at last. And even if there were no supplemental material
on these discs, they’d be fun. But, both are loaded with generous amounts of
goodies. Both have running audio commentaries (Goldfinger’s by director
Guy Hamilton, Thunderball’s by Terence Young) as well as two mini-documentaries,
each loaded with all sorts of fascinating ephemera. There are trailers, television
spots and on camera interviews from all the major (and now aged) players. (The
Goldfinger disc even has Harold “Oddjob” Sakata’s Vicks Formula 44 commercial
from the 60’s!) I did have two favorite bits of trivia though. On Goldfinger,
I was delighted to learn that most of what that Aston Martin DB5 did on screen
it did in real life. On the Thunderball disc, I was impressed by the
original song John Barry composed for the credits, the Dionne Warwick-performed
“Mr. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” – infinitely better than the Tom Jones nonsense that
made the final cut and accessible here to play in its place. If you want to
show your pals what your DVD player can do, get these.

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Nick Burton lives in Newport Beach, California. His fiction has appeared in many small press and web publications, inlcuding: Chronicles Of Fiction, Pauper, and of course Pif.