I could probably fill half of my Blind Spot series lineup with James Bond films. I’ve just never been what you would call a big 007 fan. That said I do love the Craig films and a couple of Brosnan’s, but I’ve never felt compelled to give the older Bond films much of a chance. In an effort to do that I thought “Goldfinger” would be a good place to start. In fairness I have seen much of the film but never all of it and (obviously) never in one sitting. Yet I have heard so many good things about it especially from Bond aficionados who know and love the franchise a lot more than I do.
“Goldfinger” is the third film in the Bond series and the third of Sean Connery’s six Bond films. Watching Connery work it is easy to understand why many consider him to be the best Bond. “Goldfinger” is also recognized for its many firsts. It was the first 007 film categorized as a blockbuster. It’s budget equaled the previous two films combined and the movie’s promotion heralded it as a big box office draw. “Goldfinger” was also the film that made the extensive use of gadgets a fixture. It was also the first James Bond film to win an Academy Award and it was well received by both critics and audiences. The film would also influence the series in many other areas such as the title credits sequence and overall production quality. In many ways “Goldfinger” changed the standard of what a Bond film was to be.
The story finds Bond lounging it up at a fancy Miami Beach resort, but soon he finds the true reason he was sent there and it wasn’t for vacation. At the same resort is Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe), an obsessed gold smuggler. 007 is tasked with observing Goldfinger and finding out how his smuggling operation works. Bond’s mission takes him London, Switzerland, and bluegrass Kentucky. At each stop he finds himself getting a little too close to his objective and Goldfinger always seems one step ahead of him. But as 007 begins to piece together the inner workings of Goldfinger’s operation, he discovers a much bigger and more sinister plot.
Half of the fun in watching “Goldfinger” involves the characters Bond meets along the way. First there is Goldfinger himself. At first I wasn’t totally convinced in Fröbe’s portrayal but director Guy Hamilton never uses Fröbe beyond the actor’s capabilities. The big surprise was learning that the voice of Fröbe, who spoke practically no English, was dubbed. It’s a clever trick that is brilliantly pulled off. There is also Oddjob (Harold Sakata), Goldfinger’s enforcer and right-hand man. He’s a stout strong arm known for is lethal bowler hat. Silly and preposterous for sure, but he is also entertaining and a lot of fun.
Then of course there are the Bond girls. The stunningly beautiful Shirley Eaton meets Bond in Miami and gives us one of cinema’s most iconic images. Tania Mallett comes along next and aside from her shaky acting, she is a mysterious character that did little to serve the plot. But then you have Honor Blackman as the cool, confident, beautiful, and provocatively named Pussy Galore. Easily one of the most famous Bond girls, Galore had a tougher side which made her a lot more than the typical eye candy. For the rest of her career Blackman would always find herself connected to this classic character.
“Goldfinger” is absurd and it times in sanely over-the-top. But at the same time it never falls into the cheesy category that some of the later Bond films would. I never had a problem just going along with the craziness of the plot or the way things unfold. There’s a fine line there and “Goldfinger” navigates it beautifully. That’s not to say there weren’t moments where the story pushes believability too far, but that’s forgivable when you’re being so entertained. The film doesn’t allow you to concentrate on its absurdity. The pacing is so crisp and the direction so calculated. It’s also a beautiful film to look at. Some of the locales are breathtaking and the film utilizes them well. But I was even more impressed with some of the clever camera techniques that truly made the film feel spectacular.
In a nutshell “Goldfinger” is a really good movie and I can understand why Bond fans hold it in such high regard. For those who are not fans of the suave secret agent, well this is unquestionably a Bond film so take that as you will. But consider this, as a lukewarm fan of the franchise, I had a blast. Connery is superb, the action is well done, and the story is good crazy fun. The film was surrounded by lawsuits both prior to and during development so it’s a surprise it got off the ground. Thankfully it did and in doing so it gave audiences a classic 007 movie. Without a doubt this is Bond done right.