Bond Hits Box Office Gold: “Goldfinger” (1964)

James Bond (Sean Connery- aged 34 and very confident in his role) is on a new mission takes him to Kentucky, where Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe) and his henchmen are planning to raid Fort Knox and wreak havoc on the world’s economy. To save the world, Bond will need to get close to Goldfinger. Also, he has to keep his mind off pilot, Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman- already an experienced TV actress), who says she is “immune” to his charm.

Goldfinger: Man has climbed Mount Everest, gone to the bottom of the ocean. He’s fired rockets at the Moon, split the atom, achieved miracles in every field of human endeavor… except crime!

Ian Fleming visited the set while filming was going on, as w/ the previous 2 films; he died less than a month before the movie’s release (August 12, 1964). This was the fastest grossing movie in history; some theaters had to operate for 24 hrs. a day to meet demand! It even won an Oscar for Best Sound Effects. The opening credits show us a woman (Margaret Nolan, who played Dink) in gold paint and we hear the the title song (sung by Shirley Bassey). For the orchestral opening to the title song, composer John Barry (who had total control over the score/song) used trombones, trumpets, French horns, and a tuba. The re-creation of the Fort Knox repository at Pinewood Studios (by production designer Ken Adam and his team) was very accurate, considering that they weren’t been allowed inside the real location (b/c of security reasons). Goldfinger’s 3-D model map (for his “Operation Grand Slam” plan) is located at the real Fort Knox.

Q: Now this one I’m particularly keen about. You see the gear lever here? Now, if you take the top off, you will find a little red button. Whatever you do, don’t touch it.

Bond: Yeah, why not?

Q: Because you’ll release this section of the roof, and engage and then fire the passenger ejector seat. Whish!

Bond: Ejector seat? You’re joking!

Q: I never joke about my work, 007.

Aston Martin was reluctant to part with two of their cars, so the producers had to pay; after the success of the movie, they never had to spend money on a car again. Spielberg liked this Bond film above all the others (esp. the old lady firing the machine gun); he owns an Aston Martin DB5. Long-time fans noted that Q came into his own here; director Guy Hamilton advised Desmond Llewelyn to add humor into the character. So, we see the start of the friendly antagonism between Q and Bond. We see Q’s workshop for the first time w/ men testing out various gadgets. Tilly Masterson’s (Tania Mallet’s) Ford Mustang was the first appearance by a Mustang (released in April of 1964) in a movie.

Bond: Do you expect me to talk?

Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!

Goldfinger and his henchman Oddjob (played by a wrestler from Hawaii- Harold Sakata) are considered two of the great movie villains; the actors portraying them are opposite of their characters. Fellow cast members have remarked how charming and friendly Fröbe (who came from Germany) and Sakata were off-camera. Fröbe can be seen singing and dancing in the popular children’s movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968). It is speculated that Goldfinger was based on a German spy who once tried to rob the Bank of England during WWI; Fleming was a high-ranking officer in Naval Intelligence, so would’ve had access to such info.

Bond: My dear girl, there are some things that just aren’t done, such as drinking Dom Perignon ’53 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s just as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs!

Shirley Eaton (who played Jill Masterson) underwent 2 hrs. of make-up for the gold-painted death scene. “Skin suffocation” by being coated in gold has no basis in fact. A doctor was on set at all times and Eaton’s shots lasted less than 5 mins. in the final movie. Blackman (who also knew judo) was the oldest Bond girl (39 y.o.) until Monica Belucci (51 y.o.) appeared in Spectre (2015); however, Belucci didn’t play Bond’s love interest.

To reflect the main setting, we see horses, the precursor to KFC restaurants, a military base, and (of course) drinks w/ whiskey on a wrap-around porch. I could’ve done w/o the segment on golfing; aside from that, the movie moved along at a good pace. I didn’t watch it 2x (as I’d done with To Russia with Love), but I did re-watch segments I liked. The flying scenes were cool, as were the soldiers (simultaneously) falling like they’d gone to sleep. So far, Blackman is the most interesting Bond girl; she has a strong personality and (surprise) a brain! Some of you may’ve seen the Mike Myers’ parody- Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002).

[1] Thanks to a long film with lots of twists and turns, it felt like a real adventure–very escapist and satisfying.

[2] For me Goldfinger is the slickest of the Bond films in terms of how the stunts are performed and how the story is told. The story mayn’t be the most exciting of all the Bonds, but it is still very gripping. The direction is sly, the cinematography is stylish, the locations are stunning and I can never get enough of the theme song sung by Shirley Bassey.

[3] I believe he was the most dangerous opponent James Bond ever fought with in all of his films. Watch that fight scene that Harold Sakata had with Sean Connery, he’s got Connery almost down for the count. Fighting skills can only carry you so far when your opponent outweighs you and is built like a brick outhouse. In fact it’s only sheer trickery in which Connery overcomes Sakata in a shocking conclusion.

[4] The various scenes of action are slick and exciting, especially the explosive, spectacular last fifteen minutes which sees a brilliant fight scene between Bond and Oddjob, one of the best ever. The sight of Frobe being sucked out of a plane window is also something to remember.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

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