“Do you expect me to talk?”
“No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die!”
Goldfinger is many things: the film where Bond gets his Aston Martin, the film where he utters his signature line, “Martini. Shaken, not stirred,” for the first time, and it is also the film where the women he attracts are painted gold, killed by flying hats, and named Pussy Galore. Not only the quintessential film of Sean Connery’s career as James Bond, Goldfinger is also the future of what the franchise would become. It keeps the momentum rolling from the first two films and is the strongest entry among the three.
Goldfinger begins with a bang…quite literally as Bond blows up a drug laboratory in Latin America. He then proceeds to hook up with a belly dancer at his hotel room, where he is attacked by a vengeful thug – the fight concluding with the ruffian being electrocuted in a bathtub full of water to which Bond wryly retorts, “Shocking. Positively shocking.” The film’s title sequence then plays, where future scenes reflect off women painted in gold and Shirley Bassey’s golden pipes give chills in one of the all-time great Bond theme songs.
The central plot of the film begins at Miami beach, where Bond makes acquaintances with our lead antagonist, gold smuggler Auric Goldfinger. After discovering Goldfinger’s assistant, Jill Masterson, assisting her boss in cheating at a game of Rummy, Bond convinces Jill with his charm to participate in a more honest affair. Angered by the meddling of his scheme, Goldfinger dispatches his henchman, Oddjob, on Bond and Jill, resulting in 007 being knocked out and Jill being coated in gold paint which kills her in the process – “skin suffocation”.
Upon returning to London, Bond is given his next mission: to investigate Goldfinger for possible gold smuggling. During his investigation, however, 007 discovers a plot much grander than illegally transporting gold across borders that goes by the name “Operation Grand Slam”.
Helmed by a new director, Guy Hamilton (who would go on to direct another Bond classic in Live and Let Die), Goldfinger breathes new life into a franchise before its pattern grew repetitive. From the ridiculous names of the film’s characters, to seat ejectors and flying circuses, Goldfinger is transformative because it fully embraces the absurdity of the spy genre for max entertainment value; it is easily one of the best paced early Bond films.
Taking a break from the SPECTRE storyline, the film introduces two of the franchise’s most memorable villains, Auric Goldfinger and his faithful servant Oddjob. German actor Gert Frobe plays Goldfinger with deceivingly amiable bravado, much in line with his character’s description in a 1964 review published in the Daily News, “a fabulously wealthy man whose greed for gold is only exceeded by his disrespect for human life.” Besides being everyone’s go-to character option in GoldenEye 007’s multiplayer deathmatch mode on Nintendo’s N64, Oddjob’s brute strength and deadly persistence make him quite the tough cat to kill; played by U.S. Olympic weightlifter and professional wrestler, Harold Sakata, there is authenticity behind his character’s intimidation factor.
With a bona fide star in Sean Connery, excellent production design, unforgettable scenes such as when Bond is strapped to a metal table with a laser coming within inches of splitting him in half, on top of everything else I’ve mentioned in my review, Goldfinger has all the elements of an instant classic James Bond film. 9.5/10