In what many consider to be the film of the franchise, James Bond faces off against the titular Auric Goldfinger, a business man who deals in gold, obviously. While captive in Goldfinger’s Kentucky lair (sure), James discovers a plot to break into Ft. Knox, and contaminate the gold supply.
Bond, James Bond:
Sean Connery back to reach the halfway point of his official appearance as our titular spy. Connery is still doing good work in these movies, although, to my knowledge, this might be the last time I will be able to say this. If that is the case, Connery’s last strong performance is his strongest. The one moment that comes to mind is one of the most famous scenes in the entire James Bond franchise, as Goldfinger ties James up to a metal table and threatens to slice James in half with it. This is the first time James/Connery comes off as truly frightened for his life, and watching him push against his constraints to escape the laser really allows the audience to believe that this could, conceivably, be the end of our favorite spy.
That being said, this movie also probably (hopefully?) finds James at his absolute worst. The excellently/terribly named henchwoman Pussy Galore (played by Honor Blackman) takes James into a barn at the request of Goldfinger. While here, James makes several advances which Galore clearly wants nothing to do with, even to the point of literally flipping James over several times. However, none of these clear attempts at a “no” (not to mention the times where she literally says “no”) will deter James from getting what he wants, and after he forcibly kisses her (despite her trying to strong arm him away from her mouth), Galore relents. I understand that this is 1964, and that somehow this was probably deemed as chill just 53 years ago, but I refuse to allow that argument to hold water now. Seeing our hero basically rape a woman is hugely troubling, especially watching the film in the present day, where a lot of women (and men) find it difficult to come forward about their experiences of sexual assault, due to fear of victim blaming or a justice system that rarely protects the victim/pities the rapist (the disgusting Brock Turner case comes to mind). The film’s almost playful presentation of the scene makes it all the more difficult to accept. Each time that Galore flips Bond or Bond flips Galore (such a charmer), the score plays a cheerful little flutter of strings as if the filmmakers are trying to tell us “look at this playful banter!” But that is simply not how the scene comes across. Blackman plays Galore as genuinely not wanting this to happen. She repeatedly tells James that she is “immune to his charm” and wants nothing to do with him (in the novel, Galore is a lesbian, apparently because she was sexually abused by her uncle.* The film never gives any sort of indication of Galore’s sexual orientation). Galore is physically fighting him to stop his advances, and Bond just keeps on going. No matter the context in 1964, this scene is deeply troubling now, and is, realistically, the only black mark this film has, but it is one that must be discussed.
*Ian Fleming seems like a real winner.
“Goldfinger,” sung by Shirley Bassey in the first of her three Bond songs. There’s a reason Bassey came back for two more songs, and there’s a reason this song is the top of many people’s rankings of these songs. Everything works on this song. This is the first song that is sung about the villain, and it gives us an appropriate understanding of the character, and Bassey just nails the delivery. That being said, it is probably surprisingly low on my list of rankings, as I had it as my #6 song of 24 songs. Again, I think only one of the songs above it will give people a lot of pause, but I have my opinions, you have yours, so back off of me, man.
Auric Goldfinger, played by Gert Fröbe, and voiced by Michael Collins. Fröbe is a German actor who could not speak English convincingly and he was dubbed by Collins, but it isn’t the vocal performance that makes this character memorable. Fröbe has a daunting physical presence that makes this character threatening. He’s a big man who could probably crush James if he so desired (and after the barn scene, I would have been chill with this). As far as his plan goes, of the three villains we have had so far, his is the easiest to understand and, because of this, is the plan I most enjoyed. Goldfinger is a gold dealer who has a plan to break into Ft. Knox and blow up an atomic bomb-like device, which would contaminate the gold in the fort, causing it to become worthless. With worthless gold in Ft. Knox, Goldfinger’s gold would rise in value, and the Asian government who is working with Auric will benefit from the scrambling American economy. As far as villain plan’s go, it’s simple and seems plausible, and James spends most of this movie trying to play catch-up, which is a refreshing thing to see.
Pussy Galore, played by Honor Blackman. First, she has the best/worst James Bond Girl name ever. But beyond that, she is probably the most noteworthy Bond girl that I have encountered yet, and that will probably remain the case throughout the rest of this really drawn out project. Blackman plays the role with confidence and is really the first woman in any of these movies who seems to really be able to go toe-to-toe with Bond. I’d be interested to see what would happen if this movie got made today. That is until the barn scene. So I talked about it and how troubling it is from the Bond-side of things, but the scene also changes Galore’s personality throughout the rest of the film. She’s a different person from that scene on, and it hurts the film. Galore, pre-barn, simply has no time for any of Bond’s charms. It plays out this way in the book because she’s a lesbian, but the film does not give any indication that this is the case, so it plays out like she genuinely just does not have a singular concern for Bond or his sexuality. Which is amazing. The first two movies, and even in this movie, women are throwing themselves at him, but Galore just could not care less. Then the barn happens and she’s fawning over him. At the end of the movie, rescue planes are looking for Bond and Galore, who have crash landed a plane after Bond shot a hole in the window in order to defeat Goldfinger. Instead of being concerned with survival, Galore and Bond giggle as they hide themselves under a parachute so that they can have sex again. If the barn scene had played out differently, maybe the end of this movie could have remained as it is and I would not have issue, but the fact that Galore is far from the character that we met all because of a rape scene is troubling, to say the very least.
Jill Masterson, played by Shirley Eaton, and Tilly Masterson, played by Tania Mallet, are the other major-ish women in this movie. Jill gets less screen time, but is arguably gets one of the most famous images in the Bond franchise, after she is killed by being painted gold (skin suffocation, which sounds just dreadful).
Tilly wants revenge, and is terrible at it. Again, neither actress is given much to work with, and I’m writing this section a few weeks after I watched the movie (let me live my life!), so it isn’t as detailed as it might have been, but they really just didn’t leave an impression.
Oddjob, played by Harold Sakata, is one of the more famous henchmen in the Bond franchise. Although his appearance in this movie clearly helped, I think a lot of the reason is that he is a playable character in the famous N64 game Goldeneye. But again, he wouldn’t be in that game if he hadn’t made an impression in the original film, and he certainly does that. Nearly silent, the only sounds I ever remember him making are “A-ha” when he finds Goldfinger’s ball on a golf course. But the silence works to his benefit, as he is a mysterious character, who can throw a hat with deadly precision (RIP Tilly Masterson. You were terrible at everything).
I also want to pay mention to James’ caddy during the golf scene, played by Gerry Duggan. He was the Quarrel of this movie, just a random dude around James who I wish had more to do. The caddy doesn’t even really advance the plot in any way, I just love that he’s around trying to crack wise and be on the same level as this super spy.
M, Q and Moneypenny are all back and all do basically nothing, at least from my memory. I do want to remind you that Moneypenny can do way better than James and she should stop going after him. Or not. She can do what she wants, but she can do better.
Felix Leiter returns from Dr. No but is this time played by Cec Linder. I remember Leiter being around more in this movie, and he didn’t have the crazy eye glasses. He also gets one of my favorite moments in the movie when he is waiting on important information from James, but still feels like he has time for KFC. I love this moment because I’m 99.9% sure that would be me as a spy. “Listen ya’ll. I know this dude is probably minutes away from killing some fools, but I haven’t seen a KFC Buffet in years, and no way in hell I’m missing out on it for this fool.”
The main gadget in this movie is Bond’s mode of transportation, his first Aston Martin, the DB5 model. This car is loaded, and even me, a guy who doesn’t care much for cars, can’t help but want to drive this car and do spy things in it, like KFC. This car includes revolving license plates so that the car can legally drive in multiple countries, a hidden GPS, which in 1964, had to mind-blowing, tires that have instruments allowing them to slash other people’s tires, a bulletproof screen, machine guns, and an ejector seat, among other things. Basically, everything you could ever desire in a car. Also, the ejector seat’s introduction involved a red button, and I can’t help but think of Men In Black whenever I hear about a dangerous red button hidden in cars. I understand now that this is probably a loving homage to this storied franchise.
Miscellaneous Spy Business:
–James Bonding is back everyone! Not only is it back, but they’ve recorded and released their second reaction to this film. The first was, uh, a bit infamous for the guest’s reaction to this film (which alerted me to the barn scene, but still did not fully prepare me for it). The second is more positive in tone. Please note, that first link could realistically die at any point. With the podcast’s switch to EarWolf, older episodes are going to be subscription based. If you subscribe to Stitcher Radio, you’ll have access to it there. If you don’t, do whatever you want. I’m not in sales.
-When we first see James in Miami, as he meets Felix in front of some lazy rear projections (seriously this scene is filled with them and it’s terribly obvious and took me out of the scene for a little bit), he is getting a massage from a woman named Dink (played by Margaret Nolan). The last we see of her is as James audibly spanks her and tells her “Man Talk.” I mostly brought this up because Dink is a terrific name for a human, and probably going to be the name of all of my children.
-“There are some things that just aren’t done, such as drinking Dom Perignon ’54 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s just as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs.” This is a line of dialogue in this film that has aged exquisitely. The Bond franchise clearly got the last laugh. No one associated with the Beatles would ever be associated with this franchise. Certainly, none of them will ever sing one of the greatest songs in history.
-During a car chase, James is faked out by a mirror, leading him to believe that someone is about to have a head-on collision with him. Bond loses this game of chicken, and chooses to crash into a wall. I bring this up because one time my dad was in a haunted house and was walking towards a wall and kept saying “Uh oh monsters are walking towards us. They’re still walking at the same pace as us. Oh it’s a mirror.” True story.
Rating: 0010*. This is a nearly perfect film, and I struggled for a while about how I wanted to rate this. Should a well-executed movie be treated as anything other than that because of a deeply troubling scene that takes up less than 2% of the film? I decided no, with an asterisk. The asterisk being that this movie should not be celebrated in its entirety without time being taken to discuss Bond’s rape of Pussy Galore, and how we should not accept that, especially in the character we treat as the hero.
TJ Hizer Will Return With: Thunderball
Photo Credits Header Image: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/Fy_PJODH3p0/hqdefault.jpg Laser Gif: https://www.yahoo.com/movies/goldfinger-laser-scene-bond-connery-154919548.html Gilded Jill Masterson: http://jamesbond.wikia.com/wiki/Jill_Masterson_(Shirley_Eaton) Me as a Spy: http://www.jamesbondwiki.com/photo/1432570/Goldfinger+KFC Resources: Goldfinger Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goldfinger_(film) Pussy Galore Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pussy_Galore Aston martin DB5 Page on 007james.com: http://www.007james.com/gadgets/aston_martin_db5.php