Written, not Stirred: James Bond Film #3 – Goldfinger

goldfinger

One of the longest lasting movie series in cinema history features the cavalier Scottish agent working for England to right the wrongs of the world, stop the takeover of the world by a psychopath…and shag a few chicks along the way.  With a perfect mix of bravado, scenery, beauty, gadgets and bad guys, the James Bond movie series is one of the most popular of all-time. I will review and comment on every installment, from 1962′s “Dr. No” all the way to 2012′s ”Skyfall” and beyond.  I will rank the movies from 1 to 23 and within that grade the following categories from 1 to 10:

Plot/Bond Performance
Women 
Villains 
Gadgets 
Locations

We’ll add up the totals and give a grade, with a max of 50, as to which Bond (in my opinion) is the greatest, and crappiest of all time.

Starring: Sean Connery, Gert Frobe, Honor Blackman, Harold Sakata

Director: Guy Hamilton

Plot: James Bond is on the trail of a European gold baron bent on destroying Fort Knox’s gold supply so his gold would be worth more on international markets.

Scott’s Rankings:

Plot/Bond Performance: Sean Connery was absolutely on his game in his third go-round as 007. He fired his lines off flawlessly, and the charm was over the top, which starts when he forces Goldfinger to lose his bridge money at the Miami hotel. The plot again is simple enough for people to follow and there are plenty of twists along the way. The usual suspects are guiding Bond along (M, Q, Moneypenny) and, although the actor that played Felix Leiter (Cec Linder) wasn’t nearly as smooth as Jack Lord in “Dr. No”, he is a vital ally for 007 in toppling Operation “Grand Slam”. The novel had Goldfinger robbing Fort Knox, but Hamilton wanted to focus on the intelligence and logic of the villains, so instead he had Goldfinger attempt to irradiate it. An exemplary effort all around by the writers to lay it out, and by Connery and the other actors to execute it. Grade: 9

Women: Pussy Galore. Think about that for a minute. That is the headline bond girl in this installment, and no one’s the wiser. When she introduces herself to Bond, his “…I must be dreaming” is a classic in Bond lore. Her toughness and beauty add a different dynamic to the previous two movies when it comes to Bond women. Shirley Eaton and Tania Mallet are solid as the Masterson sisters, as Eaton’s beautiful golden body will forever be a symbol of the Bond legacy. Pussy’s “Flying Circus” of beauties were also pleasing to the eyes. After what I thought was a disappointing amount of beauty in “From Russia With Love”, this bond film makes up for it in spades. Grade: 9

Villains: Gert Frobe’s performance as Auric Goldfinger is still the standard-bearer that all future bond villains have been and will be measured. Although Frobe’s voice had to be dubbed over due to his very think German accent, his imposing presence and well thought-out plan of gold domination was a great plot and story. It was also good to have a movie that takes SPECTRE out of the picture for one film so as not to water that faction down too much. What I like about this movie’s villains is Goldfinger’s bodyguard, Odd Job. Played by professional wrestler Harold Sakata, his deadly bowler hat is another standard of evil weapons designed to take Bond out. He also goes out, literally, in a blaze of glory as Bond electrocutes him in the climactic scene as Odd Job’s deadly hat ends up being the catalyst of his death. The best cache of Bond villains to date. Grade: 10

Gadgets: Aston Martin DB5. That’s all that needs to be said. The most famous car in Bond history has it all: Blast shields, oil slick, tracking device, machine guns in the front, and a rotating license plate. It’s silver and slick. Watching Bond trolling around Switzerland with it while tracking Goldfinger led to some beautiful shots on film. There really isn’t any other gadgets in the film other than the car, but who really needs anything else. It’s also the only Bond car used in multiple films, as it’s in the opening sequence to the next film, “Thunderball”. However one point of note regarding gadgets, was Goldfinger’s laser that almost cut Bond in half. That is the first appearance of a laser beam in a major motion picture. After being gadget-thin in the first two films, Goldfinger set the first standard for gadgets. Grade: 10

Locations: This is the first Bond film to have some action take place on domestic soil. Starting with the beautiful resort in Miami Beach, to Fort Knox and the gold supply, there was an American flavor. Ironically all the scenes involving Connery and those locales were shot at Pinewood Studios in London, so really Connery never touched down in the USA at all. Amazing what they can do in that cavernous paradise called Pinewood. The part of the movie in Switzerland was well shot, since it’s not often you see that country without snow everywhere. The horse farm Goldfinger owned in Kentucky was quite scenic also, so all in all this film had a nice combination of colors and ambiance. Grade: 7

Scott’s Take: This is the Bond film that put the entire series over the top. It made the most money of any of those bond films of the 60’, and the Aston Martin is still held in high regard of one of the cinema’s most famous vehicles. Connery was his usual charismatic self and the beautiful women and slick villains make this one of the highest rated Bond films on my list. As you’ll see there are a couple future films that will pass this only because I grew up later on in the series, so there are others that I have higher on my favorites list. That being said, this is my second favorite Connery and some older fans consider the best Bond ever. It’s definitely in my top five. FINAL GRADE: 45/50

Scott’s countdown:

1. Goldfinger                                              45
2. Dr. No                                                      29
3. From Russia With Love                    28

Author: Scott Criscuolo

Scott Criscuolo is a co-founder of the Place to Be, co-host of the Place to Be Podcast, and was in the radio business for 10 years. He loves all things pop culture, and someday he will be the ghost writer for Triple H's autobiography. Send Scott an email