Director: Guy Hamilton
Starring: Sean Connery, Gert Fröbe, Honor Blackman
Kaboom Review Action Movie Rating: 76
James Bond investigates Auric Goldfinger for suspected gold smuggling and uncovers a plot to set off a nuclear bomb in Fort Knox, Kentucky.
I give Goldfinger high marks, even with its weaknesses. This movie impressed me the most of the first three Bond films. Connery and Fröbe make an entertaining hero/villain tandem. The action scenes are entertaining despite their age. The movie construction is solid, the pace tight, and the story engaging. Most of all, Goldfinger is the first Bond film where all the trademarks that would define the series over the next four decades fall into place. Even at its ripe old age, Goldfinger makes for a great evening’s entertainment.
With Goldfinger, the Bond series hits full stride. Compared to the first two films in the series—Dr. No and From Russia with Love—Goldfinger is grander, bolder, crisper, and simply better. In almost every category, Goldfinger outdoes its predecessors. The budget is bigger, the scale is bigger, the plot more outrageous, and the script wittier. This is the quintessential Bond. However, Goldfinger is also 43 years old and it shows. The action scenes, as advanced as they were in the time and as improved as they are over the first two Bond films, still suffer from the limits of film making of the time.
On the whole, there is a lot to like in this movie. Sean Connery, who I felt was perfect in From Russia with Love, manages to somehow improve on that performance. He is cooler, more charismatic, and wittier here than in the previous two movies. A better script, better villain, and better plot help a lot in this regard. In From Russia with Love, Connery is essentially a one-man show, but in Goldfinger, he gets excellent support from Gert Fröbe, as the megalomaniacal arch villain Auric Goldfinger, and Honor Blackman, as the daringly named Pussy Galore. Harold Sakata, as Goldfinger’s henchman Oddjob, deserves special commendation as well. Bond’s lines are better as well, and the story gives him more to work with.
The overall construction of Goldfinger is better than the previous two Bond efforts as well. The pace is faster in Goldfinger, with the exception of some sluggish plot progression in the middle third of the movie. Editing is crisp and effective. Scenes move along briskly, with little wasted time. The plot is complex, grand, and entertaining. For the most part, the movie stays within its premise, but there are a few glaring question marks that the viewer has to overlook. For example, in one scene, Bond gets captured, and then is allowed to drive his car under guard. Huh? Why would you let him drive? Also, I can’t imagine why Goldfinger would dare leave Bond alive in the last scene of the movie; it seems absurdly illogical. Equally illogical is Goldfinger’s actions toward the gangsters that visit his Kentucky base of operations, although I suppose we can stretch things a bit and say that such an egomaniac would take every opportunity to boast.
The action scenes in Goldfinger are both more plentiful and better than those of the previous two Bond movies. In many ways, I’d call Goldfinger the first Bond action film. Dr. No and From Russia with Love used drama and intrigue to great effect and used action sparingly; in Goldfinger, fights are more intricate, chase scenes more elaborate, and battles more exciting. The climatic battle and the conclusion of the film are much grander and more satisfying than the first two Bond films. Special effects are close to non-existent, of course, but we do get to see the first time a laser was used as an effect in a film. Bond’s car, the Aston Martin DB5, deserves a special mention in this category as well. The car is packed with gadgets, and all get used to great effect.
But still, time dates the action in Goldfinger badly. Stunts are generic. Fight scenes—improved over the one-punch knockouts in Dr. No—are still too simple. Car chases use rear-projection screens. The final battle is almost comical in its toy-soldier portrayal of combat: everyone who gets shot falls over dead.
As for our babe rating, I have to say that I was disappointed in Honey Blackman as Pussy Galore. She acts well enough, but she just doesn’t strike me as a dazzling woman. I liked Tania Malet and Shirley Eaton better, as the Masterson sisters. Malet (shown at right) was especially attractive, but both of these women have minor roles. For our Hunk factor, Connery rules the roost as Bond, and as usual gives the Hunk rating a big boost.
All in all, I give Goldfinger high marks, even with its weaknesses. This movie impressed me the most of the first three Bond films. Connery and Fröbe make an entertaining hero/villain tandem. The action scenes are entertaining despite their age. The movie construction is solid, the pace tight, and the story engaging. Most of all, Goldfinger is the first Bond film where all the trademarks that would define the series over the next four decades fall into place. Even at its ripe old age, Goldfinger makes for a great evening’s entertainment.
Ian Fleming, author of the Bond novels, never saw Goldfinger. He died from heart failure one month before the movie’s release. He was 56.
The four newly released Bond Ultimate Editions are simply fantastic, and are the best way to purchase crystal clear versions of the older Bond movies. If you are open to purchasing suggestions, Deep Discount.com often has them available at solid prices.
Consistent Premise: 62
Body Count: 60
Time to First Dead Body: Fast
Special Effects: 18
Overall: 76 (Solid)
[tags]Guy Hamilton, Sean Connery, Gert Fröbe, Honor Blackman, James Bond, 007, action movie, movie review, Goldfinger[/tags]