"Goldfinger" (1964) is a classic tale of the adventures of British secret agent James 007 Bond (Sean Connery). Directed by Guy Hamilton for Eon Procutions, the company of Canadian Harry Saltzman and American Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli, it set the standard for action/adventure crime thrillers that the first two film in the series had established confirmed and enlarged a franchise that will outlast us all. German actor Gert Frobe played the title character, a villain obsessed with gold. In brief, the film covers the attempt by Goldfinger, who is obsessed by gold, to corner the market on that precious metal. It is up to James Bond to try and stop him on behalf of the British Secret Service. Some of my earliest memories involved a product from this film, a toy remote-control Aston Martin that was probably the coolest gift of my childhood. The franchise, if anything, grows stronger with the years. It moved the franchise into the cultural mainstream that was just on the verge of recognizing fashionable London and cool sports cars and outlandish gadgets. One could say that it (along with the Beatles and many other factors) helped open up the cultural possibilities that blossomed in 1965-1967.
|Gert Frobe as Goldfinger, cheating at cards|
Good visuals are just the beginning of a great film, though. There must be a great story which provides something unusual. Here, we have James Bond, the archetypal spy and assassin, essentially playing the damsel in distress. Watch the movie and see. Who gets terrorized by having his associates killed and their remains left as a deadly threat? Who almost gets that unkindest of cuts from a massive, phallic laser until he cajoles his way out of it? And speaking of phallic, the film's title is easy to interpret in a suggestive way. Who has powerful males continually trying to intimidate and use him as their tool? Who winds up essentially tied to the train tracks as the on-rushing train is only seconds away and is saved by another man? Who even winds up having as his love interest a delightful-looking lesbian? The classic end line - "I must have appealed to her maternal instincts" - winds it all up.
|Harold Sakata as Oddjob|
It is this sort of going-against-type that elevates the film to classic status. We've seen the tough-guy thing in too many movies (the current trend is over-the-top tough-girl movies and that is getting boring, too). A vulnerable Bond who does NOT wind up saving the day, but still manages to appear heroic throughout and ultimately does prove his manhood, now that is the foundation of a classic tale, because invulnerability is silly and pretentious, overcoming vulnerability and doing it with good grace and humor the stuff of legend.
|Honor Blackman: "You have nothing I want"|
Gert Frobe made his (English-speaking) career with the one immortal line "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!" Harold Sakata, as "Oddjob," is the classic henchman of the entire Bond series. He accomplishes more with a glower and his deliberate gait than other actors manage with five pages of dialog. He was a star weightlifter prior to acting, and it shows. Honor Blackman shows enough studied ambivalence as an ice princess in so many ways that she keeps us - and Bond - guessing right up until the end.
|"Binky" didn't say much, but then, she didn't have to.|
|"Who are you?" "My name is Pussy Galore." "I must be dreaming."|
|Golden girl on the bed|
One of the notable aspects of this film is the number of women who appear briefly, but were featured heavily in advertising. Do you know who Margaret Nolan was? Probably not. She had a tiny role as Bond's masseuse, Binky, and was onscreen for a matter of seconds. She appeared everywhere in the promotion of the film, however. The famous "golden girl" Shirley Eaton, the one who as helping Goldfinger cheat at cards but then got distracted by Bond and made Goldfinger lose, likewise appeared only briefly, but lives on in film history.
|Margaret Nolan on the bed behind Bond|
|This is classic Bond|
Below is the "Goldfinger" trailer, and below that the classic laser scene.