Take 2: Goldfinger
"Auric Goldfinger. Sounds like a French nail varnish."
James Bond returns for a third time, and in doing so gets our marathon truly under way. For many people, Goldfinger stands as the greatest in the series.
This is where the franchise really gets into its swing, for better and for worse. It’s the first ‘formulaic’ Bond film but it’s not a formula we’re yet familiar with so it’s fresh and exciting.
The pre-title scene is a pure display of Bond’s aptitude in the field and bears no relation to the story to come. It’s almost a mini-version of a Bond film; Bond has an assignment, blows stuff up, gets with a femme fatale who turns against him, kills a bad guy and makes cheesy jokes.
Then we roll into that spectacular brassy theme tune: BWAAAHHH BWAAAHHH! It’s polished, ballsy, catchy and camp. I can only imagine what seeing that in the cinema for the first time would have been like.
That leads into a brilliant opening shot. The camera is attached to a helicopter, filming a large hotel from above. We pan across to reveal the pool at the rear, then zoom into a man on the diving board. He jumps, the camera follows down then we cut to an underwater shot inside the pool as the diver hits the water, immediately bringing us into the scene. Simple, but very slick and very effective.
As with so many Bond films, the plot makes no sense. Goldfinger wants to make all the gold in Fort Knox radioactive, in order to increase the value of his own stock. That doesn’t really work; surely they can continue to trade the gold without moving it from the bank, as they currently do?
It also raises the question as to why he allows Bond into his evil plan in the first place. Hubris perhaps, but that doesn’t seem to be the actions of someone who loves gold more than anything else. Also, why are all his henchmen Asian?
As with only the best Bond films however, the gaping plot holes do not really matter. Goldfinger is a truly memorable film and fantastic entertainment all round. The car is awesome. The gadgets are awesome. Oddjob is awesome. “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!” gets said. It’s all so much fun.
Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman) is the first woman aside from Rosa Klebb to resist Bond’s advances (come on, you know Bond tried it on with Klebb behind the scenes). She’s actually an interesting character. Granted Bond still winds up solving the problem with his dick, but Goldfinger at least starts to introduce the idea of women having an effect on the plot.
The road ahead is long for this marathon. My instinct tells me it’s going to be some time before we come close to seeing anything this good again in the Bond universe, but let’s hope Thunderball proves me wrong.