Bonding with Bond, Day 3: Goldfinger

One intrepid RT editor is watching all of the James Bond films in order.

by | October 23, 2008 | Comments

This is Day 3 of my three-week journey, and my writeup is be on Goldfinger, another beloved Bond classic.

Goldfinger (1964) 98%

So far, watching the Bond films has yielded revelation upon revelation, as I saw the various elements that later films borrowed from them. I think, for example, that I would have appreciated the Austin Powers series on a far greater level had I seen Goldfinger first. Goldfinger vs. Goldmember, Pussy Galore vs. Alotta Fagina, Oddjob vs. Random Task, etc. And I promise that’ll be the last comparison I’ll make to Austin Powers for a while — even I’m somewhat disturbed it’s my first point of reference.

The beginning of Goldfinger immediately sets a different tone from its predecessor, as we see Bond swimming underwater with a faux duck pasted to the top of his head. After emerging and tossing aside the disguise, he deploys a grappling hook to scale a wall, dispatches a guard, breaks into a room full of heroin and explosive gas to plant a bomb, sheds his wetsuit to reveal a pristine white tux, and casually lights a cigarette as a blood orange explosion thunders in the background. This is how I had always pictured 007.

We also get our first look at Q branch, where all the spy gadgets are born, and Bond’s classic, pimped out Aston Martin DB5. The familiar tools of the trade are starting to come together, and that’s pretty novel to see for the first time. From simply supplying a Walther PPK, to providing an all-purpose briefcase, to building a bulletproof, machine gun equipped, oil-slicking, “homer” tracking luxury car, it seems Q’s budget has gotten some attention.

One thing that’s remained constant so far, however, is the level of sophistication and chivalry in Bond’s adversaries. Dr. No practically treats him to an all-inclusive spa vacation; Red Grant maintains polite conversation even as he’s about to blow Bond away; and here, Goldfinger plays a round of golf with him before attempting to split his coccyx up the middle with a laser. I suppose it makes sense on some level; if I could convince my greatest enemy to sit down, have a cigar, and discuss fixed rate mortgages, it’d probably be that much easier for my henchman to sneak up from behind and take the sucker’s head clean off with his deadly… hat. Sadly, I fear quality nemeses like these have gone the way of the archaeopteryx.

Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore
There isn’t as much womanizing in Goldfinger, partly because Bond is ordered to keep himself in check, and partly because Pussy Galore isn’t the kind of woman who will stand for it. Her name is an utter tease, because she’s so far the only woman who hasn’t immediately disrobed upon making eye contact with Bond. But let’s be serious here; this is James Bond. Does he end up literally rolling in the hay with PG (ha, ironic!) anyway? Naturally. I’ve come to expect it.

All in all, Goldfinger was a nice mix of its two predecessors, blending the playfulness and charm of Dr. No with the story and production quality of From Russia With Love. It was campy at times, but it also had some decent action and a relatively believable plot that was easy to follow, not that you need a 170 IQ to follow any Bond plot, it seems. Finally, I’m somewhat reluctant to admit it, but I think I’m finding I enjoy the sillier elements in these films more than anything else.

Favorite line: “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!”

Favorite moment: The gassing of Fort Knox, which plays out much like the fainting goats viral video. It was so good I rewound it and watched it in double-time, which made it even better.


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