Goldfinger (1964)

The 007 film that elevated Bond to the worldwide British icon today – with avant-garde Old Hollywood elegance, expansion of gadgets & Aston Martin lore, strong villain, & Connery debonair-mix of acidic repartée & masculine composure. 9.4/10.

Plot Synopsis: The powerful tycoon Auric Goldfinger has initiated Operation Grand Slam, a cataclysmic scheme to raid Fort Knox and obliterate the world economy. James Bond, armed with his specially equipped Aston Martin, must stop the plan by overcoming several outrageous adversaries.

*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

Official CLC Review

The Gold-Standard Of Bonds

The Breakout Smash-Hit Of Dr. No’s Islands & FRWL’s Moscow Thrills Established Bond As A Franchise.. But Goldfinger Defined It

Photograph Courtesy Of: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

1962’s Dr. No established a new character on-screen: Bond, James Bond. From the exotic island-mystery and nuclear space-antagonism of DN to cold-war revisionism of From Russia With Love, 007 was a franchise that succeeded – but lacked that masterpiece punch to elevate it beyond popcorn-entertainment. A gold-laden pitch of returning to Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel: a diverse-locale, capitalistic demon who razes The American Dream and pushes a gadget-upgraded Mr. Bond to his limits – alongside Bond girls who reimagine the trope – is just the potential cinematic masterpiece the Dr. [No] ordered. The $3M budget over the resources of the previous two installments in mind, international marketing, and partnership with one of England’s most prestigious carmakers: Aston Martin only added fuel-to-the-fire. The 007 film that elevated Bond to the box-office British icon the world knows him as today, Goldfinger is a new class of blockbuster – with avant-garde elegance/reverence, hyper-expansion of the gadgets & Aston Martin lore, strong villain and Bond girl-subversion, even-better Connery’s debonair mix of acidic repartée and masculine composure, & Old Hollywood ritzy glamour.

The Exotic Locales & Diverse AV

From Miami Beach-Clubs To Mexico Explosions To Kentuckian Ft. Knox To Alpine Swiss Mountains, The Most Diverse Bond

Photograph Courtesy Of: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

From the opening scene, there is a surgical confidence by 007 as he expertly carries out his stealthy espionage to wow us from the first seconds of the film’s cold-open. Goldfinger’s beginning alone serves as a thematization and synopsis of Bond as a franchise previously – spy-thrills, girls, action, and tongue-in-cheek humour package in a mere 4 1/2 minutes of curated experience. After 007 rattles off a classic one-liner in ‘shocking’ is where the film ascends to a higher artform – and changed everything. The avant-garde craftsmanship in Goldfinger’s credit sequence is pure artistry – a gold-painted composition-portraiture of the curves and nuances of a woman’s body twisted because they’re corpses while projected frontally with scenes and character introductions.. alongside a rich, sumptuous, brassy, Moroccan-cymbaled John Barry instrumental just as overtonally-sexualized as its visuals, given an Old Hollywood elegance by the booming, ornate, tonality-pure voice of Shirley Bassey on mic. The scene established a critical definitive feature of Bond films going forward – and was a benchmark that instantly and evocatively-proclaimed that the series was more than just the previous blockbuster-fluff of DN and FRWL: this was an evolution of the popular genre that was just as much art as action. Oh, and there’s also the iconic gunbarrel iris-in prologue to stay true/authentic-to-series-roots.

The Old-Hollywood Elegance

A Canvas Of Avant-Garde Craftsmanship In Visuals & Soundscape That Elevated 007 From Popcorn-Blockbuster To Work-Of-Art

Photograph Courtesy Of: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

The exotic locales in Goldfinger give the jetset 007 [thematically-resonant] backdrops perfect for his secret-missions and characterization. From Miami Beach clubs to Fontainebleu penthouses/pools to Latin America operation-explosions to Kentuckian farmlands to Fort Knox to Alpine Switzerland Mountains, Goldfinger might be the most setting-diverse of the Bond movies – establishing another benchmark element even critics of the spy genre or casual moviegoers can enjoy: international and cultural exposition from far-off lands they might never be able to visit. These breathtaking pastoral landscapes are traversed by Bond in a strongly-plotted spy adventure – in the perfect vehicle from one of England’s most prestigious carmakers that would become perhaps the most iconic movie partnership of all-time: 007 x Aston Martin. The DB5 is one of the greatest [if not THE greatest] car in cinematic history – a jaw-droppingly gorgeous gunmetal-silver grand-tourer masterpiece by AM and Italian coachbuilder Carrozza Touring Superleggera that has become a requiscent part of Bond’s personality and lore; the literal vehicular embodiment of the cool and masculine charm of the secret agent himself.

The Gadgetry & Aston Martin

Perhaps The Greatest Movie Car Of All-Time, The Jaw-Droppingly Gorgeous, Bulletproof, & Machine Gun-Equipped DB5

Photograph Courtesy Of: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Not only is it the perfect thematized accessory for Mr. Bond on a curvature and design basis, it also serves as a vehicle for one of 007’s best franchise-upgrades/features: tech and gadget MI6 Q-wizardry. This painting of nuts-and-bolts is just as much beast as it is beauty: equipped with everything from bulletproof windshields to revolving license-platses to 150 mile AV radar to smoke-screens to oil-slicks to passengerseat-ejectors to dual-machine guns. With a resumé and sex-appeal like that, it’s no wonder why the original model from set just sold for $6.7M at-auction.. and worth every penny! The hyper-masculine just got one-upped in masculinity be appealing to the gearhead and car-guy while also partnering a perfect man-with-machine – one taken full-advantage of by a kid-in-a-candy-store Bond. More precise, efficacious, & licentious, Connery’s Bond is back and better-than-ever – with full command of the character from the surgically-efficient opening mission and added twinges of tongue-in-cheek one-liners to his signature mix of acidic repartée and masculine charm. Even a 007 at peak performance and physical reflexiveness [also less hairy to fix even the slightest of nitpicks] is boldly pushed to the limits of his life and spy-career by the eponymous villain-of-the-hour: Mr. Auric Goldfinger.

No, Mr. Bond: I Expect You To Die

A Psychologically-Fascinating, Pure-Evil, Rotund, Capitalistic-Satirized Villain That Emasculates & Humiliates 007: Goldfinger

Photograph Courtesy Of: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

One of the most effective villains in 007 history, Goldfinger is the worthy antagonist of this MIdas tale. A psychologically-fascinating, pure-evil, rotund, capitalistic-satirized villain, he is like a dark revisionist play on The American Dream – a metaphoric subversion of the money-crazed barbarity Britishmen think of Americans or a joke-Donald Trump in inferiority-complexed ego. The villain likely served as the inspiration for Marvel’s villain Kingpin [now one of the top comic book and CBM villains featured in countless movies/TV from Daredevil to Spider-Man], a pudgy archetype that captivates by sadomasochism willing-to-kill 60,000+ people without batting an eyelash or brutally sic his muscle on anyone who challenges or says no to his inferiority-complexed ego. The performance by Gert Fröbe to bring such an eclectic and humorously-symbolic-yet-chilling character to life is magnificent, one frought with fast-paced action, preposterous charm, & chemical dynamic with Bond so fizzy, it can even make a golf game interesting! Through mad science, money, and manpower, Goldfinger does the unthinkable – and what few adversaries to 007 have ever accomplished in 24+ films: emasculate and humiliate Mr. Bond. JB is on-the-defensive throughout almost the entirety of the film, and even held captive and put in a position wherein he could’ve been easily killed if Goldfinger wanted by-lazer – bold-risk storytelling that highlights just how good of a villain GF is being, quite arguably, the main character of the film. Operation Grand Slam is a classic spy villain plot – and the side characters/performances involved are just as fantastic.

The Antithesization Of Bond Girls

A Cast Of Fantastic Characterization/Acts – Especially The Feminist-Subversion Of Bond Girls Pussy Galore & Korean Muscle Oddball

Photograph Courtesy Of: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Goldfinger’s right-hand-man and [Korean] muscle Oddjob is a chilling side villain that’s so good, he could’ve been a main villain for most spy movies – given a jarring chime theme as aggressive/brutalistic as himself and silhouetted tophat ensemble that play up the theatricality. Harold Sakata packs the murderous sociopathology and judo-fighting prowess Dr. No could’ve used more of – while also being Asian for added-measure and comparison, saying more with physicality/presence than many villains do with words. However, it’s not even Goldfinger or Oddjob that steals the show most: it’s Honor Blackman’s Pussy Galore. Although the name hasn’t exactly aged well through social-evolution [the first name has a more grotesque NSFW-definition now.. and it ain’t cats], PG is the feminist antithesization of everything bad about Bond girls beforehand. Busty knockouts no-doubt appealing to male-driven 007 audiences but scripted as nothing but [pretty] bodies for Bond to plow through, many of the previous Bond girls rightfully rubbed critical audiences the wrong way. Depth and own-backstories/arcs were must-haves for a progressive futurism of the franchise if it wanted to survive – and it’s shocking how quickly they rebuked everything beforehand here. PG is a pilot, leads a squadron of all-blond female pilots who might’ve been Bond girls in previous films, and not only doesn’t foam at the mouth to sleep with 007.. but manipulates and even fights back against him as a villain accomplice more frigid, authentic-feeling, and no-nonsense than past BG’s.

Flaws

A ~Racist Typification Of Asians (Complete With Ridiculous Sandal-Sock Costumes), The Plane Finale’s Era-CGI, & The Barn Scene

Photograph Courtesy Of: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

There’s even a second pseudo-Bond girl doing another classically-male activity in the sniper sister of the golden girl Tilly Masterson – again, given a strong fleshed-out arc past Bond girls have been sorely missing, and is refreshing to see a franchise correct itself so. PG might be the most character-developed arc in the film – going from a money-crazed fanatic part of GF’s plans to the crux/chesspiece that allows Bond and the U.S. Government to foil Op. Grand Slam. Flaws in Goldfinger are ~mostly limited to era-faults. Being Asian and a POC, the typification of Asians as always being part of the villains’ plans or servants (literally)-beckoned by the white man is poor-taste and racist [don’t even get me started on the factory-workers’ ridiculous costumes.. complete with sock-sandals]. The final CGI of the airplane finale of Goldfinger is cartoonish and plot-holed with there being no way a beefy man like GF could fit through a plane window, and the barn-scene is one of the worst scenes in 007 history. Bond [basically] assaults PG in sexual fashion when she’s saying no – absolutely INEXCUSABLE and a horrifically-written gateway to them becoming.. lovers? Make no mistake: Bond’s lascivious animalism here is poor-taste and disappointing character-wise, along with GF’s Asian quirks a package meriting understandable-hate in today’s more evolved day-and-age. However, these aren’t direct flaws of the film cinematically or story-wise, and are found in era-projects throughout – of course, not excusable, but something that shouldn’t tank an otherwise-masterpiece and near-perfect film by themselves – especially one that accomplishes so much & is very feminist elsewhere.

Conclusion

The Best Bond Pre-2000’s

The 007 Film That Elevated Him To A British Worldwide Cinematic Icon – A Magnificent & Comprehensive Blockbuster-Evolution That Pushes Limits; Best Bond ‘Til Casino

Photograph Courtesy Of: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Overall, Goldfinger is the best 007 film pre-2000’s – and one of the greatest blockbusters ever made. The original novel of Ian Fleming’s Bond gets a masterclass treatment on the big-screen: one that hyper-elevates the gadgets, girls, and gunsmoke of the trilogy into the British cinematic icon we know today. The refreshing avant-garde Old Hollywood-reimagined elegance of the film from the opening gold-painted credits dripping off the silhouetted sex-appeal only adds to the canvas of classic spy action from its thrilling cold open MI6 secret-mission. Connery is back and better-than-ever as a cleaner-looking Bond that maintains the sophisticated protagonism of his take on 007 – while adding even more savage comedy one-liners and flirtatious badassery with clear-command of the character in performance.. and perhaps the greatest movie car of all-time. The jaw-droppingly gorgeous, machine gun-equipped Aston Martin DB5 is pure vehicular-poirn – traversing diverse exotic locales from Miami Beach to Switzerland alpine meadows to the Kentuckian grounds of Ft. Knox. The villain is one of the best in series’ history: a ruthless, classically-evil businessman Auric Goldfinger that exemplifies capitalistic evils satirizing The American Dream willing to kill anyone and 60,000+ people out of gold-laden greed/pride – befit with a chilling muscle-counterpart and feminist Bond girl Pussy Galore that antithesizes everything we complained about in past BG-objectification by being a richly-screenwritten and badass, self-motivated pilot who gives 007 plenty of trouble as opposed to sleeping with him. If there are two flaw [besides the poorly-CGI’d finale plane scene at no fault but the era’s], it’s the ~racist typification of POC’s/Asians – given a ridiculous hyper-oriental outfit complete with sock-sandals while beckoned by-call to white antagonists and the barn scene wherein Bond basically-assaults PG (a shocking licentiousness-overload that betrays the rest of the film’s core feminist message). Still, these era-flaws are not a major film-affecting/detracting gripes in what’s easily overall one of the best and most excitingly/completely-told, twisty, and iconic James Bond films. The 007 film that elevated Bond to the box-office British icon the world knows him as today, Goldfinger is a new class of blockbuster – with avant-garde elegance/reverence, hyper-expansion of the gadgets & Aston Martin lore, strong villain and Bond girl-subversion, even-better Connery’s debonair mix of acidic repartée and masculine composure, & Old Hollywood ritzy glamour.

Official CLC Score: 9.4/10