Cert: PG Runtime: 110 mins Director: Guy Hamilton Starring: Sean Connery, Gert Fröbe and Honor Blackman
You’re a woman of many parts, Pussy!
With Skyfall coming out next week I thought my blast from the past would be my favourite Bond movie, Goldfinger. For me it’s the ultimate Bond film. Goldfinger could best be described as the quintessential, definitive Bond film, the first of the series to set the necessities of the entire saga in motion. It is also the best of the Bond movies, arguably the most suave and sophisticated, far superior to the Roger Moore era and those who followed in Connery’s footsteps. It is the Bond ultimatum, so to speak.The story follows a powerful tycoon Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe) initiating “Operation Grand Slam,” a cataclysmic scheme to raid Fort Knox and obliterate the world economy. James Bond (Sean Connery), armed with his specially equipped Aston Martin (its accessory package includes built-in machine guns, a smoke screen and an ejector seat), must stop the plan by overcoming several outrageous adversaries. First there’s Oddjob (Harold Sakata), the mute servant who kills at the toss of a lethal hat; next, the beautiful Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton), who gives new meaning to the phrase “golden girl”; and finally, sexy pilot Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman), whose romantic feelings for Bond complicate her involvement in Goldfinger’s high-flying scheme.
The film has a rather basic storyline of how Goldfinger plans to raid Fort Knox and become the richest man in the world and Bond sets out to thwart him. Though the storyline may have been nothing special but the film’s use of iconography and presentation that made it outshine other Bond issues. Unlike the more recent Bond films such as Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace etc, Goldfinger has that James Bond feel to it. What I mean by this is that the newer Bond issues lack the conventions, which made it successful and unique for example there isn’t as much use of gadgets in newer Bond films. I mean you have a beautiful Aston Martin DB5 and not only has it got the speed, but those gadgets within it which Bond can utilise when he is in a chase scene, that can help make it epic and breathtaking. This was shown very well in this film as Bond can shoot from using in his car, track villains down, and one particular gadget, the ejector seat, which simple but effective and amusing. There is something else which also stands out in this film and which is decreased in the newer Bond films and that is clichés. For me I think it is a huge mistake of not utilising clichés in up coming Bond films, as you look in modern times, we can watch so many films of the action/adventure genre, who now also use the similar conventions such as the gadgets, the fast cars etc, that you would want a film which is unique on its own. This is where I feel clichés are really important and how it shows this film having that James Bond feel than of Quantum of Solace for example. One real famous cliché, which is used in this film, is when Sean Connery’s character says “The names Bond. James Bond”. The use of clichés in this film like the one I just quoted can show the iconic status of James Bond.
The acting in Goldfinger was absolutely superb especially of Sean Connery and Gert Fröbe, who both had unique characters and were the perfect match in the antagonist and protagonist. This film displayed Auric Goldfinger as a real legitimate threat and as a sadistic psychopath. There is a famous scene which shows this aspect of his character where a laser beam is about cut Bond in half, James says “Do you expect me to talk, Goldfinger?” to which Goldfinger replies “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!”. In the following moments we see Bond worried and I feel this can allow us to recognise Auric Goldfinger as a powerful enemy and as an equal to Bond. The fact that we see James Bond anxious is very rare in the franchise as he has a very strong screen presence and there is an expectation of him being the powerful, authoritative figure. With this expectation, the franchise shows itself as a fairytale and the film also displays this. The character of Bond shows to be a resilient hero that defeats the bad guy and saves the world. But the earlier Bond character, which was acted by Sean Connery, Roger Moore, showed wit and humour which so dearly lacks now. Now that we distinguished the traits and personality of the good character and the bad character, what else does every evil, manipulative villain need in the James Bond franchise? For those who haven’t guessed it, there is one word, which I’m looking and that’s henchman. Henchmen’s play a huge part in the Bond film chain (Stamper, Tee Hee and Gobinda to name a few) as they are presented as the unstoppable force that 007 has to fight. The main henchman in this film is Oddjob who is played by Harold Sakata and to be quite honest with you, he is my favourite henchman throughout the whole series. The reason being is that he is silent, manservant of Goldfinger but is a ruthless killer and ends up having an epic battle with James Bond, who has to use his intelligence and resiliency to defeat the Korean born wrecking machine.
As always every Bond film needs Bond girls! Now first of all I would like us to consider the fact that Goldfinger was made in 1964, so naturally back then, the female gender was seen as the inferior sex however that did not stop the persistent use of sexual innuendo but it isn’t as explicit as it used in the more recent Bond movies. The main Bond girl in this film goes by the name of Pussy Galore (note the strong use of innuendo in the name!), but she isn’t the stereotypical Bond girl that gets taken in by 007. When we see her first meet James Bond, there is a clear indication that she will not be seduced and she is playing hard to get. With this we can make the clear assumption that she is not the stereotypical female, and to emphasise this further, in the film her profession is a pilot and she also has learnt judo, thus revealing the masculine nature in the character, evidently summing up why she isn’t easily taken in by Bond. Eventually however, she falls for him and again it’s mainly about Bond’s character, his wit, his bravery, and his intelligence. Having such characteristics is sure to woo even the likes of Galore.