James Bond is infinitely entertaining. These series has so far done nothing but demonstrate to me that he is someone I will never get tired of, and he oozes potential. If only the big budget blockbusters of today could all match up to the sheer enjoyment level supplemented by “Goldfinger”, the third Bond outing this time directed by Guy Hamilton (who would later return to the series with “Diamonds are Forever”, “Live and Let Die” and “The Man With the Golden Gun”). Sean Connery proves even more sufficiently that he completely understands the character of James Bond. People complained of Roger Moore’s age in “A View to a Kill”, but I think I’d pay anything to see the 85 year old Connery give the role one last bash.
Despite my ridiculous demands, “Goldfinger” remains the best example of what a Bond movie can be. It doesn’t concern itself with being the deepest and most heart wrenching film you have ever seen, but opts to instead master the formula it had already successfully pioneered in the great “From Russia With Love” previously. James Bond gets his assignment from M (Bernard Lee), has his usual “bi-play” with Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) as he exits, meets up with Q (Desmond Llewelyn) and receives his surprisingly useful set of gadgets and then he sets off to complete his task for MI6.
It all sounds simple, but there’s more to it than that. Stories like these require a strong set of characters to really let it take off and “Goldfinger” provides many, most notably in the form of Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) as the motivation and reason for Bond’s mission. Frobe plays a fantastic villain who is obsessed by the allure presented by gold itself and unlike later Bond villains he never skirts along the line between quirky and ridiculous. As far as I’m concerned he trumps both Dr. No and any of the various villains in “From Russia With Love” flawlessly.
Clearly though it is Bond himself who leads the charge here. He is the reason why these movies are so well regarded by so many. Bond is among the only characters that haven’t become universally tired and dull after 23 movies in 53 years, and Connery shows you why. There is humour in most of what Bond does, and even later in the film when Goldfinger has him placed in a prison cell with guards pointing guns at him with no hope of escape, Bond never seems like things are out of his control. It’s a false confidence almost nobody can convincingly pull off quite like Connery does with James Bond.
Action sequences in “Goldfinger” also feel much improved. As Goldfinger’s henchmen pursue Bond in his Aston Martin DB5 it is hard not to be excited to see Bond use all of the vehicles gadgets to evade his pursuers. Guy Hamilton knows how to take something that can very easily feel contrived and instead just infuse it with pure style. Oil slicks, tire spikes, machine-guns, Bond has it all, Hamilton is just kind enough to let us see everything we want.
That’s what “Goldfinger” is in the end, everything you could want from a James Bond movie. Goldifnger himself has devised an interesting plot to nuke Fort Knox, where all of America’s gold is kept. Why? So that the value of his gold increases tenfold. He is helped in his scheme by the fantastic Oddjob (Harold Sakata), who’s weapon of choice is a bowler hat that can slice solid concrete. He is a simple addition to the true villain that serves as an intimidating foe to rival Bond’s fighting skills with his brawn.
Also we finally get a Bond girl that is worth her salt. Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman) isn’t instantly swept away by the man god that is James Bond. She holds her ground for a while, but inevitably he succeeds in seducing her. Unlike the previous two girls who were essentially useless, Galore actually serves to add to the plot significantly. It is also interesting that she is initially on Goldfinger’s side, pointing a gun at James on a plane as he wakes up from his forced slumber.
Even the conclusion is simple yet furiously fun. Again, “Goldfinger” is the movies at it’s purest and simplest. It is one of those films I think I could see over and over again and not get tired because it perfectly taps into everything that makes a movie enjoyable. It may not touch the intellectual levels of “Vertigo” or “2001” but “Goldfinger” is an absolutely brilliant movie.