Classic Film Review: Goldfinger (1964)

Goldfinger, 1964

Directed by: Guy Hamilton

James Bond: Sean Connery

Also Starring: Honor Blackman, Gert Frobe

 

With each passing James Bond film an extra part is added which shapes the direction of the James Bond films; with Goldfinger that was the mention of James Bond’s drink preference: ‘Shaken, not stirred.’ In Goldfinger James Bond (Sean Connery) is tasked with preventing a gold-smuggler, Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe), and his ultimate plan on breaking into Fort Knox.

Each passing Bond film has been upping its budget (Golfinger’s budget is Dr. No and From Russia with Love’s combined) and this film shows it; with more gadgets, more explosions, better acting from the rest of the cast, and ultimately ends up with a better film. As mentioned the acting is better, as with Dr. No and From Russia with Love the Bond Girl was acted poorly, while Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman), and before her Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton) and Tilly Masterson (Tania Mallet), are acted quite well for their part. And what helped with this film is Goldfinger has a sidekick, Oddjob (Harold Sakata), and Oddjob is threatening, powerful, clever and silent, and comes across as a serious threat to James Bond. However this also adds to my biggest disappointment from this film: There isn’t enough time with James Bond fighting Oddjob or being the spy that he is; early on James Bond is caught and is kept in a cell (after his famous line during his near-death torture: ‘Do you expect me to talk?’ ‘No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.’), this capture lasts throughout a large part of the film and keeps Bond away from being Bond.

The deaths of the Masterson sisters was handled brilliantly, though, as even though they weren’t given a lot of screen time, both said enough during their brief lines of dialogue to make their deaths quite saddening after the fact, and it added an extra layer to James Bond as he wasn’t able to save them. I don’t know if this will play out in Thunderball, as I haven’t seen it yet, but it seemed like they were building a nice arc where James Bond is perhaps starting to fall as a hero (being threatened with replacement, he couldn’t save the girls’ lives, being captured and not playing a major role in saving the day).

I really wanted to award this film four stars for presentation but there was one scene which confused me more than anything: Bond is driving away from cars pursuing him, and one of those cars goes off a cliff and explodes straight away, in that moment, though, the film seems to turn into a slow-motion, but not the usual, it was as if the speed had gone from x1 to x0.9, it was only a fraction slower but it was enough to be noticeable and look quite poor: much slower would be fine, same speed would be fine, but that tiny little slowing down just felt poor.

I personally feel the Bond films are improving with each passing film, in terms of overall plot, film pacing, acting and general presentation of the film, and Goldfinger created a lot of important parts of the Bond films to this date (the car, the gadgets, the ejector seat) with a great villainous duo in Oddjob and Goldfinger, and a Bond Girl with a personality in Pussy Galore. It just felt a shame it kept Bond hidden away for so long, preventing him from being the spy we all know and love. But, still, a very entertaining film.

 

Plot: * * * *

Acting: * * * *

Writing: * * * *

Presentation: * * *

Overall Rating: * * * ¾

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