No matter how many times we watch certain movies, especially the ones on our favorite list, we know the dialogue by heart, scene by scene, and what's coming up next. Many films make comebacks after decades on television and DVDs. 1984's Ghostbusters was recently shown in theatres again for its thirtieth anniversary. Movie revivals are not as common as they used to be because we watch HD films on "large" screens in the comfort of our own homes. In spite of all this, there's still nothing like sitting in a darkened theatre, watching previews and munching on popcorn or your favorite candy. James Bond has become an international institution ever since Ian Fleming penned his first creation, Casino Royale, in 1952. The twenty-five films taken from the novels started in 1962 and have continued through the most recent one, the successful Skyfall, in 2012. Seven actors have portrayed the famous British spy, the most recent being Daniel Craig, who embodies the ruthlessly tough, yet elegant, Bond. There is still an informal on-going discussion among Bond-lovers as to who's been the best Bond. I would rather say that regardless of which one you favor personally, each actor has brought their own special skills, looks and unique abilities to a role that might typecast them forever. Sean Connery is debatably the most famous and, of course, the first James Bond in films, having starred in six of them. In September, 1964, the third Bond movie premiered and here we are, fifty years later, still watching it and enjoying the famous signature song, all the gadgets, cars and of course, the beautiful Bond females. Why don't we revisit Goldfinger, shall we?
After the dual successes of Dr. No (1962) and From Russia With Love (1963), the creative team of Harry Saltzman & Albert Broccoli decided to make the third Bond film, based on Ian Fleming's 1959 novel. They had made a lot of money from the first two movies and had a large budget for what would turn out to be an international blockbuster. New things, never seen before in Bond films, appeared as the scope of the picture took shape. In From Russia With Love, Bond is given an ordinary-looking attaché case by Q branch. But it contains a knife, gold English sovereigns, an exploding gas canister and a compact sniper's rifle. All would be used by 007. But Goldfinger will break the mold for the world's favorite spy and he's presented with a heavily-armored and gadget-equipped Aston-Marton DB5 sports coupe. It has machine guns, oil slicks, dangerous spinning wheel hubs, a bullet-proof steel shield for the rear window and, of course, a passenger ejector seat – "You're joking." "I never joke, 007. Now pay attention."
Beautiful girls are standard fare and one of them, actress Shirley Eaton as Jill Masterson, becomes famous virtually overnight as she is covered in gold paint, discovered by Bond in his hotel room. The shot of her in the bed became an iconic image after the film's release. We meet other characters who will become unforgettable as villains and Bond film characters: German actor Gert Frobe brings Goldfinger to life with his grand plans for Ft. Knox and America's gold supply; Japanese actor and Olympic weightlifter, Harold Sakata introduces us to Goldfinger's manservant, Oddjob, whose hat is a lethal weapon when thrown correctly; British actress, Honor Blackman portrays Pussy Galore who will assist Goldfinger as head of her team of female pilots. Ms. Blackman had been Cathy Gale in the first The Avengers on English television. Bernard Lee reprises his role as Admiral Sir Miles Messervy, more familiar as "M", the head of MI6. There were other great, familiar character actors and actresses to round out the cast. Guy Hamilton directed the film and Ken Adam was the production designer. They would team up again for later Bond projects.
I won't bore you with the already familiar story and plot lines. But Goldfinger's budget allowed the film to become a much larger vehicle for the talents of everyone involved and prepared the movie-going public for many more Bond-stamped pictures to follow. It traveled to several countries and exhibited some great stunts and car chases. One of the most famous fight scenes in movie history takes place as Bond attempts to escape as he's handcuffed to the atomic device inside the Ft. Knox vaults. His opponent is the ubiquitous servant and assassin, Oddjob. It looks as though Bond cannot hurt or beat him as the two dance around each other. Oddjob's steel-brimmed hat will be his deadly downfall.
The film also introduced a piece of scientific gadgetry that didn't exist in the original book in 1959: a laser. The creative team for the film received help from two scientists to make the deadly device as accurate as possible. The scene where Goldfinger tells Bond, "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die," is all the more chilling as the narrow laser beam slowly burns and creeps up the block towards Bond's sensitive spot.
Goldfinger himself is obsessed with gold and anything to do with it. Most of the females in the film have blond hair; furniture and clothing are gold-colored; Goldfinger's classic Rolls-Royce is actually all gold as we see it taken apart and its fenders are melted down; his personal private jet is gold- appointed; even his pistol is made from gold.
Who hasn't heard – or can't sing – one of the most famous songs in the movies? Goldfinger by Shirley Bassey. She would also sing two other Bond themes for Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker. The legendary composer, John Barry, created the theme song and Goldfinger began the tradition of having pop recording artists singing the opening theme. Product placement got a huge boost from the film as the Aston-Martin pushed sales of the car through the roof as well as Ford-made cars being featured throughout the movie.
The film was a (for the most part) critical success but even more so at the box office. From a budget of $3 million (equivalent to $23 million today) the movie grossed (worldwide) nearly $125 million. It set the pattern and tone for all Bond films to follow in plot, design, action and characters. It has been the basis for many other films that came after, with homage films like the Matt Helms series and Derek Flint. The public couldn't get enough of Goldfinger. It broke attendance records wherever it was shown. I can remember its premier in New York City on a round-the-clock, 24 hour schedule in one Broadway movie house. That's where I went to see it. It received awards and nominations. "The American Film Institute has honoured the film four times: ranking it No. 90 for best movie quote ("A martini. Shaken, not stirred"), No. 53 for best song ("Goldfinger"), No. 49 for best villain (Auric Goldfinger), and No. 71 for most thrilling film." Many film societies and publications consider it the Best Bond film ever and its characters as the best ones created.
Here we have a movie that has, like many other classics, stood the test of time. We know the dialogue, the scenes, the players and their roles by heart. But we never tire of any of that because it's a part of us and the things that make us smile, or laugh, or more simply put, remember times past and those who shared them with us. That's what makes movies so wonderful and treasured for me, and, I sincerely hope, for you too.
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My views on an eclectic mix of films and personalties, past and present; emotional interpretations; some laughs, some cries.
I am a former New Jersey native, living in Charlotte, N.C. for almost 30 years. I am a lifelong movie lover with lots of movie trivia knowledge and soundtracks in my CD collection. I enjoy sharing my love of films with everyone and have so many fond memories growing up in darkened movie theaters. I have been married 50 years (as of December 22, 2018) and we both share a passion for film (and each other of course).|
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