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Goldfinger
1964 - PG - 111 Mins.
Director: Guy Hamilton
Producer: Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman
Written By: Richard Maibaum and Paul Dehn
Starring: Sean Connery, Honor Blackman, Gert Frobe, Shirley Eaton
Review by: John Ulmer
   
'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.

'Goldfinger' was the first of the iconic legacy to feature Q (Desmond Llewelyn) as a recurring comic relief figure. (He was introduced in 'From Russia with Love', the second film in the series, where he was credited as Major Boothroyd, and given little screen time.) It was also the first to truly setup the suave nature of 007, the tongue-in-cheek humor (absent in the first movie, 'Dr. No'), the far-fetched gadgetry (including fast cars, this one being an Aston-Martin) and, arguably, the first of the series to feature the famous line, "Bond, James Bond," as a 007 catchphrase, versus a mere line of dialogue. When Bond storms out onto the patio of the motel room, the camera zooms in towards his face, the 007 theme song roars through the speakers, and he says his motto with cool confidence. It's Bond, baby.

Both of 'Goldfinger's' predecessors were darker, more serious motion pictures -- more in-tune with the writing of Fleming versus the suaveness to later be salvaged from the series with the third installment. Although Dr. No was a terrific movie, and although 'From Russia with Love' is exciting, 'Goldfinger' beats them both. It features the best (and most famous) Bond villain to ever grace the screen, constantly spoofed in countless productions: Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe), the target of Austin Powers in Goldmember and, according to IMDb, referenced and spoofed in well over 100 other productions.

There isn't much of a plot, really. 'Goldfinger' plans to rob Fort Knox and become the richest man in the world. Bond finds out and tries to put a stop to his mission. What entices us, and what makes the film so entertaining despite the absurdity, is its leniency towards itself. It doesn't mind being silly because the entertainment value far outweighs any flaws. Plus, it has some of the most memorable scenes in history, and arguably the best Villain Explanation Scene to ever be recorded. "Do you expect me to talk, Goldfinger?" Bond (Sean Connery) asks as a laser beam slowly makes its way towards his groin. "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!" he says with mock ridicule, before walking away. The following shots is one of the only sequences in James Bond history where the iconic character actually seems fairly worried that fate may be playing a deadly hand.

Released in 1964, forty years later it stands as one of the most risqué Bond films to date. Especially for its time, there is brief nudity during the opening credits, sexual scenes, constant innuendo (including a Bond girl named "Pussy Galore," played by Honor Blackman) and implications of lesbianism.

Galore's sexual orientation is not delved into as deeply and explicitly as it may be dealt with in today's day and age, but the inclusion exists. Bond struggles verbally with Galore, trying to woo and seduce her, and she subtly implies from their very first meeting that she will not be seduced, claiming it is impossible for Bond to get very far with her, thereby insinuating that she is, in fact, a lesbian. According to the director of the film, Guy Hamilton, the entire situation is given much more emphasis in the novel by Ian Fleming, but it was simply too foul a subject for audiences back in 1964. Surprisingly, the verbal exchanges and implications behind the subject matter are much more effective.

All of the actors in 'Goldfinger' are, at the very least, very good. But of course, it is really Sean Connery who demands our utmost attention and respect, for it is Connery whose inhumanly strong screen presence launched Bond into the heights of Movie Legend.

Recently in London I attended a James Bond exhibition, and as I made my way through a maze of Bond memorabilia and objects used in all twenty-something movies, I found myself realizing that the myth of 007 propels the films farther than anything else ever could. There is a sort of iconic legacy surrounding the entire Bond franchise that will probably never die. Different action heroes come and go, and nowadays Rambo looks criminally out of date, but Bond, in his black-and-white tuxedo, with all his suave sophistication, will never grow old, because he is a timeless hero who is comprised of all the greatest heroic attributes to ever be assembled, and although his style and looks may grow weary amid the changing ages, his character will remain the ultimate hero, and I very much doubt that we will ever live to see a day when Bond becomes outdated.
 
Movie Guru Rating
A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic.
  5 out of 5 stars

 
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