My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Goldfinger, the third film of the Sean Connery era truly changed the James Bond franchise. Based on the seventh novel by Ian Fleming of the same name, this film built up on the momentum of the previous two and added the final motifs related to the franchise in becoming the quintessential James Bond film.
James Bond begins an investigation of bullion dealer Auric Goldfinger in Miami, at first observing and then upsetting his cheating scheme at a game of gin rummy which has deadly consequences for a recently met love interest. Back in London, Bond learns that Goldfinger is suspected of smuggling gold internationally and is task to figure out how he does it. After playing (and defeating) Goldfinger in a game of golf, Bond follows Goldfinger and his henchman Oddjob to Switzerland where he discovers how Goldfinger smuggles his gold as well as a meeting with a Chinese agent. However, Bond is captured and set up to be cut in half by a industrial laser but saves himself by lying about MI6 knowing about his plan with the Chinese agent. Goldfinger brings Bond to Kentucky, where on the surface he is setting up an operation to steal all the gold in Fort Knox but in fact it is to make it radioactive by setting off a dirty bomb. Bond “persuades” Goldfinger’s personal pilot, Pussy Galore, to notify the FBI and Army about the attack and interrupt it through Bond is locked in the vault with the bomb and Oddjob. Bond is able to electrocute Oddjob then struggled to disarm the bomb only for a nuclear specialist to arrive and turn it off. The film ends with Bond on a flight to Washington when Goldfinger comes out of the cockpit, but the resulting gun battle sees Goldfinger sucked out of plane due to explosive decompression while Bond and Pussy parachute safety to some secluded woods.
Though my synopsis of the plot is pretty basic, Goldfinger’s was clearly the best of these early Bond films. With a mix of action, espionage, and various locations, the plot was tight allowing both Connery and Gert Frobe (playing the titular Goldfinger) to deliver great performances with the latter’s becoming the standard future Bond villains would be measured. This film completed the motifs that would define the franchise: the Bond theme songs introduced over the title sequence began with the classic “Goldfinger” sung by Shirley Bassey, the Bond quote “Shaken, not stirred” was first spoken in this film, and Bond’s heavy reliance on technology.
Goldfinger is considered the classic installment of the franchise, in fact because of its huge success in 1964 that its script would be the template for films to come as well the reliance on technology that would be overused in installments to come. However, neither of those factors takes away the luster of his film which is always in discussion for the best in the entire franchise even 50+ years later.