Monday, 21 March 2011

Goldfinger


Goldfinger (Mwa Wa Waaaa!) is the film that shows that Bond has really arrived, as a character and as a franchise. As a franchise, we now have Shirley Bassey belting out the title song (written by John Barry this time), a flash car with accessories, and an evil henchman with some sort of random (odd?) skill; thus really setting the template for so many subsequent Bond movies.

As a character, 007 is a bit more ballsey now (he has the guts to wear a blue towel onesy!), and we start to get the impression that his reputation is starting to go before him; as Felix says: "He'll either be after a dame or a drink" (something like that). I got the impression that now he has shrugged of the spectre of SPECTRE, he's rather enjoying himself a bit more, despite being drugged and imprisoned rather a lot.

Of course by the third film James needs little introduction now, but his entrance in this film is almost as classic as the first "Bond, James Bond" in Dr. No. Stepping out of his frogman getup (and seagull) to reveal a white tux is as iconic a scene as Goldfinger's Laser "No Mr Bond, I expect you to die!". Unfortunately, following this great entrance, we are then treated to some nonsense as Bond sees a perfect reflection of an assailant in the eyes of his latest conquest (only to then use her as a shield! Chivalry not dead in 1964!), followed by a fight that can only be described as a slapstick parody of his struggle with Red Grant on the Orient Express in FRWL; Shocking!

Auric Goldfinger himself (Gert Fröbe) is a bit of a strange one. He is obviously a force to be reckoned with, (as demonstrated by his dynamic pencil-breaking upon losing a hand of poker); he can harness the power of gold to make a laser; and he has a classic villainous meeting room complete with rotating pool table/computer console, a scale model of his master plan, and secure shielding over the windows! However, he does also seem to employ the world's worst guards. James escapes from his cell having winked at his jailer and then slowly dropping out of view! He might as well have dressed as a washerwoman and hidden in a large wicker basket! Auric does also have the ability to look like he has had a bit too much air pumped into him, while impersonating a startled rabbit!





So far this all sounds rather negative. I really don't want to come across like that because Goldfinger is great. Great plot, great masterplan, great action (particularly the car chase sequences), several iconic scenes, not so great if your character is a Masterson! Also one of the best Bond Girl names there is: Pussy Galore. Honor Blackman is good as head of a flying school, but her character doesn't really give her much to play with, though she is able to make the audience a little uncomfortable as Bond forces himself onto her!

I think a lot of what makes Goldfinger so enjoyable are the foibles and idiosyncrasies; for example, Oddjob's theme seems to be someone banging on a triangle: Ting! Ting! Ting! Also, it could be that we have a definite villain with a definite plan. Dr No was clearly the main baddie, but we were never really sure what he was up to: something to do with knocking shuttles off course. In FRWL there is the menace of SPECTRE, but nothing very tangible as a threat to Bond (except bad fish/wine combinations). The fact that we have Goldfinger with an evil masterplan (irradiation of Fort Knox gold bullion to inflate the value of his own gold) makes the plot more obvious perhaps, but in a way that gives the feeling of a more complete package.

So, there we have Goldfinger in a nutshell; the quintessential 007 movie format, oft repeated in the franchise, but perhaps never done as well or with as much style.

Order of preference so far:
Goldfinger, From Russia With Love, Dr No.