007: Goldfinger (1964)
Goldfinger Ultimate Edition cover
Goldfinger represented a turning point for the James Bond films both artistically and in terms of the series' impact on popular culture. This was the first one to emphasize the hi-tech elements that would become a staple of the series. Likewise, Goldfinger reflected director Guy Hamilton's determination to bring a more tongue-in-check approach to the films, and thus introduced much more overt humor than had been seen previously. While some still argue that with Goldfinger the Bond movies abandoned all atttempts to reflect real-life espoinage stories, it can also be argued that this film is presented the image of Bond that has made him an enduring phenomenon: a cool-under-fire hero with a propensity to make witticisms even when faced with certain death.
Goldfinger was the first of the larger-than-life Bond films and the producers ensured that the (relatively) hefty $3.5 Million budget was apparent on-screen. Whilst Sean Connery seemed to have found a comfortable style in which to play 007, with this film the technicians increasingly became the behind-the-scenes stars. Certainly, there can be no overstating the contribution of production designer Ken Adam, who - denied access to the real Fort Knox - let his imagination run wild and carried out Cubby Broccoli's order to create'a cathedral of gold' at Pinewood Studios spectacularly well. Equally impressive is special-effects master John Stears' adaption of the new legendary gadget-laden Aston Martin DB5, which has since earned the name 'The Most Famous Car in the World'.
Goldfinger was the first of the Bond films to be classified as a box-office blockbuster. In those less cynical times, even critics were generally unanimous in their praise of the innovative style of the films. For many, the series reached an artistic high with this film, and it is certainly almost impossible to find much fault with it. Except for some back-screen projection work. (which looked somewhat shoddy even in 1964), virtually every other element of the film gels perfectly. Along with From Russia with Love, Goldfinger also presents the most memorable cast of characters found in any Bond film. Gert Frobe's title villain and Harold Sakata's Oddjob are truly unforgettable and Honor Blackman's Pussy Galore (yes, we really did blush at the name back then) was one of the first liberated screen heroines.
Mission Assignment (may contain spoilers)
James Bond is assigned to track the movements of billionaire Auric Goldfinger, whom MI6 suspects of smuggling large quantities of gold in and out of England. In Miami, Bond seduces Goldfinger's gorgeous confederate Jill Masterson, who helps 007 humiliate her boss by exposing him as a cheat at cards. For her betrayal, Jill dies a horrifying death: she is coated from head to toe in gold paint - a grisly warning sign to Bond to stay out of Goldfinger's affairs. In a high-stakes golf game, Bond - posing as a shady character with access to a fortune in Nazi gold - again humiliates Goldfinger after finding him cheating. Goldfinger issues one more warning to Bond to keep away by having his manservant Oddjob decapitate a statue with a razor-brimmed bowler hat.
Bond follows Goldfinger to his Swiss headquarters and encounters Tilly Masterson, the vengeful sister of Jill who is determined to assassinate Goldfinger. Like her sister, she also dies at the hands of Oddjob. Bond is captured and brought to Goldfinger's Kentucky estate where he discovers that his adversary is planning an outrageous scheme to increase the value of his own gold by using an atomic bomb to contaminate Fort Knox. With time running out, Bond manages to seduce Pussy Galore, the personal pilot of Goldfinger, who alerts the US government. Goldfinger's forces are defeated in an intense battle during which Bond manages to electrocute Oddjob and deactivate the atomic bomb with only seconds to spare. Bond later confronts Goldfinger aboard a plane which the defeated megalomaniac has hijacked. In the ensuing melee, Goldfinger is sucked out of the window to his death, while Bond and Pussy manage to parachute to safety.
Marketing & Merchandising
By the time he completed filming Goldfinger, the bloom was beginning to come off the rose when it came to Sean Connery's enthusiasm for playing 007. Besieged by an army of journalists and paparazzi during production, he became understandably intolerant of being asked inane questions by uninformed reporters who continued to try to make him indistinguishable from the role he played. Thus, the producers created the innovative methods for other cast members to promote the film. Honor Blackman was fitted with an actual gold finger which she wore on publicity tours. The absurd bauble required security guards to accompany her everywhere, including the lavatory. Blackman found a mixed reception in the media to discussing her character's name. Whenever she sensed an interviewer's embarrassment, she took wicket pleasure in mentioning Pussy Galore repeatedly. Shirley Eaton embarked on an international tour designed to promote her image as the much-photographed 'Golden Girl'.
Even the Aston Martin DB5 did its duty. The vehicle proved so popular that the producers had to commission another two cars simply to tour the world on publicity junkets (including th e1964 World's Fair, where it caused a sensation with the public). Following the film's release, Corgi Toys of England oriduced its first incarnation of the DB5 - and it quickly became the best-selling toy of the year. Meticulously made, it was to launch the longest, uninterrupted licensing agreement in the history of the industry, as Corgi continue to produce them to this day. Long after Goldfinger premiered, products were still being introduced to capitalize on the film's success. Jigsaw puzzles and the pre-requisite board games were available, as well as an action doll of Oddjob (which actually tossed a bowler hat). A series of bubble-gum cards in Britain caused a scandal when they were withdrawn because of the abundance of bikini-clad women. (Their value today is put at about £300.)
Locations for Goldfinger include London, Switzerland, Kentucky and Miami Beach. Second unit photography was done on location in the latter areas, but was seamlessly edited into footage shot at Pinewood Studios to replicate the locations. In fact, Sean Connery never set foot in the USA during the entire production. Even Auric Stud, Gindfinger's estate in the Kentucky bluegrass country, was built on the backlot of Pinewood Studios. The unamed South American nation where Bond destroys a heroin plant in the pre-credits sequence was actually an oil refinery in England.
Director: Guy Hamilton
Writers: Richard Maibaum, Paul Dehn, Ian Fleming
Starring: Sean Connery, Honor Blackman, Gert Frobe
Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller
Release date: 17 September 1964 UK
Budget: $3, 000, 000
Film number: 03
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Top Secret dossiers
Sean Connery - James Bond
Honor Blackman - Pussy Galore
Shirley Eaton - Jill Masterson
Tania Mallet - Tilly Masterson
Gert Frobe - Auric Goldfinger
Harold Sakata - Oddjob
Martin Benson - Mr Solo
Burt Kwouk - Mr Ling
Michael Mellinger - Kisch
Alf Joint - Capungo
Nadja REgin - Bonita
Bernard Lee - M
Lois Maxwell - Miss Moneypenny
Richard Vernon - Colonel Smithers
Cec Linder - Felix Leiter
Desmond Llewelyn - Q
Goldfinger Vehicle article
Goldfinger Gadget article
Goldfinger Music article
Goldfinger Character article
Goldfinger Opening titles
Revealing mistakes: The reflection that Bond sees in the girl's eye isn't a mirror image like a true reflection would be.
Revealing mistakes: The car goes off the road at the curve with the oil slick by turning sharply the wrong way, rather by than continuing on a tangent as it should.
Errors in geography: When Leiter contacts M on the green scrambler, the south portico of the White House is shown through a window behind him. There are no structures directly south of the White House to the Tidal Basin except for the Washington Monument.
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The Box Office
With Goldfinger, the Bond success story became a true phenomenon. Even Broccoli and Saltzman could not anticipate the public's wild reaction to the film. At the London premiere, the police had to use force to restrain the crowds from storming the cinema. In Paris, an obsessive female fan threw herself through the window of the Aston Martin which Sean Connery was driving to the premiere.
Goldfinger quickly made back its production cosds and worldwide grosses eventually exceeded $125 million - a truly incredible sum for its day. For a time, the Guinness Book of World Records cited the film as the fastest grossing motion picture in history.
Date Published: 18 February 2010 Last Updated: 06 September 2011