Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released in the UK on September 16, 1964 and in the US on January 9, 1965
Directed by Guy Hamilton
Written by Richard Maibaum and Paul Dehn, from the novel by Ian Fleming
Cast: Sean Connery, Honor Blackman, Gert Fröbe, Shirley Eaton, Tania Mallet, Harold Sakata, Burt Kwouk, Margaret Nolan, Cec Linder, Martin Benson, Nadja Regin, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell, Desmond Llewelyn, Les Tremayne (voice)
Before writing this review, and before recently re-watching the movie for the umpteenth time, I regarded Goldfinger as my favorite of all the James Bond movies. But a more critical eye this time around revealed some minor bumps and bruises that had me re-thinking my choice for the top spot, which will now be filled by its predecessor, From Russia with Love. Don’t get me wrong, I still think Goldfinger is a first-rate entry in the series; though maybe not as believable or straightforward as the previous two Bond films, it does deliver a substantial level of smart, action-filled fun, and remains one of my top five favorites from the canon.
Sean Connery returns as MI6 agent 007, who this time must prevent gold-hungry smuggler Auric Goldfinger from detonating an atomic device inside the Fort Knox gold repository, thus rendering the gold untouchable and increasing the value of his own stash of bullion…and creating global economic chaos in the process. Along the way, Bond hooks up with CIA colleague Felix Leiter, acquaints himself with a bevy of beauties (including poolside masseuse Margaret Nolan, quite possibly my favorite Bond girl of all time), displays a cool demeanor and a dry sense of humor, and is introduced to his new set of wheels, the weapon-equipped Aston Martin DB5.
Guy Hamilton took over the directorial reins from Terence Young for this one, and along with third-time Bond screenwriter Richard Maibaum, injected a comic book mentality into the proceedings, while still retaining the serious nature of the first two films. For me, this would be the first and only time the melding of these two tones would work so well in a Bond setting, but even then it seemed a bit much at times, and I was surprised to notice how sloppily some of the smaller shots and details were handled by Hamilton. Fortunately, these blemishes were overshadowed by an entertaining story, a handful of memorable set pieces, and the confident work of a charismatic Connery.
Without a doubt, Goldfinger is essential Bond viewing, and for many it’s the seminal Bond film, where the franchise benchmarks of gadgets, gorgeous women, and outlandish villains truly got their start. I’d have to agree, and thankfully Hamilton and Maibaum kept it all from going too far overboard; for every laser beam cannon and bowler-flinging henchman they introduced, there was also the ever-present framework of a serious spy adventure to balance it. However, I’d read where Hamilton chose to excise the Sylvia Trench character, as played twice before by another of my series favorites, the pretty and playful Eunice Gayson, and for that, Mr. Hamilton, I will forever hold a grudge. (8/10)