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Goldfinger

GOLDFINGER (1959)

Written by: Ian Fleming

Goldfinger is not only the most famous of Bond’s adventures, but it’s also the darkest so far. Bond starts off the book reflecting on a particularly bad kill that he’s not proud of. He was in Mexico and had to kill a Mexican member of a drug ring. It didn’t seem like a much harder kill than usual, but Bond is very unhappy about the whole thing, almost as if he wishes that he didn’t have the damnable 00 in front of his number.

One thing that struck me here is Bond/Fleming’s view on drugs. Apparently, Fleming was perfectly ok with drugs being legal. Granted, not a lot of drugs were illegal in the late 50s because they just weren’t a known quantity at the time, but he thinks that it’s silly that England recently made heroin illegal. You see, doctors just want to help their patients with the pain of their disease!

(Keep in mind, this is what heroin was used for at the time…besides the recreational uses that jazz musicians had figured out.)
This is all pretty interesting considering Fleming’s involvement with the UN’s production of The Poppy Is Also A Flower, a very anti-drug film that came out a couple of years after his death. (Also starring Harold Sakata and directed by Bond director Terence Young.)

On the minus side of all of this, according to Fleming, heroin is ok, but “marihuana” is bad. He says something about the large Mexican that Bond killed having “eyes made bright by marihuana.” Uh…what? Have you ever seen a pot-smoker’s eyes? They ain’t so bright.

Anyway, Bond accidentally meets up with one of his opponents in the card game at Casino Royale, Junius Du Pont. This strange man invites (nee, IMPLORES) James to come back to Miami with him to see how a “friend” of his is possibly cheating him at cards. Of course, that “friend” is Goldfinger.

Bond is struck by the coldness of Auric Goldfinger. The man seems to peer directly into his brain when he looks in his eyes. Then, just as suddenly, he turns off all emotions and no longer cares about whatever he was just looking at.

It turns out that Goldfinger is using a young lady to look at the cards of Du Pont. She tells him what’s going on through a “hearing aid”. Personally, I don’t think any of this is very sneaky. “Nope. We have to play right here every time. I have to have my back to the horizon because I’m horribly agoraphobic. I’m quite deaf, so I need this hearing aide, but only when I’m playing cards.”

Seriously? You didn’t figure that out on your own, Du Pont?

The girl is Jill Masterton. When Bond breaks Goldfinger’s winning streak, he tells the strange man that Jill is coming with him on a trip back home that Goldfinger will pay for. “Otherwise, terrible things will happen to you.” Of course, they do it. Lots.
Back home, Bond finds out that Goldfinger is bankrolling SMERSH, the spykilling crew run by the commies. He’s also addicted to gold. He’s been hoarding it for years and, very likely, knows it more carnally than any other individual in history. He has stores of it all over the world and has been stealing it away to India to basically launder it. (There’s an entire chapter about the gold standard in Britain and exactly why Goldfinger is a criminal for hoarding gold. Fascinating stuff…if you give a rat’s ass about gold.)

For some reason, before Bond left Goldfinger in Miami, he was invited to play golf with the Goldmeister when they got back to England. Of course, after Bond finds out that Goldfinger is a full-on criminal, M puts him on the case and sends him to find the man and play that round of golf. (Bond leaves in an Aston Martin, the first (I think) of the book series. It has headlights that change color and a gun hidden somewhere or other.)

After a chapter and a half of golf, we find out that (shock!) Goldfinger is a cheat. Really, I don’t have any interest in golf, so I was afraid for these two chapters. By the end, though, the tension was building even if I didn’t fully understand everything that was going on. I was interested to see how Goldfinger would cheat next and how Bond would cheat him.

Here’s the real problem I had with this scene: it really seems like Fleming is looking for more things for Bond to be good at. Yes, I know that golf is the “gentleman’s game” and it’s no real surprise that Bond is a good golfer, BUT it felt like I should look forward to Bond beating someone at darts next. Or maybe curling.

This is where Bond is finally invited back to Goldfinger’s place. He meets a rather odd fellow named Oddjob…probably one of the most racially offensive characters in a Bond book yet. He has a cleft pallet and can barely talk. His hands and feet have been callused into sharp edges from all of the karate that he practices. (He apparently is “one of three in the world who have achieved the Black Belt in Karate.” I doubt that this was true even in 1959, but I guess judo was more well-known at the time.)

Oh yeah, He’s Korean so, of course, he eats cats.

Sigh.

This is also where we learn about Oddjob’s famous hat. It has the same function here as it does in the movie. It knocks peoples’ blocks off.

Things don’t get much better when Bond is served “some curried mess with rice.” When Bond looks at it suspiciously, Goldfinger says, “It’s alright, Mr. Bond. Shrimp, not the cat.” When he tells Bond to serve himself the wine: “These people are as likely to pour it onto your plate as your glass.” Wow. We like Koreans, eh Mr. Fleming?

After dinner (which, of course, was a test to see if Bond would search the house…he did) Bond takes off…only to follow Goldfinger to France. He plants a device in the trunk of the man’s armored Rolls Royce so that he can follow him all over Europe. But there’s someone else who may be following Goldfinger. Who is this woman?

Bond eventually sees Goldfinger take lunch near a bridge. When he goes to investigate, it turns out that Goldfinger left a payment for SMERSH under the bridge while he was eating. Of course, Bond takes it and hopefully fucks up some of SMERSH’s plans.

After this, he “accidentally” rams into the young lady’s car to keep her from following anymore. Turns out that she is Tilly Soames, a golfer who doesn’t immediately seem to have anything to do with Goldfinger.

Bond drops her off somewhere along the way and follows his prey to Switzerland where he finds out that the armor plating on the Rolls is actually made of white gold. The car is stripped and the gold sent to India.

Bond gets to Goldfinger’s property in Switzerland and, lo and behold, Tilly Soames is there with a gun. It turns out that she’s Jill Masterton’s sister. Jill was killed when Goldfinger painted her gold. It’s a little fetish of his. He paints a girl gold, all but her spine so that she doesn’t asphyxiate. With Jill, though, she had pissed him off just enough that he painted her completely, which killed her. Now Tilly wants revenge. Of course, they get caught and Bond gets taken to The Pressure Room where he’s strapped to a table with a saw slowly making its way up between his legs. Meanwhile, Oddjob gives him a deadly massage.

Bond tries to die, but he can’t. He actually tries to hold his breath until he dies. (Really, James? Are you six?) Instead of killing them, though, Goldfinger stops all torture and hires them both to help him rob Fort Knox. They’re going to take notes and basically do secretarial work while he and six gang leaders break into the vaults. At the meeting with all of these folks we finally meet Pussy Galore. She’s the leader of a lesbian troop of acrobat cat burglars…of course. More on her later.

For the next two chapters, Goldfinger takes us through his plan from putting the entire town of Fort Knox to sleep (wow!) with a chemical in their water to blasting through the vault door with a nuclear bomb. Yep. He says that he doesn’t want to kill very many people, but a nuclear bomb? Seriously?

After all of this yapping about how he’s going to rob Fort Knox with their help, one of the gangsters decides that he doesn’t want anything to do with it. Of course, as he’s leaving he “falls down the stairs.” So does his assistant. Pity. Bond realizes at this point that he’s the only person who can get the world out of this predicament…but how? He certainly can’t rely on this “silly little girl” who is looking at Pussy like she wants a snack.

He figures out that he can write a note to his old CIA buddy, Felix Leiter. But how will he get it to him? Where can he put it where someone will take it to the CIA?

This is actually about where we find out Bond/Fleming’s harsh views on women. Basically, women were getting their “hormones all mixed up” because of all of the freedom they had been enjoying lately. Men and women were trading places. “Pansies of both sexes were everywhere, not yet completely homosexual, but confused, not knowing what they were. The result were a herd of unhappy sexual misfits – barren and full of frustrations, the women wanting to dominate and the men to be nannied. He was sorry for them, but he had no time for them.” Um….wow. I knew that Bond was a sexist, misogynist dinosaur…but just…wow.

As I said, though…more on that later. I think.

Goldfinger’s plan starts off (about three chapters from the end, mind you) and seems to be going off without a hitch. Oddjob is still on Bond like yellow on rice. Then, suddenly, Bond’s plan with the note works out after leaving it on the plane. He had hoped that an airport employee would find it in the lavatory and, luckily, he was right. The Feds (led by Leiter) burst in on Fort Knox while about a hundred men and women are running around in doctor and nurse uniforms, robbing the vaults. (You see, the had to be dressed up so that people would think that they were taking care of all of the sick and dying “sleeping” people.) This is when everyone starts running around like chickens with Brits stuck to them.

(Ok, so the reverse racism didn’t quite work there. Oh well. Deal with it.)

Goldfinger and Oddjob get away on their train and none of the heads of the gangs seem to be anywhere. Oh well, James. Better luck next time, old man.

This is about where the book gets SUPER silly. Apparently, the entire town of Fort Knox was in on Leiter’s counter-attack. They all play-acted being asleep! Tha fuck?! Nope. I don’t buy it.

Bond and Leiter say their goodbyes after (very briefly) lamenting the fact that Oddjob had killed Tilly by hitting her in the back of the neck with his heavy-ass hat.

James tries to go home, but is knocked out by an “airport employee” who tells him that he has to be inoculated before he gets on the plane. He wakes up next to Oddjob and Goldfinger in a hijacked plane with the bossman FINALLY showing some real emotion. Bond kept him from his gold. HOW DARE HE!!!!

Goldfinger tells him that he had all of the gangsters killed…except for Pussy. He needs her. (Why? Who knows?) Pussy is playing the part of a stewardess, leaving Bond a drink with a note under it: “I’m with you….XXX Pussy.” (Why? Who knows?) Bond tells her to strap herself in tightly and cracks the window of the plane, knowing that there is no way he would ever be able to overpower Oddjob. The Korean gets blown out the window in one of the series’ goriest deaths yet. Then Goldfinger attacks him and Bond strangles him while in berserker mode…in the series’ next goriest death. (Eyes bulging out, face expanding, spittle flying…you know the type.)

Bond ends up taking the plane back over, but it still crashes, with the tail end breaking off. Bond and Pussy survive (!) mainly because she is kneeling before him (!!).

Bond and Pussy end up doing it long and hard because (surprise!) she’s no longer a lesbian! You see, she never met a man before. She grew up in the South where “virgin” meant “You can run faster than your brother.” Well, she couldn’t run as fast as her uncle.
SOOOOOOOO, not only is she a lipstick lesbian, but she was a lesbian because she was molested by her sicko uncle! And, according to Bond, all she needs is some TLC. Not therapy, but sex!

Oh boy.

Goldfinger (the book) is probably the most racist and sexist of Fleming’s stories…as far as I know yet. He obviously hates Koreans (and pretty much all Asians) and thinks that women have FAR too much freedom. He even says something about how it all started going downhill after they got the vote!

He would fit right in with the Republicans of today, sadly enough.

Yes, it was 1959. Yes, it was a completely different time. Yes, people were awful to each other. Like, absolutely terrible. People were being killed because of the color of their skin. Men and women had to hid the fact that they liked to look at pictures of the same sex.

Oh. Wait. Times haven’t change very much. We just allow gay people to be on television now.

What’s crazy is that the book isn’t really bad. Yes, the golf scene went on a little long and there was a LOT of explanation of the gold standard, but the intrigue was there. The interesting characters were there. The great story was there. I just couldn’t help but be appalled at the blatant prejudices running through the book. They’ve always been there in the other books, but this was far worse. It was just about the worst thing, in this respect, that I’ve ever read that didn’t involve and actual lynching.

I was pretty surprised at the violence and sex in this one, too. Still not as explicit as, say, a Steven King novel, but still pretty gory/sexy. What with Oddjob getting toothpasted through a tiny window (Fleming very nearly described his body coming out of his mouth) and Pussy…well Pussy…there was more sex and violence here than there has been in all of the rest of the books before it.

This isn’t a complaint, mind you. I like it. It’s even kind of fun to read the more racist bits just because it’s such a weird time capsule. To see a character that I grew up with in movies be this blatant about his hatred is interesting, to say the least.

I just hope that I don’t read anything like it that was written within the last 20 years.

By the way, for some reason I kept seeing Goldfinger being played by Alfred Hitchcock. I know Gert Frobe was perfect, but the way he’s written in the book….

CONQUESTS: Jill Masterton (Goldfinger’s assistant); Pussy Galore
GLOBE HOPPING: Mexico (before events of book, does it count?) New York, Miami, France, Switzerland; Fort Knox, Kentucky

GOLDFINGER (1964)

Directed by: Guy Hamilton
Written by: Richard Maibaum/Paul Dehn
Based on book by: Ian Fleming

The third time out, Bond struck gold…Finger, that is! (HAR HAR HAR!)

Goldfinger really is among the best of the movies. It’s dated a little bit, but it’s still an action packed, fun spy flick that holds up pretty damn well. It’s where everything that Bond is now comes from: the gadgets, the women, the over the top villains. Sure, Dr. No was a pretty big villain, but the movie downplayed him a bit, especially from how he is in the book. But Goldfinger is a BIG villain. He’s a weird guy who is just kind of on his own in the world, not working for anyone, unlike the character in the book.

There is no mention of SMERSH or SPECTRE in this movie. It’s the only Connery film to not mention them or Blofeld in some way. Goldfinger (until the video game of GoldenEye, anyway) is just a lone looney trying to make more money and throw the world off balance.

The movie opens with the Mexican job that the book only hinted at. Bond (Sean Connery, of course) blows up a heroin factory and heads in for one more thing: a night with a lovely lady. Unfortunately, that night is interrupted by a man with a club. Bond realizes that the girl is in on it, so he uses her as a shield, throws the man into a bathtub and then throws a fan in with him. “Shocking. Positively shocking.”

Moving on to Miami, he meets up with Leiter (Cec Linder this time out) who tells him that he’s not on holiday anymore. He has to find out how this man Auric Goldfinger (Gerg Frobe and his dubbed voice) is cheating at cards. Why? Meh. Who cares?

The same stuff happens as in the book except that Bond doesn’t take off with the girl. He only takes her to his room for dinner and…a bit more. (This is where he says that drinking wine at the wrong temperature is like listening to The Beatles without earmuffs…fucker.) When he leaves her for a second to get some chilled wine, he gets knocked out by Oddjob, who is only a shadow right now.

He wakes up to the famous golden girl. Jill is dead.

Bond heads home where M and Smithers (Richard Vernon, who rides this train regularly! Twice a week!) fill him in on gold. (Smithers and Bond show the connection that they almost had in the book by bonding over a joke about M’s choice in brandy. 1% problems.) M sends Bond off to play golf with Goldfinger…’cause that’s what you do with international gold smugglers. You play golf with them.

This is also where we get our first glimpse of Q Branch. It’s an amazing place where men can get shot with machine guns and not get hurt. Q (Desmond Llewelyn) gives Bond the normal chagrined look along with a small homing device (called a Homer) with a personal version attached to it and a fully-equipped Aston Martin DB-5. It’s fully-equipped with hidden guns, rotating plates (“valid in all countries, naturally”), smoke screen, oil slick, bullet-proof windows, retracting rotating blades on the wheels and, of course, a passenger ejector seat. “Ejector seat? You’re joking!”

“I never joke about my work, 007.”

Of course, you don’t, Q.

The golf game goes pretty much how it did in the book (complete with cheating on all sides, but only two holes of it instead of, like, an hour), and we finally see Oddjob (Harold Sakata, actually a Hawaiian/Japanese wrestler). He’s Goldfinger’s caddy and just kind of happens to be Korean. He still can’t speak, but it’s not because of any racist stereotype. Good for them for getting rid of the goddamn cat.

Bond is slightly freaked out by Oddjob, but manages to plant his Homer in Goldfinger’s car so that he can follow him to Geneva. (Goldfinger’s license plate is AU1, natch.)

Enter Tilly Soames (Tania Mallet), whose story is exactly the same as it was in the book except that she takes a pro shot seemingly at Bond early on. Bond catches up to her and destroys her car with his rotating blades of tire death and drops her off at a gas station, hoping that he’ll never see her again. (The chase scene between the two cars actually seems to have been partially reused for GoldenEye years later. Nice!)

Unfortunately, she does show up again. Bond does a LOT more sneaking around on Goldfinger’s grounds than he does in the book and notices that she is hanging out with her gun again. He catches her just before she shoots (she was apparently aiming for Goldfinger earlier…not a very good shot at all), but not before her gun trips a wire that alerts everyone in the encampment.

Bond does manage to see Goldfinger’s Rolls Royce getting stripped of all of its hidden gold, so he got something out of it before he has to run with Tilly. The two drive off in his awesome car (using the smoke and oil), but are eventually caught at a ledge where he tells Tilly to make a run for it. Oddjob gets her with his hat (she’s out of the picture WAY early, eh?) and Bond is forced back into his car with a Korean guard.

But 007 isn’t out of tricks yet. Just as an old lady lifts a gate for Goldfinger’s men and their captive, he takes a turn to escape and shoots the guard out of the ejector seat! Bond meets up with Granny With A Machine Gun and has to double back, eventually getting caught again. He’s knocked out and wakes up…

…strapped to a table with a laser being shot as his balls. (“No, Mr. Bond! I expect you to die!”) (By the way, this was the first laser in film history.) He manages to convince Goldfinger that he told his employers about Operation: Grand Slam…which he actually knows nothing about yet. Once again, he gets knocked out…

…and wakes up to Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman, the oldest of all the Bond girls at 37) who has a gun on him. Pussy is Goldfinger’s personal pilot. “How personal?” “I’m a damn good pilot. Period.” “Well, that’s good news.” (His reaction to her name? “I must be dreaming.” His line was originally going to be “I know you are, but what’s your name?”)

They’re headed to the US where Goldfinger keeps his horses. But what’s in the US? Bond manages to turn on his personal Homer (instead of writing a goddamn letter, which was a pretty flimsy way of getting someone’s attention, honestly) and heads out to see his captor again. (M’s response to Leiter getting the signal from the Homer? “Don’t charge in just yet.” Silly M.)

Of course, we know why they’re in the US. Goldfinger has a bunch of gang leaders at his farm in Kentucky where they talk about robbing Fort Knox. (Watch for future director Gerry Marshall as one of the gangsters.) Bond gets out of his cell by tricking his guard into opening the door. (I have no idea how the fuck Bond got himself attached to the ceiling without the guard seeing him. That’s a problem for another day.) He makes his way to the room under Goldfinger’s amazing game room that’s filled with hidden computers, maps, models and shit. (This model is now on display at the real Fort Knox.) The American gangsters all show how stupid they are when the technology starts to pop out from its hidey holes (“Hey! What’s with this trick pool table!” “What’s that map doing there?!”), but Bond hears it all and now knows all about the nerve gas that is supposed to knock out the entire town while Goldfinger and his men run amuck in the vaults. But they’re not there to steal the gold. They’re there to irradiate it, forcing the US into an economic crisis because, suddenly, none of their gold is useful. It’s radioactive!

What does Bond do? He writes a goddamn note that he hopes to get to Leiter.

Meanwhile, Leiter and his cohort are sitting at a Kentucky Fried Chicken saying, “He’ll shout if he needs us.”

(Facepalm.)

Pussy finds Bond under the model and puts his feet right out from under him. (“Pussy! Who taught you judo? We must have a few fast falls sometime.” She brings him to Goldfinger who is currently gassing all of the mobsters with the supposedly non-lethal gas…which actually is lethal. All but one who decided to not be a part of the whole thing. This guy is being allowed to leave and meets Bond briefly. Briefly enough for Bond to slip the note and his personal Homer into the man’s pocket, hoping that Leiter would find him. Unfortunately, Oddjob is the driver. While Leiter is following them, he kills the gangster and takes the care to a junk yard where it’s crushed, dead gangster, Homer and all.

So much for the note.

Meanwhile, Bond is having a roll in the hay with Pussy. She resists…at first. Then she realizes that she kind of likes dudes.

More on this later.

Leiter has made his way to the farm because he lost the signal from Bond’s Homer, but he sees Bond with Pussy and thinks that he has things “well in hand.”

Next up, Pussy’s ladies, who are acrobatic pilots here, spray the lethal gas all over Fort Knox, making entire battalions lay down. Goldfinger’s men head in and we see that Leither and his cohort are a couple of the people who have been knocked out by the gas. Could this be deception?!

When the bomb is flown in by Pussy everyone in town wakes up. This is a BIT more believable than the scenario in the book if only because just about everyone in this version of Fort Knox is military. It’s a bit easier to get military folks to all lay down at the same time than civilians. (In the book there was a baby crying because no one was alive to take care of it. Seriously?)

Bond gets tied to the bomb while all hell breaks loose outside. The vault is sealed off with Bond, the bomb, Oddjob and one other guard who Oddjob kills because he wants to disarm the bomb. Bond gets the handcuff keys from the dead guard and he and Oddjob duke it out in a pretty cool one on one fight. Oddjob throws his hat at Bond, breaking a bunch of electrical cords. Bond picks the hat up, throws it at a steel gate and electrocutes Oddjob when he goes for it. End Oddjob. (“He blew a fuse.”) Bond fiddle-fucks with the bomb, but it’s another guy who comes up behind him to disarm it just as it hits 007 seconds. (Again…HAR HAR HAR.)

Goldfinger has changed into a military uniform (complete with golden gun) and heads to a helicopter to escape with Pussy. But…how did everyone survive the gas attack? Oh, well, Pussy called Washington and changed the gas in the tanks. Why? “I must have appealed to her maternal instincts.”

Sigh.

Bond gets on a plane to Washington, but it’s hijacked by Goldfinger and Pussy. Goldfinger aims his golden gun at Bond who warns him against firing it in an airplane. Of course, in a scuffle, the gun goes off and, instead of Oddjob becoming human toothpaste, it’s Goldfinger who goes out the tiny window. The plane starts going down with Pussy at the stick. She and Bond eject just before it hits the water and blows up. Of course, they make it to an island where they don’t want to be rescued.

As ridiculous as the movie is, it’s pretty goddamn awesome. It’s still one of the best of the entire series and pretty much solidifies Connery as the Bond to beat.

Here’s the weird thing about it and the book, actually: Bond doesn’t really DO very much. He just kind of follows Goldfinger around while women die around him. He tries to get messages to HQ, but fails at every turn. It’s other people who do most of the work. Bond only saves himself and overhears out what’s going on. He’s barely even a part of the story! Sure, he “turns” a lesbian (although, that’s only hinted at in the movie) “straight” and she tells the authorities what’s up, but he doesn’t actually put her up to it. She does it on her own.

Goldfinger is fucking awesome. There’s no doubt in my mind about that. But it almost seems to be awesome despite Bond.
And here’s the “more on that” that I alluded to earlier: Pussy is a lesbian in the movie. There’s no doubt about that. But, partly because it was a movie in 1964, they don’t come right out and say it. She just kind of says, “You can turn off the charm. I’m immune.” and other things like that. But she’s still a lesbian.

Bond manages to turn her basically because Goldfinger tells her to show the spies that Bond doesn’t need rescuing. They end up in the barn and spar a bit with conflicting judo. Then Bond forces a kiss on her and she falls tits over tea kettle. It’s borderline rape, actually, but she succumbs to his charm and wraps her arms (and, probably, legs) around him like a life preserver. It’s a bit more believable than the book if only because she’s not AS adamant about being a lesbian and he’s pretty much an even match for her. Maybe that turns her on? I don’t know. I don’t like to think of Bond as a rapist, so I won’t. I will think of the 60s as being pretty unenlightened and thinking that lesbians are just lesbians because they haven’t met the right man yet. Of course, James Bond is that man. At least she wasn’t a lesbian because she was raped by her uncle. Fuck that.

Even with all of the changes between the book and the movie, this is one of the more faithful adaptations. Of course, that kind of goes without saying since it’s only the third movie. The early movies are pretty faithful. It took the 70s to really fuck up the stories.
One thing that I’m glad didn’t get translated to the screen is the blatant racism. The Koreans just happen to be Koreans. They’re not made fun of. They’re not made out to be cat eaters. They’re not treated as “good people, but savage.” They’re just henchmen. Yes, Oddjob knows karate, but Bond knows judo. You don’t have to be Asian to know martial arts. It’s just a tool. And, no, Oddjob can’t speak. (He only utters little “Ah! Ah!”s every once in a while.) But it’s not because of some racist stereotype or cleft pallet or anything. It’s just a character trait that a henchman might have, especially in a Bond movie. Kind of like crying blood. So, yeah. This movie is strangely devoid of racism for 1964.

No racism, just the normal sexism. YAY!!!

One thing that definitely helps the movie be as awesome as it is is John Barry’s amazing score. It’s not only the most memorable of all Bond scores (and theme songs, produced by George Martin and sung with enough brass by Shirley Bassey to make you forget that the first three notes are the same as Moon River), but it was Barry’s favorite of his Bond’s. That’s saying a lot, since he wrote the scores for 11 of them over the years.

If you’re a fan at all, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of this score. Definitely worth a listen or seven.

This is also the first change of director for the series and, honestly, I think it helped. Dr. No and From Russia With Love are great films, but they both suffer from slight pacing issues (especially Dr. No). Guy Hamilton, who would come back to the series when the 70s came around, upped the ante that Terence Young had started. (Terence would only come back to the series once…for Thunderball, but he’s still one of the Fathers Of The Series.)

The special features on the DVDs are pretty typical, but I think there are more of them. Lots of vintage film reels and interviews (including one with Connery and an open-ended interview with Honor Blackman), but all of them are pretty silly. But, that was the early 60s. There’s nothing too interesting, but it’s kind of fun.

There are also screen tests done by Theodore Bikel and Tito Vandis for the role of Goldfinger. I’m really glad they went with Gert Frobe, even if he couldn’t really speak much English at the time. Bikel was ok, but Vandis was right out.

The best of the features are, of course, the modern Making Of Goldfinger and The Goldfinger Phenomenon, narrated by Avenger Patrick Macnee. Patrick explains how Guy Hamilton and his cast and crew changed action films forever by making Goldfinger so much fun. The first two Bond films were much more serious with a slight sense of humor. Goldfinger, though, is almost as much a comedy as it is an action film. There’s absolutely no way that you can take Bond as reality anymore, with a gadget filled car (which, by the way, became almost as big a star as Connery after the film’s release) and a hilariously over the top villain.

Honor Blackman has a bit where she talks about how surprised she was that people were scandalized by her character’s name. Basically, she says, “If you take it seriously and can’t laugh at it, then too bad for you!”

I kind of love Honor Blackman.

One more Honor-ism: For some reason, she was asked at the premiere, “How does it feel to be half man, half woman?”

She broke up, leaned forward in her very low cut dress and asked him, “Which half did you have in mind for which?”

Again. I kind of love Honor Blackman.

If you have any interest in action films at all, I highly suggest checking out Goldfinger if, for some reason, you’ve never seen it. It holds up really well. The book, not so much, unfortunately. Good, but just not too “up to date” in a lot of respects.

CONQUESTS: Jill Masterson; Pussy Galore
GLOBE HOPPING: Mexico; Miami; Geneva, Switzerland; Fort Knox, Kentucky