Lone Wolf Sullivan is a writer, songwriter, and studio musician.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Goldfinger (1964) * * *

In the pre-title sequence, secret agent James Bond (Sean Connery) destroys a Mexican drug lord's base with plastic explosives and defeats an assassin by electrocution. "Shocking! Positively shocking!" he says. The actual story begins in Miami Beach, Florida, with CIA agent Felix Leiter (Cec Linder) delivering a message to Bond from M to watch Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe). Bond foils Goldfinger's cheating at gin rummy by distracting his employee, Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton). After blackmailing Goldfinger into losing, Bond and Jill consummate their new relationship in Bond's hotel suite. Bond is knocked out by Goldfinger's Korean henchman Oddjob (Harold Sakata), who then covers Jill in gold paint, killing her by epidermal suffocation.

In London, Bond learns that his true mission is determining how Goldfinger transports gold internationally. He plays a high-stakes golf game with his adversary with a recovered bar of Nazi gold as the prize. Despite Goldfinger's cheating, Bond wins the match. Goldfinger warns Bond to stay out of his business by having Oddjob decapitate a statue by throwing his steel-rimmed top hat. Undeterred, Bond follows him to Switzerland, where he unintentionally foils an attempt by Jill's sister Tilly Masterson (Tania Mallet) to assassinate Goldfinger for the death of her sister Jill. Bond sneaks into a factory belonging to Goldfinger and discovers Goldfinger's Rolls-Royce being melted down. Its bodywork is fabricated from 18 carat gold, and if Goldfinger makes six such trips a year he must be making a fortune out of smuggling.

He overhears Goldfinger talking to a Red Chinese agent about "Operation Grand Slam". Leaving, he encounters Tilly as she is about to make a second attempt on Goldfinger's life, but accidentally trips an alarm. Bond attempts to escape using his Aston Martin DB5. During their escape, Oddjob breaks Tilly's neck with his hat. Bond is soon captured and Goldfinger has Bond tied to a table underneath an industrial laser, which slowly begins to slice the table in half. Bond then lies to Goldfinger that British Intelligence knows about Grand Slam, causing Goldfinger to spare Bond's life until he can determine how much the spy actually knows.

James Bond: Do you expect me to talk?
Auric Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die. There is nothing you can talk to me about that I don't already know.
James Bond: Well, you're forgetting one thing. If I fail to report, 008 replaces me.
Auric Goldfinger: I trust he will be more successful.
James Bond: Well, he knows what I know.
Auric Goldfinger: You know nothing, Mr. Bond.
James Bond: Operation Grand Slam, for instance.
Auric Goldfinger: Two words you may have overheard, which cannot have the slightest significance to you or anyone in your organization.
James Bond: Can you afford to take that chance?
Auric Goldfinger: (thinks for a moment, then orders the laser switched off) You are quite right, Mr. Bond. You are worth more to me alive.

Bond is transported by Goldfinger's private jet, flown by his personal pilot, Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman), to Goldfinger's Kentucky stud farm near Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Pussy Galore: We'll be landing in twenty minutes. Do you want to play it easy, or the hard way? And this isn't a tranquilizer gun.
James Bond: Now, Pussy, you know a lot more about planes than guns. That's a Smith and Wesson 45, and if you fire at me at this close range, the bullet will pass through me and the fuselage like a blowtorch through butter. The cabin will depressurize, and we'll both be sucked into outer space together. If that's how you want to enter the United States, you're welcome. As for me, I prefer the easy way.
Pussy Galore: That's very sensible.
James Bond: Besides, there's always so much going on around Mr. Goldfinger. It would be a shame not to accept his hospitality.
Pussy Galore: I'm sure he'll be happy to see you, too.
(touches the gun barrel to his chin)
Pussy Galore: You like close shaves, don't you?

Bond manages to escape and witnesses Goldfinger meeting with U.S. mafiosi, who have brought the materials he needs for Operation Grand Slam. Each of the hoodlums has provided something--nerve gas, manpower, a laser cutter--and they expect a hefty return on their investment. Instead, Goldfinger kills the hoodlums and reveals to Bond that he is being paid by the Red Chinese to detonate a nuclear device in Fort Knox in order to irradiate the entire gold supply of the USA, thereby rendering it useless for 58 years and greatly increasing the value of his own gold. This will also give the Chinese increased power following economic chaos in the West.

Auric Goldfinger: I prefer to call it an "atomic device". It's small, but particularly dirty.
James Bond: Cobalt and iodine?
Auric Goldfinger: Precisely.
James Bond: Well, if you explode it in Fort Knox, the... the entire gold supply of the United States would be radioactive for... fifty-seven years.
Auric Goldfinger: Fifty-eight, to be exact.
James Bond: I apologize, Goldfinger. It's an inspired deal! They get what they want, economic chaos in the West. And the value of your gold increases many times.
Auric Goldfinger: I conservatively estimate, ten times.
James Bond: Brilliant.

Goldfinger uses Pussy Galore's Flying Circus of female pilots to spread what he thinks is nerve gas across the Fort Knox military base. But Bond has managed to subvert Pussy Galore and get a message out to Felix Leiter: the nerve gas has been replaced with something harmless and the troops who fall over as if dead are actually faking. Goldfinger's people invade Fort Knox and make their way into the vault. Goldfinger has an atomic bomb wheeled into the gold reserve and chains Bond to it. The "dead" troops attack, and manage to disrupt Goldfinger's operation, but Goldfinger activates the bomb and escapes in the uniform of a US General, killing his Chinese liaison as he goes. Bond attempts to defuse the bomb, fighting off and killing Oddjob while he does so. In the end, an expert disarms the bomb.

With Fort Knox safe, the President of the United States invites Bond to the White House to thank him. Bond boards a military plane for Washington D.C., but Goldfinger has forced Pussy Galore to hijack it. Bond and Goldfinger struggle for the latter's gold-plated revolver and accidentally discharge it, shattering a window, and creating an explosive decompression of the aircraft, causing Goldfinger to get sucked out of the cabin. Bond rescues Galore, and they parachute safely from the aircraft before it crashes.

Pussy Galore: What happened? Where's Goldfinger?
James Bond: Playing his golden harp.

Though DR. NO (1962) and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (1963) got the ball rolling, it was GOLDFINGER that started the 007 phenomenon, establishing an enduring cinematic formula. Dry as ice, dripping with deadpan witticisms, Sean Connery is without a doubt the definitive James Bond. No one but Connery can believably seduce women so effortlessly, kill with almost as much ease, and then pull another bottle of Dom Perignon 1953 out of the fridge. GOLDFINGER contains many of the most memorable scenes in the Bond series. From the "shocking" prologue to the exhilarating mid-air climax, it's a lightning-paced James Bond adventure that pits 007 against one of his most formidable opponents. GOLDFINGER is a thriller brimming with non-stop action, humor and excitement. With style, wit and wildly imaginative stunt sequences, this spy adventure ranks as one of the all-time great action films. It's an electrifying thrill ride that will captivate viewers from beginning to end.

GOLDFINGER is the third spy film in the James Bond series, and the third to star Sean Connery as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. It is based on the novel of the same name by Ian Fleming. The film was the first official Bond blockbuster and made cinematic history by recouping its production costs in record-setting time, despite a budget equal to that of the two preceding films combined. It was also the first Bond film to use a pop star to sing the theme song during the titles, a hallmark that would follow for every Bond film since except ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE (1969). Shirley Bassey sings the theme song "Goldfinger", and she would go on to sing the theme songs for two other Bond films, DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1971) and MOONRAKER (1979).

The cast also includes: Bernard Lee (M), Martin Benson (Solo), Austin Willis (Simmons), Lois Maxwell (Moneypenny), Bill Nagy (Midnight), Michael Mellinger (Kisch), Peter Cranwell (Johnny), Nadja Regin (Bonita), Richard Vernon (Smithers), Burt Kwouk (Mr. Ling), Desmond Llewelyn (Q), Mai Ling (Mei-Lei), Varley Thomas (Swiss Gatekeeper), Margaret Nolan (Dink), John McLaren (Brigadier), Robert MacLeod (Atomic Specialist), Victor Brooks (Blacking), Alf Joint (Capungo), Gerry Duggan (Hawker), Peter Brace (South American Guard), Terence Brook (Security Officer at Airport), Anthony Chinn (Servant at Stud Farm), Marian Collins (Girlfriend of Goldfinger), Michael Collins (Auric Goldfinger's voice), Denis Cowles (Brunskill), Hal Galili (Mr. Strap), Caron Gardner (Flying Circus Pilot), Lesley Hill (Flying Circus Pilot), George Leech (Man in Bulletproof Vest at Q Branch), Garry Marshall (Hoodlum), Aleta Morrison (Flying Circus Pilot), Tricia Muller (Sydney), Lenny Rabin (American Gangster), Janette Rowsell (Chambermaid), Bob Simmons (James Bond in Gunbarrel Sequence), Les Tremayne (Radio Newsman voice), Michael G. Wilson (Soldier at Fort Knox), Maggie Wright (Air Squadron Leader), and Raymond Young (Sierra). John Barry composed the original music. Richard Maibaum and Paul Dehn wrote the screenplay adapted from Ian Fleming's novel. Guy Hamilton directed.

This film was both a critical and financial success. The movie's $3 million budget was recouped in two weeks, and it broke box office records in multiple countries around the world. GOLDFINGER went on to be included in the Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest grossing film of all time. The film grossed a total of $51,081,062 in the United States. It won an Oscar for Sound Editing and is a definite highpoint in the 007 series.

The DVD contains 2 very good commentary tracks, 2 documentaries, photos, radio interviews, trailers, etc. Picture quality is the same as the previously released DVD-version and looks very good, but the trained eye can notice some grit and dust in the print. The mono soundtrack is adequate, and the start-up motion-menu is high-tech and gets you in the Bond mood.

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