Up until now we’ve just adapted some books by some old Brit but now we’re going to do a real Bond movie. Gadgets, amusing names for the women, heroes left in death traps, naked women dancing over the titles, and even an Aston Martin. All this and more ….
We open on our now traditional pre-credits sequence and you know how last time I said I liked how it added to the world of Bond by making it look like he is up to far more than what we see on screen. Well this is literally that as Bond takes out a drug lord somewhere in Mexico before hitching a ride to Miami. Despite this being the first Bond Blockbuster, having the budget of the last two movies combined, and having a slightly shorter run time the movie seems to be filled with little bits of filler like this. Scenes that don’t really go anywhere, characters that come and go, and who segments like this which meant you could have queued up that little bit longer at the snack stand.
Starting from the top I think the opening credits are a hug improvement over the last two and there’s a reason that this song has stood the test of time as one of the Bond songs. Though watching the movie I think the thing that stuck me most, after From Russia With Love and Dr No, was the use of theme. In the last two movies we would play the Bond theme at random intervals that didn’t always line up with something on screen leaving you with Bond tipping the bell boy to the theme blasting out. They haven;t just replaced that with the Goldfinger theme but instead worked that into the score so there are moments of it, evocations of the main theme worked into bits delicately. However I wonder if the choices made here were emulated more than they should be however. We see scenes played out over lovely golden girls that emulate the up coming demise Jill Masterson and while it is a great opening credits for the time did we copy it because it worked here and thus should work on every other movie. I know that we change it up for each film but I wonder going forward how much will feel like a copy without understanding. Fitting for their first blockbuster of the franchise considering that is mostly all blockbusters are these days. Out of here and we are into our first recast of the franchise. Ignroning the quatermaster from Dr No who may or may not be Q and Morzeny from the last movie who goes the other way and picks up another character in a few films time. But that hasn’t happened yet so let’s focus on Felix Leiter. He has more of a part in this film but not by much and considering how little of a part he had in the last picture you can be forgiven for thinking this is just a different person altogether. The fact that he looks far older now and you expect him to be more of an M to Bond rather than friend leaves him in a weird place for the movie. He’s not bad with what’s he’s got but he’s not right either. As for the rest of the returning cast both M and Q get a bit more screen time with Bond to flesh out their relationship. For Q this isn’t hard as this is almost his first time on screen. He get’s to hang around Q branch while they are testing out equipment, roll his eyes and express his frustration at not getting the stuff back in one piece.It’s brief and shallow but the relationship is pretty much all there and it’s interesting to see how little it has changed over the next upteen movies or so.
M meanwhile get’s a bit more downtime with Bond as they head for a black tie dinner with the bank of England to discuss gold smuggling. This allows the two characters, and actors, to mix it up a bit with Bond playing a power play on the drinks to M’s annoyance. It’s a little thing but gives a sense of the relationship between the two. Bond bristles at M at times and is a bit confined by him but he seems to respect him and know when to tone it down and walk the line. This is a big piece of this film as despite Bond’s ubermench, Mary Sue reputation this is probably the most flawed and human he has been across the three films. When he is in the office with M after the death of Jill he doesn’t seem to be annoyed at anyone but himself for getting sloppy. Later on he has to stop himself racing another driver on the road and finally when he is placed in the easily escapable situation involving an overly elaborate and exotic death he doesn’t fight or sneak his way out with some clever gadget but simply calls Goldfinger’s bluff and crosses his fingers that Auric believes that he has passed on information, that he doesn’t have, onto HQ before coming here. Bond doesn’t even defuse the bomb at the end standing their in confusion instead until someone else gets to turn the switch. That’s not to say Bond does nothing in this film but he definitely feels less like the one man army we would expect nowadays. He manages to turn Pussy Galore, who I will discuss later, and he manages to find out the villain’s secret plot though the details of the plot being revealed are a bit sketchy. Sure Auric doesn’t monologue to Bond before his inevitable death but instead he tells it to others before killing them. This kind of goes back to the padding I was saying before. A bunch of crims have been working on smuggling the stuff Auric needs, into the country, and he tells them they can take what was promised or hold out for more when he raids Fort Knox. One person decides to walk away and the rest stay on. Those that stay on are promptly killed asking why he explained the plot in the first place. The one that walked away is driven off by Oddjob; shot and crushed making us ask why Auric bothered explaining it to anyone at all. It’s not as though it helped Bond much as while he got a note out to the C.I.A it was in the car that got crushed making a five or so minute drive to the local scrap yard quite pointless.
Speaking of pointless how about we discuss Tilly Masterson the woman Bond wanted to play Tokyo Drift with in the mountains. Now I kind of understand Jill’s part in the whole plot as motivation for Bond, and even the fridging aspect isn’t so bad given that this is her first and only appearance and it’s all over and done before the first act ends, but Tilly enters soon after on a quest for revenge against Auric gets into a decent looking car chase and is then promptly struck down in the dark. For a while I thought she had just been knocked out and would be someone for Bond to rescue later on in the film but now she comes for revenge, fails, and dies never to be considered again. Also I have to question how bright she was considering Bond almost tore her car in half with his gadget laden Aston and still manages to play it off as a puncture. Considering they take pains to show the blade cutting through the framework it seems hard to play off the way they do. Her whole part in the movie really only raises more questions than she should. She knows her sister was killed by Auric and Bond knows her sister was killed by Auric so why do they not go after Auric with that. arrest the man? Heck if you suspect him of smuggling Gold then you get him for murder and while you have him under lock and key gather evidence for the rest. But clearly that wasn’t seen as a good enough movie. This leads us onto our third Bond girl of the movie. Pussy Galore
Perhaps the most problematic of the Bond woman not helped by being the best acting thus far and the one with the best chemistry with Sean. Of course we don’t/ can’t say she’s gay given that this is the sixties but enough clues are there to make it obvious enough. Thus the notion of the male lead not only shagging her straight but also turning her from a life of crime with the power of his willy is a bit much for modern standards. The way their scene in the barn is played doesn’t help matters as while it seems to start out friendly enough with some light throwing around the climax had the word rape floating through my mind. The book attempted a bit more of an explanation for this with tragic backgrounds of molestation that lead her to adopt the gay lifestyle but for now I’ll focus on the movie. I suspect that if done now we could keep much her role in the movie intact but leave the pair friends with just a bit better writing and I think it’s a shame that they couldn’t do it then. As I said I think the great chemistry between Sean and Honor doesn’t help as you do believe these two and they play well together. Maybe if she hadn’t been Bond girl number three in the movie it would have helped too.
Oddjob for me was a bit underwhelming in this film. I know him from multiplayer and cartoons and he is one of the more famous Bond antagonists probably ranking higher for many than Grant from the previous film. And he’s not bad as henchmen go proving tough and deadly even if he does rely on throwing a hat on people. The thing is he doesn’t really do much in the film apart from a final fight scene in the vault. Again I suspect a more modern writer might be tempted to merge him with Pussy and I don’t think I would be against that. So who does that leave us with? Why Auric Goldfinger of course. After so much complaining I’ve got to say that I love Auric in this movie. He works so well as the villain and really shows us he can out think the good guys such as bringing Bond out of his cell to have drinks in front of the watching C.I.A officers to wave them off. Or the way he was wearing an army uniform underneath his coat, during the assault on Fort Knox, all along as a plan B that he adopts perfectly without standing around monologing or panicking. The way he keeps Bond around doesn’t always make sense to me but he’s probably the best villain we’ve had to date. He’s also the first not to be connected with S.P.E.C.T.R.E and that works well. The plot mostly makes sense and alows the Bond franchise to show that Bond isn’t tied to S.P.E.C.T.R.E and should something happen to them such as a final defeat the stories can carry on without too much worry or stress something that franchises usually struggle with after the fact and rarely do before the fact or even when they are only in film number three.
This isn’t a bad movie but I don’t think it lives up to the rose tinted memories and expectations.