Bond evolution – Goldfinger (#3)

Compared to the gyrating belly dancer, these opening credits feature a static golden girl, a preface to what is coming. And of course you have Shirley Bassey belting out that great theme song “GOOOOLD fing-gaaah… he’s the man, the man with the Midas touchhhh…” Even if you’ve never seen the film, even if you’ve never heard the whole song, you would surely recognise those first three syllables.

Exotic locations: certainly we have more of them this time; the success of the previous films means the Bond film budget is increasing! This film takes us from the beaches of Miami to London to the mountains of Switzerland to a horse racing stable in Kentucky.

Outdated attitudes: And when we meet Bond in Miami, he is enjoying a massage, from an attractive young girl, of course. When his CIA counterpart Felix turns up to discuss work, Bond dismisses his masseuse by saying “Man talk” and slaps her butt as she walks away. ARGH! And in those days women had to put up with this kind of behaviour as a ‘compliment’? ARGH!

And the outdated attitudes aren’t just in the way women are treated. What about the scene with the dinner at the Bank of England, where the men (of course, only men!) are drinking from the most outrageously sized brandy glasses I’ve ever seen. discussing the price of gold. This seemed not right to me – does gold have different prices in different countries? I thought gold had an internationally agreed price? How can it be worth different amounts in different countries? Perhaps I’m being too picky on the irrelevant details…

However there is some evolution from Dr. No – in this film they have actually used Asian actors instead of painted up Europeans to portray the Chinese “minions” involved in the villainous plot (more on that later).

Bond Women: Despite her ridiculous name (and I think this must be #1 in the list of offensive names of Bond Women), Pussy Galore is proficient at Judo and also an accomplished pilot who runs her own acrobatic flying troupe – all women. Or “chaps” as Bond mistakenly refers to them, when first seeing the five planes performing manoeuvres. Honor Blackman plays this role with a strong undertone of being angry, and deservedly so for having been given a character with such a ridiculous name.

*spoiler alert*

And are we meant to believe that having sex with Bond converted Ms Galore from a bad guy to a good guy? No wonder this man is so highly prized as a spy.

However Bond’s carelessness is directly responsible for the death of two women in this film – sisters at that. He seduces Jill Masterson away from Goldfinger, resulting in her being killed in the ridiculous (but iconic) manner of having her body painted gold, therefore suffocating through her skin. (Science tells us that is not possible.) And then her her sister Tilly killed when she tries to avenge her sister’s death by shooting Goldfinger. And does Bond seem sorry about it? No, not really. I wonder if there’s scope for a follow-on film where the Masterson family sue MI6 for causing the death of their two daughters?

Goldfinger (film) - Wikipedia
‘Golden girl’ – although science tells us being covered in gold paint won’t kill you – you breathe through your nose and mouth, not your skin.

The Villain of the piece is the eponymous Goldfinger. For some reason I warmed to the character of Goldfinger. Perhaps it was his extreme confidence in his villainous plot. Or perhaps it was the way the actor played him – not in an overbearing or dramatic or creepy way, it was quite understated and almost casual. Even to his enemies he always seemed quite friendly and relaxed. Probably making him a more dangerous villain than the obviously evil ones.

*spoiler alert*

Goldfinger’s villainous plot seems pointless again. The gold in Fort Knox doesn’t ever leave Fort Knox or go anywhere, so why does it matter if it’s radioactive? And why invite the leaders of the various crime syndicates who helped you out to a meeting where you reveal your villainous plot in extreme detail only to kill them straight afterwards?

Spycraft: “Boothroyd” has now become Q, and has evolved into being the gadget man, although in the line of spywork, a tracking device would come in handy (keep your eyes peeled for the pre-sat-nav era sat nav tracking screen in the cars!)

This film does have some “classic” lines of dialogue:

As Bond is tied to a table with a laser burning its way closer to his groin he asks Goldfinger: “Do you expect me to talk?” Goldfinger replies with a flippant, “No Mr Bond, I expect you to die.” (I always liked the way Goldfinger pronounces “die” here, more like “daaiee”.)

*spoiler alert – Bond doesn’t die!*

Film epilogue: since Ms Galore didn’t get her cut from the villainous plot, she wouldn’t have been able to retire to that tropical island she was thinking about. Perhaps she got some kind of financial recompense for turning against Goldfinger? I see her going to work in South America for a few years, before getting fed up with the machismo culture, and deciding to retrain as a commercial pilot, flying long haul flights, with a lover in every city. She would have been canny about investing her money and would have had a nice little nest egg to retire on. Maybe not her own island, but her own place on an island.

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