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Goldfinger (1964)

February 25, 2011

VERDICT:
8/10 Bullion Bandits

Understandably nabs that top spot in so many Best of Bond lists.

Goldfinger picks up with that handsome bastard James Bond following the trail of a notorious gold smuggler from Miami Beach to the Swiss Alps. What begins as a simple reconnaisance mission with a few dead bodies sprinkled in eventually escalates into JB working to stop this sonofabitch from nuking the USA’s entire gold supply in order to corner the market for his own super greedy ass. What a dick move. But in true Jimmy B. form, he plays it cool, gets laid here and there with multiple random partners, kills off 500 Asian migrant workers in the process and foils one plan after another while avoiding lasers to the groin and bowler hats to the face. TIME TO KICK SOME ASS!

So if Casino Royale had never existed and hadn’t been the cinematic equivalent of getting pure adrenaline shot into your eyeball, I’m thinking that this would probably be my favorite Bond movie of all-time. Granted, I’ve still got a long way to go in this Bond marathon I’m on and it’s been a long since I’ve seen any of these movies, but in comparison to the first two entries and the less than awful ones I vaguely remember, this one’s got ’em beat.

But the weird thing is this doesn’t really kick off that way.

For starters, the opening five minutes where James blows up a Mexican drug silo by snorkeling in with a fake duck on his head (what was that about?) has absolutely nothing do with the rest of the movie. The one perk of the scene is a pretty sweet fistfight between James and an angry Mexican, but then he uses some chick as a human shield against a billy club and the fight is ultimately soiled by a royally cheesy one-liner after he fries that angry, angry Mexican in a bathtub. And then we flash forward to James in Miami Beach where he’s getting rubbed down by a new girl who he dismisses from his sight by informing her that she needs to “Say goodbye, Dink. Man talk,” and then slaps her on the ass on the way out so he can have a convo with his colleague without any of Dink’s hormones and such getting in the way.

My initial impression was that somehow, some way, James Bond will have even more sex in this movie than the last two combined and it’s starting to look like the writers are giving up. But then the movie keeps going, the next two girls that look like they’ll be sticking around a while both get whacked, and the story actually ends up being the best one yet. Go figure, but I guess that’s partly why it rocks.

Man, this is just straight-up fun. I really liked the way James and the audience is kept in the dark about what’s going on and what Goldfinger’s plans are until he’s more or less putting them into action, and even before we’re keen to the big picture, there are a crap load of cool, iconic moments in the leading up. There’s the girl who gets doused in gold paint and dies from skin suffocation (easily one of the most impractical and highly suspect ways to kill someone), the kickass golf match between Bond and Goldfinger, Oddjob decapitating statues and crushing Titleists, a woman named “Pussy Galore”, the fact that James now gets to say “pussy” four dozen times because apparently was cool in the ’30s to name your kids after vaginas, and, of course, the laser beam that almost ruins James’ chances with Pussy entirely because Goldfinger doesn’t expect him to talk, he expects him to die, yo. The script is filled to brim with that kind of stuff, it’s surprisingly well-structured, too, and I only wish it had a better sense of humor to bring it all home. Those damn one-liners…

And, unfortunately, the final throwdowns that Bond has with Oddjob and Goldfinger don’t hold a candle to his final throwdowns with Robert Shaw and that grenade-copter in From Russia with Love, but by the same token, Oddjob and Goldfinger are way better villains. Gert Frobe does a bang-up job as Goldfinger himself, and I really liked that he had some personality to add his reputation as a stone gold killer (see what I did there?). He’s the world’s biggest sore loser, he’s got some pretty ingenious tricks up his sleeve that seem to fool a whole lot of people, and he’s got a fuckin’ six-shooter made out of gold for when you can’t just murder someone by crushing them at the scrapyard. Darn tootin’ and he’s one villain that Mike Myers really did a God-awful impression of. Although I can’t say I was too crazy about Oddjob crowing like a douche every time he needed to get his boss’ attention. A simple wave or gentle hat toss would have done just fine.

And as for the gadgets, they’re starting to walk that fine line between practical and awfully convenient thanks to an ejector seat that Q throws into Bond’s new Aston Martin, but then again, watching one of the Asian migrant workers get launched onto the pavement in all its ragdoll glory was a major highlight. But that’s the extent of the eyebrow-raising ’cause everything else kinda makes sense. If I was a double-O, you bet your ass I’d like to have some handheld tracking devices at my disposal, and if I had a pimped out Aston Martin, I think I could make good use of oil slicks, smoke screens, bulletproof windows, destructo hubcaps and built-in machine guns. The other thing I dig is that Bond ends up using a ton of these all within ten minutes or so and still ends up getting caught by Goldfinger’s cronies. Would have called “bullshit” if it had ended differently and he sure gets put into some tight fixes here.

So I really liked Dr. No a lot more than I thought I would and if it weren’t for that damn gypsy scene in From Russia with Love I’d probably say the same thing, but Goldfinger really is the best of the three. It goes by in a flash and the complaints I’ve got all pale in comparison to the ways it improves everything that already worked. And on top of that, Connery’s looking better than ever. He’s still a total badass, and whenever I think of him as JB, most of the imagery that comes to mind is taken right from here. Goldfinger is why people love James Bond, it’s nice to watch a classic Bond movie for once and not think of Austin Powers every five minutes, and it all comes together to make one hell of a spy thriller.

Killer theme song, too.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 25, 2011 5:17 am

    GOLDFINGER! Du-du-du-du-dum! He’s the man, the man with the golden nuts! Every time I hear about or see this film I can’t get the theme song out of my head.

    Great review, one of the best of the Connery Bonds.

    • February 25, 2011 2:42 pm

      Haha. Thanks, man. Been singing it for a couple days now, too. Serenity now.

  2. February 25, 2011 6:33 pm

    As you say dude, definitely one of the best films in the franchise. Don’t know why but EVERYTHING is just so iconic and cool. The baddie’s a fat german, Golf shouldn’t be this exciting, a pew pew lasers and ridiculous gangsters… yet it’s all still cool?!!?

    Got to love every minute of this romp.

    • February 28, 2011 1:48 pm

      Haha. Well said, man. Doesn’t sound so awesome in theory but it totally is in practice. Go figure.

  3. March 2, 2011 1:40 pm

    It surprised me, but I actually loved this film. It was just so unexpected and different from what I expected from Bond, almost completely undermining the character at every turn, that it was a blast.

    Like you, I’ve got a lot more Bond to see, but this one is my favorite so far.

    • March 7, 2011 1:56 pm

      Yeah, it’s a winner alright. Lived up to the legend and I think it’s gonna be a while ’til I get to another entry that’s as good. Here’s to hoping I’m wrong.

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