Goldfinger (1964) a (ludicrously) belated review

Way, waaay back when Dr. No, the first James Bond movie, was released in 1962, it was a hit and launched the then new action/secret agent genre. A year later and in 1963, Sean Connery returned to the role for From Russia With Love. And a year after that, he would return for the third time in what many consider the best of the early Bond films, Goldfinger.

For those living in a cave the last few decades, the movie’s trailer:

This was the Bond movie that first really pushed the idea of spectacle and it was mostly done by giving Bond a tricked out car, the famous silver Aston Martin DB5 and its many gadgets…

This weekend and for whatever reason, our local iPic theater was playing Goldfinger and we decide to give it a look. I’ve seen the film several times before but not recently so I was curious how I would react to seeing it again, this time on the big screen, and if it would show its age.

Well, I won’t keep you in suspense here: I felt the film did show its age. But having said that, it was expected.

Considering the way “spectacle” films are nowadays, Goldfinger comes off as at times almost tame in its bigger action sequences yet the story is what makes the film sing.

For Goldfinger is a film that puts you in bond’s shoes regarding what the villain is up to… and often Bond -and the viewer- don’t know quite what the hell is going on.

The movie starts with Bond finishing off a mission before heading to Miami Beach and brushing against Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe, quite good as the spoiled yet devious titular villain). Goldfinger, we find, has somehow been smuggling (you guessed it) gold from country to country, taking advantage of the exchange rates to make out like a bandit… and England isn’t too happy about that. They’ve tried to figure out how he does it but so far haven’t and Bond, afterwards, is assigned to figure out what he’s up to.

I’ve skipped a few details because I don’t want to get into SPOILERS but suffice to say Bond winds up finding himself in great danger the closer he gets to Goldfinger. More importantly, he realizes Goldfinger has some kind of sinister master plan in the works and must use his wits to stay alive long enough to both figure that plan out and thwart it.

Again, the action sequences may be lacking to modern audiences but the general excitement, and mystery, regarding Goldfinger is the engine that keeps this film going. The cast, beyond Connery’s Bond and Frobe’s Goldfinger, is also to die for. The almost ethereally beautiful Shirley Eaton has a small role at the start of the film as Jill Masterson. Honor Blackman is cool and sexy as (don’t know how they got away with it) Pussy Galore. And then there’s Harold Sakata as Oddjob, the first -and perhaps the best!- of the very fearsome henchmen Bond faces during his decades of adventures.

So while as an action film Goldfinger may not thrill quite as it did when first released and if you can forgive one sequence many modern eyes view as “rapey”, recommending Goldfinger is a no-brainer.

Especially if you can see it in a theater!