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Goldfinger (1964)

Main image of Goldfinger (1964)
35mm, colour, 109 mins
Directed byGuy Hamilton
Production CompanyEon Productions
Produced byHarry Saltzman
 Albert R. Broccoli
Screenplay byRichard Maibaum
 Paul Dehn
Original novelIan Fleming
PhotographyTed Moore
MusicJohn Barry

Cast: Sean Connery (James Bond); Honor Blackman (Pussy Galore); Gert Frobe (Auric Goldfinger); Shirley Eaton (Jill Masterson); Tania Mallet (Tilly Masterson)

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James Bond goes on a mission to investigate of Operation Grand Slam, a cunning plot by bullion dealer Goldfinger to corner the world market in gold.

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Goldfinger has the reputation as the best of the Bond movies, and it is easy to see why. It combines scenes of riveting tension with superbly choreographed action set-pieces and adds a layer of sophisticated dry wit which the previous films lacked. It moves the series further into the realms of the overblown comic strip and, in this respect, was hugely influential in the development of the action genre, where 'bigger' rapidly became equated with better.

In his third Bond film, Sean Connery successfully defined a toned-down, more sympathetic version of the character. His treatment of women is less perfunctory and his violence is generally in self-defence. Connery is convincing in action but seems most comfortable with the snappy delivery of numerous one-liners. He receives impressive competition from Gert Frobe who, despite being dubbed to hide his poor English, plays Goldfinger with a fine combination of strutting vanity and thuggish menace. Honor Blackman's Pussy Galore is a thoroughly liberated woman who is more than a match for Bond, even if she is eventually, and disappointingly, removed from the action. The regular cast of MI6 staff are also defined here, with Bernard Lee's M, Lois Maxwell's Moneypenny and especially Desmond Llewelyn's Q delivering memorable cameos.

The action in Goldfinger is confidently handled through a combination of fast editing by Peter Hunt, committed stunt work from Bond veteran Bob Simmons and Guy Hamilton's willingness as director to combine comic strip antics with a certain realism. However, Hamilton also handles the quieter moments with style and charm, notably the golf game, one of the most enjoyable scenes in the series. The intelligent and often witty script by Richard Maibaum and Paul Dehn punctuates the car chases and fights with some highly quotable dialogue exchanges. Equally notable is Ken Adam's art direction , as luxuriantly baroque as John Barry's music score and Shirley Bassey's performance of the theme song.

Goldfinger is light and superficial but it is a confection produced with great skill and care, showcasing the talents of some of Britain's finest technicians. Most significantly, it strikes a balance between action, spectacle and humour which the Bond series never quite got right again.

Mike Sutton

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Video Clips
Monthly Film Bulletin review
Adam, Ken (1921-)
Blackman, Honor (1925-)
Broccoli, Albert R. (1909-1996)
Connery, Sean (1930-)
Hamilton, Guy (1922-)
Kwouk, Burt (1930- )
Lee, Bernard (1908-1981)
Llewelyn, Desmond (1914-1999)
James Bond
James Bond: Sean Connery