Goldfinger stars Sean Connery, Honor Blackman, and Gert Frobe and was directed by Guy Hamilton. Based on Ian Fleming’s 1959 novel of the same name, the film follows MI6 agent James Bond, once again played by Sean Connery, as he travels to the U.S. in order to thwart the heist scheme of the diabolical, gold-obsessed Auric Goldfinger.
This third James Bond film holds a special place in my movie-watching heart. It was my introduction to Bond when I was a kid. I’m not sure if I ever saw the film in its entirety back then, but I definitely saw pieces of it which stuck with me until I finally got into the franchise during the Craig-era. So, I have those vague childhood memories of watching the film, but there’s something that provides an even stronger connection for me: the theme song. Growing up, I was always a little strange with my musical preferences.
When all of my friends were listening to Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys, and NSYNC, I was listening to The Turtles, The Association, and The Monkees. I was super into 60s music as a kid (and honestly still am to this day). But back then, it was pretty much all I listened to. My dad had gotten me this big 60s compilation CD set from Time Life and I played those CDs non-stop. And the 1965 disc, oddly enough, had Shirley Bassey’s Goldfinger on it. At the time, I had no idea it was a Bond song cause I didn’t even know Bond theme songs were a thing.
But, I always got a kick out of listening to it and trying to imitate it. I always loved Bassey’s unique annunciation and the way she said words like mister and finger. So, I’ll admit that I’m a bit biased towards this film cause of that theme song. Silly, but undeniably true. Every time I watch this movie and hear it in the opening titles, I just get this stupid smile on my face and can’t help but sing along. And every hint of the tune that would rise up in the score throughout the film just refreshed that enjoyment.
I’ve been humming the damn thing for days now. Okay, so you’re probably sick of me gushing about the theme song, so let’s talk about the rest of the movie. Of all the early Bond films, this one has got one of my favorite plots. It takes a step back from the icy espionage of its predecessor and brings back some of the goofiness that was evident in Dr. No, but somehow feels more grounded and aware of its intentions. it still has some silliness and an outrageous villain plot, but it all adds to the exciting fun of the story, rather than falling victim to eyerolling dullness. And no silly Bond film would be complete without a whole host of spy gadgets from Q.
These gadgets play a much larger role here than in either of the previous films and we even see the introduction of Bond’s iconic Aston Martin DB5, complete with a radar-powered GPS system and an ejector seat. The other strength of this film lies with its characters. Bond is the most Bond-like yet. He doesn’t do quite as many espionage things as in films past, but he’s absolutely classic Bond here.
The villains are also among my favorites in the franchise. Goldfinger’s grand scheme is certainly a little silly and he’s a larger-than-life character, but there’s still this level of realism to him. He isn’t making some Earth-destroying doomsday device, he’s just really greedy and obsessed with gold. And then you’ve got his delightfully ridiculous sidekick, Oddjob.
He’s seriously one of my favorite characters in the whole franchise. As with From Russia With Love, we’ve got a femme fatale Bond girl whose motives are questionable and filled with duality. And although Pussy Galore may be one of the more outrageously named females in the series, she isn’t written into the story simply to be bedded by Bond. She has a major role in the plot and is actually one of the more progressive and independent female characters in the franchiseÖ at least until the modern era and Judy Dench’s tenure as M. As much as I enjoy the movie, Goldfinger certainly isn’t without its faults.
Given all the build up and plotting, the ending has always felt a tad rushed and anticlimactic to me. I think it’s largely due to the editing style used during that sequence, but it still never quite lives up to the rest of the movie. Also, some of the visual effects throughout the film are a bit silly or downright questionable like the inexplicable and distractingly noticeable use of rear-projection in all of the exterior shots of the hotel near the beginning. But given how enjoyable the movie is, most of these faults are easily overlooked or forgiven.
Nothing that a seagull diving hat can’t take care of! From Russia With Love may be the better film technically-speaking and certainly the better straight-up spy movie, but I still prefer Goldfinger. It balances the espionage aspects of the franchise with some of the silly campiness without going overboard and manages to convey an interesting story at the same time. Plus it has the superior theme song. Thank you, Shirley Bassey. Alright let’s talk about the pros and cons. My first pro shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone at this point: the theme song.
Shirley Bassey’s Goldfinger is easily my favorite Bond theme song. I’ve loved it since I was a little kid, long before I ever knew it was a Bond theme or that the Bond movies had themes in the first place. Kinda silly now cause it’s so dramatically orchestrated and different from any other song at the time, so I guess I should’ve known something was up with it. But hearing it in the main titles and throughout the movie as part of the score is definitely my favorite thing about the film. Pro number two is the plot. As silly as some of its individual components are, this is one of the strongest Bond storylines.
It’s not as serious and grounded as From Russia With Love, but it doesn’t get as ridiculous as most of the other early and mid Bond films either. It’s right in the middle, balancing the frequently tongue-in-cheek fun with an interesting and exciting story. The stakes are high, but not in the over-the-top world domination kind of way and the way everything comes together is really iconic for the franchise.
The third pro has gotta be the characters. Connery gives arguably his peak performance as Bond and we’re treated to an assortment of other solid characters. The villains are among the best in the franchise. Goldfinger and Oddjob have this fun campiness to them, but still feel like a real threat, rather than a joke. And Pussy Galore is one of the better Bond girls in the franchise, independently and meaningfully contributing to the plot. On the con side, I’ve got a few nitpicks, but the only real issue I have is the rushed ending. Everything builds up to this big finale, but it ends up feeling a bit squandered.
It almost feels like they had to throw things together at the last minute, so it seems a bit out of sync with the rest of the movie and a little anticlimactic. Not bad and not nearly as dull as Dr. No’s ending, but just not as good as it could’ve been. I’m gonna give Goldfinger 4 out of 5 paws. This served as my introduction to the franchise and is still one of my favorite Bond films. It does an excellent job of balancing all of the expected qualities of a Bond film without ever feeling too over-the-top or ridiculous. I would recommend Goldfinger to anybody who’s a fan of spy movies or James Bond.
This has all the hallmarks of a classic Bond film and I would say it’s the quintessential movie in the franchise. For anybody looking to get into Bond, this is the perfect place to start and I’d definitely recommend it as such. If you liked Goldfinger, I would recommend the very first Bond film, Dr. No. Although it doesn’t have quite as solid of a plot, it provides our introduction not only to Bond as a character, but also to some of the campiness and evil villainy that would later make an appearance here. If you want to see some fun homages to the film, I would recommend Toy Story 2. It takes quite a few spy-themes cues from Goldfinger, including a great scene involving Mr. Potato Head doing his best Oddjob impression. And if you want something even more goofy, you should check out Austin Powers in Goldmember.
It’s the third film in the spoofy spy comedy series and even though it’s the weakest of the bunch, it humorously parodies many elements of this movie. Alright, a couple questions for you guys. Number one: Have you seen Goldfinger? If so, what’d you think of it? And number two: Which Bond film do you think is the most iconic? Be sure to leave your answers in the comments below so we can get a discussion going.