The literary Bond: Goldfinger

Goldfinger. It’s the film that most people think of when they think of Bond, and introduced many of the film series’s main tropes: The gadget-laden car, the main opening teaser with usually not as much involvement to the story (Although this was present in From Russia With Love, it didn’t ‘really’ involve Bond at all, but a double dressed as him as a training exercise for Red Grant), the big song (Dr.No opened with the Bond theme, From Russia With Love was only instrumental in it’s opening credits) and Goldfinger and his over-the-top henchman Oddjob have been the prototype Bond villains for the most part. But like most Bonds of the Connery/Moore era, it all started with a novel-one that in some ways, is far darker than it’s movie adaptation, which some people credit for the gradual ‘lightening’ of the series,  and it’s straying from it’s novel roots.

The film of course begins with the classic scene where Bond-effortlessly switching from a wet suit to a white Dinner jacket-destroys a heroin factory. He returns to his hotel room and is briefly assaulted, only to get the upper hand on the villain by electrocuting him via a fan and a bathtub-uttering the “shocking” pun as the opening credits song begins.

This is sort of how the novel. However, instead of relaxing at a Miami resort, Bond’s recuperating from the assault via drinking at a Miami airport, and is recognized from a friend from the Casino Royale mission, instead of given orders through M via his CIA friend Felix Leiter. In both versions, Bond is sent to check out if Auric Goldfinger has been cheating at cards, and in both cases finds out it’s with the help of a woman,  Jill Masterson, who Bond is able to sway over to his side, costing Goldfinger his advantage and money.

In the movie version, Goldfinger’s revenge against Bond and Jill is more immediate, as he dispatches Oddjob to knock Bond out and cover Jill in gold paint, suffocating her.

In the novel, a similar thing happens, but it happens after she leaves Bond and Bond is not present at the death.

Like in the film, the events with Bond trying to uncover how Goldfinger smuggles gold remain largely the same, except there’s an extra scene where Bond investigates Goldfinger’s mansion in England.

Also Bond tracks Goldfinger and Oddjob to Switzerland, where unfortunately his plans get kind of frustrated by Jill’s vengeful sister, Tilly. Plus there’s no real car chase in the novel either, especially not one with oil slicks, smoke, gun headlights and ejector seats!

It’s worth noting that Tilly survives much longer in the novel, whereas in the film she is quickly killed by  Oddjob after she and Bond are discovered.

Bond is then interrogated and nearly killed until Goldfinger decides to let him live. The movie, in a classic scene uses a laser (which is utilized later on in Goldfinger’s operation). The novel uses a buzz saw.

Like in the novel, Bond is then moved to Kentucky as a “guest” of Goldfinger, although in the movie he is treated more like a prisoner, only escaping once and being let out so Goldfinger can gloat about his plan. Goldfinger’s plan to poison the surrounding guards of Fort Knox is also somewhat different; in the novel, it is introduced through the water supply instead of airborne. Also, Goldfinger’s plan in the novel actually does involve stealing the gold straight from Fort Knox, whereas in the movie he plans to simply irriadiate the gold by blowing up an atomic bomb inside the Fort, making it worthless for decades(and hence his own private gold stock going way up).

Although Goldfinger’s plans are foiled eventually, the villain escapes and has a final confrontation with Bond on a plane. However, in the novel, both Goldfinger and Oddjob are on the plane (in the film Bond is able to kill Oddjob by electrocuting him with a cable, metal bars and Oddjob’s own still-rimed hat all forming a circle.) Oddjob has Goldfinger’s fate in the movie, being sucked out of the plane, while Bond strangles Goldfinger and disarms him before ditching the plane.

Next: For Your Eyes Only,  a collection of Bond short stories which not only inspired the movie, but also several other Bond movies as well, both in title and story. And then there’s Thunderball, one of the more controversial Bond novels and films which set off a huge rights battle that lasted for decades, and costs the Bond novel series the use of SPECTRE and Blofeld, and had two movie adaptations, both with Connery!.


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