1964’s “Goldfinger” pretty much cemented Bond’s place as a pop culture icon. Although “Dr.No” and “From Russia with Love” introduced the character and many of the series tropes-The name, Vodka martini, the supporting cast (more prominent than in the novels) SPECTRE etc. Goldfinger really uped the ante with Bond’s quips, gadgets, and escapism.
We start with Bond infiltrating a Heroin facility by water-disguised as a swimming seagull. This is the first Bond movie to feature Bond actually in the opening action scene, whereas “Dr.No” didn’t have one and “From Russia With Love” had an expendable SPECTRE imposter used as a live target for Grant.
Quickly subduing the guard, Bond then gets some plastic explosive ready to take down the facility. Bond in a kind of all-black wetsuit/stealth suit is something we’ll see in many of the sequels.
But what’s even more cool? Bond has a complete tux-with red flower(!)-ready just underneath the wetsuit, in one of the film’s best moments (and one that would be referenced a few times later on)
…and he heads to a nearby bar/hotel, where he simply takes a drag of his cigarette as the factory nearby explodes, destroying “heroin-flavored bananas that finance revolutions” (sort of a goofy line, there). Still, I’ll let it pass, giving the rest of the moment.
Warned by a fellow agent to watch his back, Bond heads to his hotel room for a rendezvous with the bellydancer, but she’s setting him up for a fall-and Bond is able to literally watch his back by noticing the reflection of a guy trying to knock him out.
Using the treacherous belly dancer as a human shield, Bond is able to stop him, and a brief fight ensues, with Bond knocking the assailant into the bathtube-although close to Bond’s gun and holster. Quickly improvising, Bond throws the fan into the bathtub, electrocuting the villain. Ouch.
Here we get one of Bond’s quips-“Shocking…positively shocking…” as he leaves the hotel room with the dead man, and the disleveled girl. His shutting the door aligns perfectly with the opening notes of Shirley Bassey’s “Goldfinger”-the archetypal Bond opening credits. While Dr.No introduced the style, and From Russia With Love introduced the women, Goldfinger is really the first James Bond film to have the title song in the opening credits.
It’s a pretty impressive sequence, which features little previews of scenes from the movie projected on various “golden girls”. For instance, this shot of Oddjob lined up….
and rotating license plate mouth girl:
and a few other clever shots. The song’s pretty good too of course, with Shirley being invited back to do the themes for both “Diamonds Are Forever” and “Moonraker”. Goldfinger’s influence as a song can also be heard in future Bond songs, notably “Man with the Golden Gun” “Licence to Kill” (Which starts with practically the same notes) “Goldeneye” and most recently “Skyfall”.
We then go to Miami Beach, where Bond is enjoying his friend “Dink” (Who’s portrayed as a bit of an airhead.) She might look familiar, as you’ve just seen her many times in the title sequence-she was the Golden girl model!
Bond is reunited here with Felix Leiter, who looks far more older here (Which is funny because Cec Linder is actually a year younger than Jack Lord was!) and with a bit of a different persona and voice than Lord’s more tough-guy detective.
Bond’s assignment is to keep an eye on Auric Goldfinger, who Bond quickly notices is cheating at cards via his ‘hearing aid’. He’s introduced via a short version of his theme, as well as his his pompous personality and willingness to win by cheating. Bond quickly figures out the source of the cheating…
A woman in Goldfinger’s suite who is watching his opponent’s cards via telescope.
Bond quickly interrupts this, to the sound of his catchphrase and his theme kicking into gear. Disconnecting the radio, he quickly charms the woman-Jill Masterson-and takes control of the headset, making Goldfinger lose, amusing Jill who is just getting paid for being seen with Goldfinger and helping him cheat.
Goldfinger of course isn’t too happy that his luck has changed as Bond put it, and snaps his pencil as he’s forced to let the other guy win….and he’s about to declare war on 007. But for Bond, to the victor goes the spoils-in this case, a night with Jill, and for the other card player, “Gin!”
Next: “For a Golden girl, knows when he’s kissed her….it’s the kiss of death, from Mr. Goldfinger….”