Goldfinger (1964)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Goldfinger</strong> (1964)

(Second viewing, On Blu Ray, September 2018) The James Bond series really caught fire on its third outing, with Goldfinger hitting upon the mixture of overblown villainy, hot dames and cool secret agent. From the table-cutting laser to the modified Aston Martin, from the cheekily named Pussy Galore to the ludicrously exotic (and fictional) way of being killed with gold paint, from the stocky henchman to the final 007 timer count, you can finally feel the series tweak the formula that it would follow from then on. It helps that the film is above average in several aspects: Gert Fröbe makes for an oddly compelling villain, the evil plot is actually cleverer than usual, and if you pay attention, there is an interesting subversion of Bond’s role in having him being a bystander for much of the film. The already-established fundamentals of the series are there in good form: the globetrotting romp through a handful of countries, Q’s gadgets, and, of course, Sean Connery’s imitable yet unsurpassed charisma. In most technical aspects, Goldfinger has aged remarkably well: the gadgets feel contemporary, the period detail is fascinating (ah, that look at a mid-sixties American commercial strip!), the editing is more modern than contemporary standards, and the pacing holds up thanks to Bond’s early introduction compared to previous instalments. Alas, it’s not all great: the film’s sexism is often unbearable, whether you’re talking about the “man talk” slappy dismissal of a minor female character, or the plot hinging on a reluctant seduction with echoes of “Bond can turn any woman straight.” There are other annoyances (hey, Bond doesn’t like the Beatles!), but they don’t feel quite as unforgivable as the film’s clearly retrograde ideas about women. Oh well; at least we’ve got “No, Mister Bond, I expect you to DIE!” to fall back on.

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