What strikes me most is just how many of the classic Bond moments, scenes and lines of dialogue are in this one film. The pre-titles sequence, with Bond wearing a tux under his wetsuit. Shirley Eaton covered in gold paint. Q’s laboratory and gadget show-and-tell. The Aston Martin DB5 with its ejector seat (“You’re joking?!”) and revolving number plates. Bond cheating at golf. Oddjob flinging his hat at a statue. Bond strapped to a table with a laser heading towards his crotch (“Do you expect me to talk?”). Fort Knox. The nuclear bomb and its counter stopping at ‘007’. Pussy Galore and her Flying Circus of beautiful pilots. Goldfinger getting sucked out of an aeroplane window (which is scientific bullshit, right?). It’s the movie that weekend afternoons on ITV were invented for. This one’s so much fun it practically turns and winks at us. It moves at a real lick, is never boring, and is tremendously entertaining. Eight bars of gold bullion out of 10.
Bond: He’s just freewheeling through the role now, is Connery. Seemingly effortless.
Villains: Auric Goldfinger is a cartoon villain, big and blustery. And his voice has been replaced by another actor’s (an oddly common occurrence in early Bonds), which doesn’t help with the suspension of disbelief. Chief henchman Oddjob, however, is a wonderfully eccentric creation.
Girls: Wow. The film’s full of them. There’s Bonita, the woman in whose eyes Bond sees the reflection of an approaching baddy (so uses her as a shield!). There’s Goldfinger’s cute handmaiden Mei-Lei. There’s Jill Masterson, of course, covered in paint; and her sister, Tilly, who’s a bit of an irrelevance (both in terms of her character and her role in the story). And, obviously, there’s Pussy Galore – easily, easily, the best female role in a Bond film so far. Honor Blackman has that killer combination of being able to act and being incredibly sexy, and she gives Pussy real depth. This is a woman with an agenda, with feelings, with reactions and opinions. And the fact Blackman was nearly 40 only adds to the confident, powerful performance: it’s the first time Bond has met an equal, rather than a simpering girl following his around. (I must also quickly mention Dink, who I’m incredibly fond of. She’s in the film for an entire 20 seconds, giving Bond a massage and then getting patronisingly slapped on the arse. But Margaret Nolan is daydream-inducingly attractive. A few years later, she was by some distance the best thing about Carry On Girls.)
Regulars: Felix Leiter’s been recast, and Cec Linder is much better than Jack Lord was in Dr. No. You buy his and Bond’s friendship easily. M and Moneypenny show up again, while we get the first proper appearance of Q (as he’s now called). It’s here that Q’s character is set – his weary impatience with Bond’s recklessness is a joy.
Action: There’s a good car chase filmed in and around Pinewood Studios, full of cute gags. The Fort Knox section features a big battle outside and Bond’s inventive fight with Oddjob inside.
Comedy: There’s a clear step up in humour here, reportedly at the urging of new director Guy Hamilton. “Shocking,” Bond deadpans after a henchman is electrocuted. His response to Pussy Galore introducing herself (“I must be dreaming…”) is fantastic. And meeting with a Bank of England bigwig, Bond out-snobs M with his knowledge of the vintage and quality of the brandy.
Music: Obviously, the theme song is an all-time great. The score is cracking too, especially when bold, brassy and bombastic. At one point, Bond says, “My dear girl, there are some things that just aren’t done, such as drinking Dom Perignon ’53 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s just as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs.”