Thought by many to be the quintessential Bond film, introducing many of the elements the franchise is now known for, Goldfinger does hold up as one of the more memorable entries in the canon, having unique characters, an abundance of gadgetry and an overall tone that perfectly blended action with humour.
Being the third title in the series, this entry was extremely successful in its time, quickly recouping its blockbuster budget—more money was spent making Goldfinger than the two earlier Bond installments combined—while similarly finding critical success. While most of this would be attributed to the film itself, which had Bond (Sean Connery) playing a more playful and flirtatious variation on the famed MI6 agent, a solid marketing campaign, featuring Shirley Eaton painted entirely in gold, also built interest in the spy caper.
In basic plot, Goldfinger didn't stray much from the formula, featuring Bond investigating and trailing gold smuggler, Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe), only to stumble on to a bigger plot to attack the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox. But the execution of the story is what proved magnetic.
Featuring a super-powered sidekick villain named Oddjob (Harold Sakata) with a knack for killing people with his hat and an ass-kicking Bond girl named Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman)—a name pushed through censors by transparent wining and dining—the characters in this third Bond entry hold a timeless place in our cultural lexicon. Similarly, the introduction of crazy gadgetry—chiefly the chair-popping, oil-spewing Aston Martin DB5—amplified the fantastical playful elements of the franchise that eventually went over-the-top when Roger Moore took over.
Though understandably dated now, being almost fifty years old and having visible effects limitations (mainly backdrops with different film grain), this early Connery Bond still holds up as a shining example of how the franchise came to be, standing up to time with cultural relevance and context alone.
Playing as part of the Designing 007 TIFF Bell Lightbox retrospective on James Bond, Goldfinger screens on Saturday, October 27th at 7:45pm, repeating later in December 2012. Please see the TIFF website for further details. (MGM)