No James Bond film better epitomises the mass appeal of Britain’s coolest spy than the third instalment in the franchise, Goldfinger. A huge critical and commercial juggernaut, Goldfinger would create the template from which most future films would draw their inspiration and it marked the characters transition from simple thriller to iconic blockbuster draw. Based on a novel by Ian Fleming, Goldfinger introduces the audience to the opening sequence that bears no relation to the main plot, has Q grumpily go through the latest gadgets with impatience and contains some of the most memorable and iconic scenes and dialogue of any Bond film since.
International MI6 agent James Bond (Sean Connery) is tasked with spying on gold magnate Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) to try and get to the bottom of gold smuggling allegations. As bond gets close to his target, he uncovers a plot to irradiate all the gold inFortKnox, which will give Goldfinger a monopoly of the rest of the World’s gold reserve. With the help of Goldfinger’s pilot Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman), Bond must escape the clutches of the deadly gold-obsessed millionaire and his dangerous bowler hat-slinging henchman, Oddjob (Harold Sakata).
From the moment Connery emerges from the water with a seagull on his head and strips down to the most suave-looking tuxedo in film history, it’s clear that Goldfinger, the most recognisable Bond film of them all, masterfully treads the line between sophistication and ridicule. It is both absurd and in certain cases callous and mean, noticeably the now iconic scene of Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton) dead, covered head-to-toe in gold paint. This scene in which she is apparently killed by epidermal suffocation perfectly highlights Goldfinger‘s swing from preposterous to chilling and director Guy Hamilton’s ability to hold this two conflicting themes together helps to make this the quintessential Bond film.
For the first time in the series, Bond is not a superman, and the villains on display genuinely create threat for the superspy. Connery ups his game, delivering his best performance as James Bond and he needed to with Gert Frobe chewing the scenery as nefarious Auric Goldfinger and Honor Blackman injecting her Bond girl with real sass and character. With another actor in the role, Bond could easily have been upstaged, but Connery holds everything together, delivering quippy one-liners throughout and proving more than a match for anyone else in the film.
Goldfinger‘s plot skips along, never stopping to dwell on the sublimely outrageous plot machinations, instead concentrating on delivering the most action-packed, over-the-top, parody-friendly Bond film of them all. Everything that audiences now associate with Bond can be traced to Goldfinger and it still stands as one of, if not the best Bond film of them all.