Goldfinger (Ultimate Edition) Review
Following the pre-credits destruction of the base of a known drug-lord and the electrocuting of a hitman in the bathtub in his room - "Shocking!" - Bond (Sean Connery) is sunning himself by a hotel swimming pool in Miami when Felix Leiter (Cec Linder) drops by with a message from M (Bernard Lee). Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe) is apparently staying at the same hotel and MI6 demand that Bond record his movements. Granted, MI6 had more in mind than foiling Goldfinger's cheating at cards but via the seduction of his secretary, Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton), Bond puts paid to Goldfinger's winning. But, as Bond finds out, Goldfinger does not appreciate losing and takes his revenge on Bond by knocking him out cold whilst pouring champagne. Coming around, Bond finds out just how far Goldfinger will go when he discovers Masterson on his hotel bedroom, painted gold and dead from suffocation.
Recalled to London for a meeting with M and the Governor of the Bank of England, Bond is assigned to meet with Goldfinger and to determine the shipping routes that he is using to smuggle his gold between countries. Using a bar of Nazi gold as bait, Bond meets Goldfinger for a round of golf and, once again, puts an end to his cheating. Again, though, Goldfinger warns Bond off, leaving him with the memory of his driver, Oddjob (Harold Sakata), decapitating a statue with his steel-rimmed hat. Bond, though, is not to be discouraged, following Goldfinger's Rolls-Royce in his Aston Martin to Switzerland where a chance meeting with Tilly Masterson (Tania Mallet) brings Bond to a shooting at Goldfinger's foundry, a killing and Bond tied to a table while an industrial laser threatens to cut the secret agent in two. Hoping that a mention of Operation Grand Slam with save him, Bond asks, "Do you expect me to talk?", Goldfinger turns to tell him, "No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die!"
As much as I have given Dr No and From Russia With Love their due place in the series of Bond movies and praised them in spite of frequently being overlooked, it is probably fair to say that it was with Goldfinger that the franchise really took off. Taking the raw box office figures as some kind of lesson, From Russia With Love's $78.9m was a modest increase on Dr No's $59.5m but the $124.9m of Goldfinger is proof that Bond had clearly arrived. As, of course, were the spy movies that followed with such films as Danger! Death Ray!, A 077 Challenge To The Killers, LSD Inferno: Hell For A Few Dollars More, Our Man Flint and Spy In Your Eye, being a small selection from the sixty-two released in 1966, all of which were indebted to the fine balance between violence, sexual adventure and good humour that Goldfinger offered over its predecessors. That isn't to say that it's a better film - certainly, it's not any better than From Russia With Love - but it clearly offered audiences exactly what they wanted from Bond.
Watching Goldfinger now, it's easy to see why it was such a success. There is the obvious appeal of such gadgets as the homing devices and Goldfinger's gold revolver, the glamourous locations and the finale with an atomic bomb in Fort Knox. There's the nod and the wink of Pussy Galore, the silent menace of Oddjob and Auric Goldfinger matching Bond quip for quip. There's three beautiful cars - Bond's Aston Martin, Tilly Masterson's Ford Mustang and Goldfinger's Rolls-Royce - and four equally beautiful women, being Pussy Galore, Jill and Tilly Masterson and the tarantella dancer Bonita (Nadja Regin). Many more if you count Pussy Galore's squadron of pilots, all of whom, true to the fashions of the time, look to be packing missiles beneath their skintight flight suits. There are great deaths - the murder of Solo (Martin Benson) within Oddjob's Lincoln Continental is a particular highlight - but so too is the casual way in which Bond dispatches Capungo (Alf Joint) in his bathtub. There are more than a few laughs, lots of action and, as the counter on the atomic bomb reaches 007, an ending that's perfectly pitched at how the series would then develop.
So well-known is all of this that I would be surprised to learn that there's anyone who hasn't seen it at least once but, as is more likely, numerous times. And indeed, even if that were not the case, so much did Goldfinger provide the template for the modern Bond that one can trace the particular formula of the franchise back to this one film. Should you care to know the origin of Austin Powers' Alotta Fagina, you need look no further than Goldfinger's Pussy Galore. But more than any of the reasons given, Goldfinger works by being the first Bond where 007 directs the action in the film. Both Dr No and From Russia With Love portrayed Bond as a clear opposite to the villains and kept his distance accordingly but in Goldfinger, he used his charm and his knowledge of Goldfinger's business to insinuate himself within Operation Grand Slam. Bond may still be on the side of all that is right and just but you can't deny that he enjoys himself a great deal whilst as a guest of Goldfinger at the latter's Kentucky ranch.
The Bond of Crab Key may be less forgiving and the Bond of the Orient Express of sharper wits but it is the Bond of Goldfinger that we have the most fun with. And, of course, with a Corgi Aston Martin, Oddjob action puppets, Bond action figures, a Goldfinger board game and a Fort Knox playset in which to place them, there was a lot of fun to be had.
Goldfinger, now presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1, looks and sounds as good as both Dr No and From Russia With Love, with these three early films benefiting the most from Sony's restoration work. As seen in the screenshots below, the print is noticeably cleaner but colours are, on the whole, much better, if more muted, and detail has been slightly improved.
MGM Special Edition (Above) / Sony Ultimate Edition (Below)
MGM Special Edition (Above) / Sony Ultimate Edition (Below)
The Dolby Digital and DTS audio tracks are fine but not noticeably better than the mono track off the old Special Edition. There does appear to be a little less background noise but, other than that, there isn't a great deal of an improvement in this Ultimate Edition.
Once again, Sony shipped only the first disc out of the two-disc Goldfinger set so all that there is to review are the two Commentaries, one featuring director Guy Hamilton and the other various members of the cast and crew. Both commentaries are sustained by guest presenters with Guy Hamilton being fitted around Lee Pfeiffer, the author of The Incredible World of 007, and the cast and crew in between John Cork of the Iam Fleming Foundation. Rather than slowing the pace of the commentaries, Pfeiffer and Cork are welcome additions, keeping the two commentaries moving such that there are very few silences between contributions as well as placing each one in context. Again, where there is no scene-specific contribution, Pfeiffer and Cork offer their own analysis of the film but Hamilton shows himself to have an excellent memory of the shoot while John Barry and Ken Adam are, on the second track, excellent contributors in their particular field.
Otherwise, this Ultimate Edition offers, from the MGM Special Edition, The Making Of Goldfinger, The Goldfinger Phenomenon and various Trailers, TV Spots and the like. Extras new to this DVD include features with Sean Connery on the set and on the Aston Martin, Screet Tests, an Interactive Guide and an Open-Ended Interview with Honor Blackman.
Last updated: 18/06/2018 00:56:51