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Goldfinger (1964)



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This is one of the most highly regarded Bond films, despite an interesting but flawed plot. Even I regarded it as my personal favorite until I watched all the Bond films in succession and thoroughly analyzed each. This was the trend-setter of the Bond films, the first to capture perfectly that certain Bondian essence that makes the series so appealing. Goldfinger himself, portrayed by Gert Frobe (who didn't speak a word of English upon his arrival to the set -- his voice was dubbed in the final print), is arguably the most memorable, sophisticated villain in the series (and my personal favorite); likewise is Oddjob one of the most menacing, dangerous, "coolest" sidekicks (with the most concise lines of dialogue). Additionally, Goldfinger provided one of the starkest, most memorable images the series has to offer, namely Shirley Eaton as Jill Masterson painted gold from head to toe. Eaton had mere minutes of screen time, yet ranks toward the top of the list of best Bond girls. The story stays relatively close to the novel, leaving out a lot of details as movies will, but actually improves upon Goldfinger's master plan. All in all, it is one of the most famous, most treasured Bond films that was released at the height of the Bond furor. So why not a higher rating? Unfortunately, Goldfinger is tarnished by an awkward plot, particularly toward the end. A lot of character motivations are sketchy at best, but, given the benefit of the doubt, can all be explained. The worst part is that Bond doesn't really do a whole lot. Sure, he cleverly talks his way out of being sliced in half by a laser in yet another of the most famous scenes from the series, but what else does he do? He gets snuck up on from behind and knocked out several times, makes at least three failed attempts to escape from Goldfinger's clutches, plants a bug that later gets destroyed, fails to protect two women from being murdered, and can't defuse a bomb. Ok, he uses his wits to dispose of Oddjob and subverts Pussy Galore, but on the whole, Bond was not in control of things. It's not that I want Bond to be an omnipotent superhero -- that causes worse problems, like the complete abolishment of any sort of suspense -- but Bond fails just a few too many times in this outing for me to be cheering him on. That aside, Goldfinger is still worthy of its following and remains one of the more solid entries in the series.

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