The James Bond franchise is celebrating its 50th birthday this year and with the release of Skyfall I wanted to take a look back at the 22 (23 if you count the rogue Never Say Never Again, 24 if you count the 1967 spoof of Casino Royale) films that have come before it. So sit back, grab your shaken-not-stirred martini and follow me on a trip down Bond memory lane.
Synopsis: Investigating a gold magnate’s smuggling, James Bond uncovers a plot to contaminate the Fort Knox gold reserve.
Stars: Sean Connery, Gert Fröbe, Honor Blackman, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell
Director: Guy Hamilton
Running Length: 110 minutes
TMMM Score: (8.5/10)
Review: Arriving just eight months after From Russia with Love, Goldfinger was the film that would go on to become synonymous with the Bond brand, breaking box office records and firmly enshrining it’s star as the one and only Bond.
Goldfinger gleefully introduces us to so many of the Bond calling cards that would make 007 a household name over the last five decades. We have creative gadgets supplied to Bond by Q, suggestively named Bond Girls such as Pussy Galore (a lovely vixen-ish Blackman), and devious masterminds with plans of world domination. Auric Goldfinger (Fröbe) is a classic Bond villain who supplies the series with the first of many far-out schemes that could only sound plausible in the context of the series.
Under the guidance of new director Hamilton, Connery flexes his Bond muscles and looks to be having a ball with the one-liners and precarious situations he gets put into over the course of the film. Though the most famous person in the movie may be the gold painted body of a woman (Shirley Eaton) unlucky enough to fall for Bond, Harold Sakata as Goldfinger’s henchman Oddjob certainly gives her a run for her 24 karat money in a memorable turn.
Robert Brownjohn devises another clever title sequence set to possibly the most famous Bond tune to date. Sung by Brit belter Shirely Bassey, the title track creates an unforgettable mood with its opening fanfare accompanied by John Barry’s classic orchestrations.
Though it’s big on ideas, the film can be occasionally short on the follow-through. Several characters are introduced that seem to disappear – including one that inexplicably dies without much explanation. There seems to be a lot of moving pieces to the picture and that it’s encapsulated in a film running under two hours is pretty amazing. There’s a breezy zip to this picture that wasn’t present before – it’s a cinematic touch that would get further developed in future Bond entries.
It’s a no-brainer as to why this has become one of the touchstones of the spy genre – it’s simply everything a Bond movie should be – big, bold, Bassey…um…brassy.