Goldfinger (1964)

The first half of Goldfinger, the third movie in the James Bond franchise, is great. In fact, the first five minutes is great, even if it does not seem to have much to do with the rest of the movie. But following that opening scene, Bond (Sean Connery) is assigned to investigate Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe). He is a jeweler who buys gold legally, and then ships it to Hong Kong where he sells it on the black market for three times the price he paid for it. This is the great crime that requires the attention of England’s best secret agent?

Later, Bond finds out about Operation Grand Slam, Goldfinger’s plan to nuke Fort Knox, destroying the gold, and causing his own horde of the metal to skyrocket in value. Quite by accident, then, Bond’s being assigned to investigate Goldfinger turns out to be appropriate, even if serendipitously so.

Q (Desmond Llewelyn) gives Bond the famous Aston Martin with the machine guns, ejector seat, and much more, but even so, he eventually is captured by Goldfinger. The laser that almost cuts Bond in half also cuts the movie in half, the first part making it half of the greatest Bond movie ever made. Then comes the second half of the movie, the point at which it starts being silly, when Bond wakes up on the plane and a woman introduces herself as Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman). In fact, this is the point at which the whole Bond franchise starts being silly, with subsequent Bond movies becoming bloated with girls, gadgets, and wisecracks, on the principle that if some is good, then more is better.

As far as this movie is concerned, one item of silliness is the way Goldfinger goes on a pointless killing spree. He assembles representatives of organized crime from all over the world, each with a million dollars, which we think he needs to finance Operation Grand Slam. But it turns out that the whole operation is already set up and ready to go, so he does not need their money. Nevertheless, he kills them all and steals their millions, because the fortune he is about to make in gold is just not enough for him. Never mind that he will soon be pursued by governments all over the world when he destroys Fort Knox with a nuclear device. Now he will have the Mafia and other crime organizations looking for him too. Considering that Goldfinger was already a rich man to begin with, we have to wonder what all this will accomplish, besides making him the most relentlessly hunted man in the world. Even if Operation Grand Slam were to succeed, he would never be able to enjoy his augmented wealth, nor even the life of luxury and freedom that he already had. All this can be safely ignored, of course, because we know that Bond is going to kill him anyway, which he does, sparing Goldfinger the fate of having to spend the rest of his life hiding in a hole in the ground.

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