Goldfinger is likely the most popular of the Bond films. In addition to the distinctively mixed drinks and Q berating Bond, there are a number of things viewers tend to remember about this film: the golden fate of Jill Masterson, the introduction of the Aston Martin, the movie’s theme song (I personally cannot speak the title, choosing instead to sing it). But one of the most memorable components of Goldfinger is Goldfinger himself. Bond’s chief antagonist is a charming, brilliant man, and he’s an impressive and fascinating figure to watch onscreen. One reason for this is an outstanding performance from Fröbe, a German actor who could not speak English and was consequently dubbed for the film. He plays Goldfinger with a style that can easily be equated to 007. But more than anything, the manner in which the villain transports gold and his plan that he ultimately reveals to Bond are ingenious, and even if he is a self-centered, egotistical, malicious person, it is difficult not to respect him for his methods.
Honor Blackman as the provocatively-named Pussy Galore gives a strong showing in Goldfinger. Before being cast in the film, Blackman had just ended her contract on the successful British series, The Avengers. Her co-star, Patrick Macnee, would star in another Bond film, A View to a Kill (1985), and her replacement, Diana Rigg, would catch Bond’s wandering eyes in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. To round out the Bond-Avengers connections, Joanna Lumley, who would be featured in The New Avengers with Macnee, had a small role in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Prior to Goldfinger, both Blackman and Shirley Eaton, who played Jill Masterson, had made appearances in another popular British TV show, The Saint, starring future 007, Roger Moore. Following the film’s 1964 release, Lois Maxwell, who played Moneypenny in numerous Bond films, and one-time Felix Leiter, Cec Linder, both starred in episodes of The Saint.
Toshiyuki “Harold” Sakata, of Japanese descent and born in Hawaii, was a professional wrestler, wrestling under the name Tosh Togo. Although he has no lines, his portrayal of Oddjob would make the character one of the best of the 007 series. The weaponized bowler hat was Fleming’s creation, but it is Sakata who flashes a wicked grin when Bond’s attempts to subdue him prove futile. Reportedly, Milton Reid, who’d previously had a small role as a guard in Dr. No, was up for the part of Oddjob and challenged Sakata to a wrestling match (to determine who would play the henchman) that never materialized. Reid would have a significant villainous role in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). Linder is a standout among the many actors who would play Felix Leiter, pleasant and a worthy counterpart to Bond.
Goldfinger was a huge international success, breaking box office records and earning back its three-million dollar budget in just two weeks. Just a little more than a month before the premiere of Goldfinger, Bond creator/novelist Ian Fleming died of a heart attack.
Goldfinger is one of my favorite Bond films and is typically the one that I will recommend to potential 007 fans. Connery is terrific, of course, and there are many significant aspects of the film: a great villain, plenty of action, and excellent music.
Bond Is Forever will return next month with The Living Daylights (1987).