Monday, March 09, 2015

Goldfinger (1964) | Story


Ian Fleming's Goldfinger

As far as I can tell, Saltzman and Broccoli picked Goldfinger for purely mercenary reasons. The first two Bond films did extremely well in England, but United Artists still wasn't committing to heavy promotion in the US. The producers could tell from sales of Fleming's novels that Bond was catching on in the States though, so they chose Goldfinger for their third film because of the Fort Knox angle. They figured that US audiences would want to see that and they were exactly right. UA realized that too and gave the film some major marketing. The movie was a huge hit and turned Bond into a phenomenon.

Plot Summary

Bond investigates an eccentric gold smuggler and uncovers a larger, more deadly scheme involving Fort Knox.

How Is the Book Different?

Hardly at all. They're even alike in the way they shift the tone of their individual series, though the specific ways they do that are different. The novel Goldfinger introduces humor in a new way to the books, while the movie Goldfinger takes the films to a whole new level in terms of spectacle.

Both versions open with Bond in Miami after an assignment in Mexico, but in the novel Bond is introduced to Auric Goldfinger by a character he met in Casino Royale. The movie can't reference that, so Bond's steered towards his nemesis by Felix Leiter. In the novel, Bond and Goldfinger's first meeting is complete coincidence, so the movie actually improves on that by making it all part of the plan.

The movie also introduces an ulterior motive for the Fort Knox job that makes a lot more sense. And the final fates of Goldfinger and Oddjob are tweaked a bit. In addition, the movie lets us see the gold-covered Jill (she's only described by her sister in the book) and of course Tilly and Pussy's sexual orientations are either ignored or only implied.

Other changes are superficial. The book's Aston Martin DB III becomes a DB V, for example, and it's more tricked out. Literary Goldfinger is also more blustery in his arrogance than the self-assured movie version.

Moment That's Most Like Fleming

This is kind of cheating, because it's a moment that's present in the novel, but conveyed in a different way. It's when Bond's tailing Goldfinger and Tilly Masterson speeds by him. He steps on the gas to give chase, then quickly eases off. "Discipline, 007," he says. "Discipline."

In the novel, he has an internal struggle over chasing her, but the movie's "discipline" line is excellent shorthand for that. It's also something I repeat to myself a lot when I want to do something I probably shouldn't.

Moment That's Least Like Fleming

The literary Bond certainly cares about food and drink, but he isn't the obnoxious know-it-all that the film version becomes, starting with Goldfinger. He snidely quotes to Jill the correct temperature for serving Dom Perignon '53 and later shows up M by criticizing the indifferent blend and overdose of bon-bois in the brandy they're drinking. Even forgetting the showing off, the literary Bond never would have disrespected M that way.

Cold Open

Points for tying it in with the novel by showing us some of Bond's Mexico mission. And points for making it exciting and introducing the craziness of the gadgets that the films are going to become known for. It's also got one of Bond's better quips ("Shocking!"), though not my favorite. It's got a cool setting and a pretty good fight, too. Much better than the quiet, subdued opening of From Russia With Love.

1. Goldfinger
2. From Russia With Love
3. TBD
4. TBD
5. TBD
6. TBD
7. TBD
8. TBD
9. TBD
10. TBD

Movie Series Continuity

When Bond and Felix meet, Bond refers to his friend's getting in trouble in Jamaica. That's an inaccurate reference to Dr. No, since Bond got in all the trouble and Felix was only there to observe and bail Bond out. The script is just trying to let us know that Cec Linder's playing the same character that Jack Lord was, but it's sloppy.

M threatens to take Bond off the mission at one point, suggesting that "008 can replace you." I think that's the first mention of another Double-O agent in the series. He comes up again when Goldfinger is about to cut Bond in half with a laser. Bond says that if he's killed, 008 will just step in. This is probably a fool's game, but I'm going to try to keep track of the other Double-Os in the movies. There are only a couple of others in the books, so I'm curious to see how expansive that department is in the films.

The trick of throwing Bond's hat onto the hatrack is repeated, but this time it's Moneypenny who does it. We don't see Bond enter the office in Goldfinger, so his hat is there when he finishes talking to M. He picks it up and flirts with Moneypenny some and at one point she takes it from him and tosses it back on the rack to indicate that he should stay.

When Bond visits Q-Branch he asks Q where his Bentley is, referring to the car we saw when he was on his date with Sylvia Trench in From Russia With Love. Q's response is that it's "seen its day," which raises a question about who owns it. In the books, the Bentley is totally Bond's baby. He only requisitions the Aston Martin as part of his cover. But in the film, it sounds like both cars belong to the government and can be switched out as easily as Bond's gun was in Dr. No.

Speaking of Sylvia Trench, she's not back. Terence Young had a pay dispute with Saltzman and Broccoli, so he decided not to come back to direct the third film. The producers brought in Guy Hamilton, who had no attachment with Sylvia or the actor who played her. There's no mention of why she's not around, nor - as much as I liked that character in From Russia With Love - should there be. It wasn't that kind of relationship.

Also not back is SPECTRE. Goldfinger has SMERSH connections in the novel, but the film version is completely autonomous. He may be working with the Chinese government, but he's not working for them.

The last bit of continuity I want to mention is that Bond orders a "shaken, not stirred" martini when he wakes up on Goldfinger's plane. That's the first time he actually uses that line in the series. He received a couple of them in Dr. No, but those were both brought to him already made without our hearing him order them. The people bringing him the drinks repeated the instruction, though.

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