Monday, 5 August 2013


1964 - Dir: Guy Hamilton

Shown at The FeckenOdeon on 31st August, 2013

James Bond is the most durable of the twentieth century's movie heroes, and the one most likely to last well into the twenty second century - although Sherlock Holmes of course is also immortal, and Tarzan is probably good for a retread. One reason for Bond's longevity among series heroes is quality control - Bond is consistently Bond: He remains recognizably the same man he was in 1962, when "Dr. No" first brought Ian Fleming's spy to the screen. Even the crypto-Bonds, like the oddball David Niven hero of the maverick "Casino Royale" (1967), or the spoof Bonds, like Our Man Flint and Matt Helm, follow the general outlines of the Fleming legend. He is an archetype so persuasive that to change him would be sacrilegious. Of all the earlier Bonds, "Goldfinger" is undoubtedly the best - if it is not a great film, it is a great entertainment, and contains all the elements of the Bond formula that would work again and again. It's also interesting as the link between the more modest first two Bonds and the later big-budget extravaganzas; after this one, producers Albert "Cubby" Broccoli and Harry Saltzman could be certain that 007 was good for the long run.
Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming, visited Pinewood during shooting but died before the movie's release. No doubt he would have approved of producer Albert R. Broccoli's perfection of the 007 myth. Goldfinger is more than just a spy thriller; it establishes the Bond film as a genre all of its own. Forty-nine years after its original release it's obviously dated: Bond's gripe about needing earmuffs to listen to The Beatles seems quaint and the rear-projected European locations are jarring (the studio still hadn’t budgeted for expensive overseas locations - and you have to bear in mind that until 1969 we Brits were not allowed to spend more than £50 per trip outside the country). Yet what's incredible is how authoritative Connery still seems. At the top of his game, he was never so comfortable in the role, a perfect synthesis of cynicism and sophistication.  Moore, Lazenby, Dalton and Brosnan never came close to that - though Daniel Craig has a good crack at it in  “Skyfall”. (As a Goldfinger ticket holder you can buy a ticket for tonight’s showing of Skyfall for just £3!)
● In the Ian Fleming novel, Pussy Galore is a lesbian, which is why she gives Bond the cold shoulder to start with. Her team are known as the Cement Mixers. Honor Blackman was 37 when the film was made - making her the oldest Bond “girl” in the series. She’s now 82 and still working.
● The producers wanted Orson Welles to play Auric Goldfinger, but Welles was too expensive. Then Gert Fröbe began arguing over his salary (he wanted 10% from the movie's earnings) prompting the producers to wonder whether Welles would have been cheaper after all.... especially as Fröbe’s English turned out to be so poor that he had to be dubbed by an English actor.
● Author Ian Fleming partially based the title character on the controversial Modernist architect Erno Goldfinger. The architect threatened to sue Fleming's publisher who contacted the author to inquire whether he might consider renaming the character, and the novel. Fleming replied that he'd be delighted to comply... if he could change it to "Goldprick."

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