BOND From The Beginning - GOLDFINGER

Martin Rayburn beckons you to enter his web of sin...

Over fifty years after it's initial release, Goldfinger, the third James Bond movie, remains the quintessential 007 film for many fans. Back in 1964 such was the level of hysteria surrounding Bond upon Goldfinger's release that it broke the record for the fastest-grossing film in history, making back it's $3,000,000 production cost in a mere 2 weeks, and on only 67 screens!

This was the film that spawned the first massive 007 merchandising blitz, with everything from jigsaw puzzles, dolls, and lunchboxes, to shoes and cologne. Goldfinger also gave the franchise it's first worldwide number 1 hit song, sung by Shirley Bassey. Everyone was bonkers for Bond, with a resulting pandemonium that rivaled the adoration of the Beatles in it's intensity!

The plot pits the British secret agent against a megalomaniac whose master plan is to explode a 'dirty' nuclear device at Fort Knox, thus poisoning the American gold supply and making his own gold reserves infinitely more valuable. The film benefited from near perfect casting throughout. German actor Gert Frobe (his voice dubbed, as he barely spoke English), was an ideal Goldfinger, a rotund, piggish monster who always cheated to win - whether it be at cards, at golf, or dealing with his adversaries. Auric Goldfinger's right-hand man, Oddjob, played by Hawaiian wrestler Harold Sakata, became the prototype of every subsequent villainous henchman; silent, nearly invulnerable, with an evil grin and a steel-edged bowler hat he would toss that could cut the head off a marble statue.

When it comes to the "Bond Girls" we have two of the very best. Shirley Eaton created a sensation in her 5-minute appearance as Jill Masterson. She betrays Goldfinger for a tryst with 007, and ends up a nude corpse covered in gold paint - an iconic image to rival Ursula Andress in her white bikini. Then there's Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore, leader of an all-female team of pilots known as Pussy Galore's Flying Circus. Blackman was selected for the role of Pussy Galore thanks to her role in The Avengers, and after her casting the script was rewritten to show her judo abilities. Her name caused a lot of problems with American censors, they agreed not to interfere with her name in the film but refused to allow "Pussy Galore" to appear on any promotional materials (she'd be referred to as Miss Galore or Goldfinger's personal pilot.)

Director Guy Hamilton, making his first Bond movie, said that the character of 007 only needed a push to become a Superman, and he provided it. Goldfinger built on the previous two Bond movies by increasing the humor and ever-present gadgets - most memorably the prototype Aston Martin DB5, complete with armor plating, machine-gun turrets, rotating license plates, and an ejector seat. Completing the "Bond Formula", and defining a check-list for every future release.

Unforgettable moments abound, from the "shocking" pre-title sequence, to the golf match between Goldfinger and Bond (introducing Connery to the sport that would become his lifelong passion), to the famous laser torture scene ("Do you expect me to talk?" "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to DIE!"), to the climactic fight between Bond and Oddjob (during which Connery was actually injured, and Sakata burned his hand, badly).

Ian Fleming passed away during production of Goldfinger. After a last visit to the Pinewood set (the story takes place in Florida, Switzerland, and Kentucky, but nearly all of the film was shot at Pinewood, England) he commented on how he was very pleased at the success his creation had achieved thus far, and although initially hesitant towards the casting he thought Connery made an ideal Bond.

Fleming was confident in producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman and their vision for the future of the series. I think he'd be very proud if he knew that 50 years later that same level of hysteria Goldfinger generated still surrounds each new Bond release, as I'm sure it will for many years to come.

By day, an ordinary bloke in a dull 9 to 5. By night, a tired ordinary bloke. Martin still hasn't worked out what he wants to do when he grows up. He is currently 46.

James Bond will return next Thursday...
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