James BondPop Culture

Goldfinger (1964) – The Movie That Defined James Bond.

Goldfinger was the third Bond movie and a landmark one at that, considered the best of the series by many. The movie is my personal favorite too, the first one I have ever watched. Bond had matured and Connery’s Bond defined James Bond as we would know him. The movie as a whole set the pace for all the Bond movies to come till Die Another Day. The movie has become a pop-culture reference point when it comes to James Bond.

JAMES BONDSean Connery (3rd appearance)

Directed ByGuy Hamilton
Produced by: Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli
Screenplay byRichard MaibaumPaul Dehn
Based On: Goldfinger by Ian Fleming
Theme Song performed by: Shirley Bassey
Release date(s): 17 September 1964
Running Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
Bond Series: 3/23
Distributed byUnited Artists
Budget: $3 million
Gross Revenue: $124.9 million
Preceded by: From Russia With Love (1962)
Succeeded by: Thunderball (1965)


Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore

Shirley Eaton as Jill Masterton

Tania Mallet as Tilly Masterton

Margaret Nolan as Dink


M (Bernard Lee)

Q (Desmond Lewellyn)

Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) – Still pines for Bond

Felix Leiter (CIA and old friend)

Villain – Auric Goldfinger (Gert Froebe)

Auric Goldfinger is a British multi-billionaire businessman dealing worldwide in gold and gold bullion. He is also criminal-minded, cold, cunning, has no humor and is absolutely ruthless. What sets him apart is his craving and love for gold and everything associated with it, including the color yellow. In his own words: “I love its colour, its brilliance, its divine heaviness“. “Operation Grand Slam”, his elaborate plan for world economic domination is one of the most elaborately and perfectly planned villain schemes among all Bond movies.

Henchman – Oddjob (Harold Sakata)

Oddjob is Goldfinger’s manservant, driver, bodyguard and caddie. He is Korean, mute, and has the looks and strength of a bear and does all the killing and associated dirty work for Goldfinger, heading a private army of Koreans. Totally loyal to Goldfinger, Oddjob is ready to die for him without giving a second thought about it. His specialty weapon is a bowler hat with a steel brim, sharp enough to cut the head off a marble statue.

Villain Scheme – Explode a nuclear device inside Fort Knox, rendering the World’s largest gold repository radioactive and unapproachable for 58 years, thereby pushing the world economy into chaos. The value of his personal stockpile of gold already worth billions will increase exponentially in such a scenario. To get into Fort Knox and to the gold, Goldfinger plans to gas the military troops stationed around Fort Knox using a fatal nerve gas from airplanes, then use an industrial laser to cut into the vault.

Means – A ‘dirty’ nuclear device, an industrial laser and Delta-9 fatal aerial nerve gas. And a scheme planned down to the minutest detail.

CarsAston Martin DB5 (Bond), Ford Thunderbird (Felix Leiter/Tilly Masterton), 1937 Rolls Royce Phantom 3 (Goldfinger)

Bond Car Equipped With – Rear oil slick, rear smoke screen, spike deploy, bulletproof body, rear bulletproof shield, front machine guns, ejector seat, homing device tracking viewer, wheel blades.

Gadgets – Two homing devices, one large and one small.

Locales – London UK, Kentucky USA, Miami USA, Switzerland.


Direct Kills: 4, Vodka Martinis: 2Captured: 2, Tight Spot Escapes: 5, Romps: 3, Chases: 2, Fights: 6


Bond: “Shocking, definitely shocking!” (After killing a man by electrocution)

Galore: “My name, is Pussy Galore.”

Bond: “I must be dreaming.”

Bond: “Do you expect me to talk?”

Goldfinger: “No Mr.Bond, I expect you to die!”


The Pre-Title opening sequence

James Bond’s encounters with the Masterton sisters. Jill in particular.

The chase in the forest where the DB5 is used to its full potential, a pop culture icon.

The Laser table scene where Bond almost gets cut in half, supplemented with the infamous Goldfinger dialogue.

Golfinger exterminating the gangsters with the Nerve Gas and the crushing of Mr. Solo

The final battle inside the vault of Fort Knox, especially the mismatched fight between Bond and Oddjob.

STORYLINE (Caution, Spoilers!!)

After blowing up a Latin American drug facility, James Bond lands up in Miami where is asked to keep an eye on Auric Goldfinger. He confronts him over radio after seducing his assistant Jill Masterton who was helping him cheat over a game of Gin Rummy. Later, Bond is knocked out by Goldfinger’s henchman Oddjob, and Jill is found dead covered head to toe in gold paint. In London, M informs Bond that Goldfinger transports large quantities of gold out of England through unknown means for unknown purposes and wants Bond to find out how, for what and stop him.

After meeting Goldfinger under the guise of wanting to sell him rare gold bars over a game of Golf, Bond follows him to Switzerland where he meets Tilly Masterton (Jill’s sister) who is out to kill Goldfinger. Bond does some snooping around Goldfinger’s factory but is captured after a chase which also resulted in Tilly’s death. Goldfinger almost kills Bond using an industrial laser, but then changes his mind and knocks him out after Bond bluffs that he knows about “Operation Grand Slam” and 006 will take over if he does not report. Bond wakes up on Goldfinger’s private jet where he meets his personal pilot Pussy Galore. They land in Kentucky, USA, and Bond is taken to Goldfinger’s ranch where he overhears Goldfinger’s plans to raid Fort Knox as he details them to a gathering of American gangsters. Later, Goldfinger reveals to Bond his plan for world economic domination. Bond later has a romp with Pussy Galore, who was till now resisting his advances.

The next day, the nerve gas raid takes place as planned and all the security troops around Fort Knox seem to be knocked out. The nuclear device arrives via helicopter and Goldfinger turns it on inside the vault after chaining Bond to it. By then, the troops “wake up” and launch a full assault against Goldfinger’s henchmen army. Goldfinger escapes dressed as a US army general after locking Bond and Oddjob inside the vault. With the clock ticking, Bond frees himself and electrocutes Oddjob after a fight, killing him. By now having gained entry into the vault, Felix turns off the device just in time with only 7 (007) seconds left for it to detonate and tells Bond that Pussy had called Washington and informed them about Goldfinger’s plans. Bond later boards a US Air Force jet to Washington but Goldfinger hijacks it with Pussy piloting, and tries to kill Bond. In the ensuing melee, Goldfinger’s gun goes off, shattering a window of the plane and sucking him out of it, killing him. The plane crashes into the sea, but Bond and Pussy escape by parachute and land on an island, and are later shown making love inside it.


  • First appearance of the Q-Branch workshop scenes, showing the camaraderie between Bond and Q.
  • A survey in the early 1990s revealed that something like 80% of the movie going public had seen Goldfinger at least once. (source)
  • None of the scenes were actually filmed in USA, and the entire Fort Knox vault was a set.
  • Only Connery-era Bond movie which does not have S.C.E.P.T.R.E/Blofield as the primary villain.
  • Pierce Brosnan’s favorite Bond movie.
  • Little known fact – Margaret Nolan who briefly appears as “Dink” in the beginning of the movie is also the girl who is the dancing golden silhouette appearing during the title credits. The gold-covered girl in advertisements (see below) is she as well.


Goldfinger is remembered out for it’s humorous, light and breezy rendering. More than the director, it is the sharp, witty and immaculately dressed Connery who peaked in his career as James Bond that we have to thank for it. Guy Hamilton has put together almost everything that is expected of a classic spy movie of the non technological kind: Card games, Golf, seduction, tailing, snooping, listening in, mismatched fights, breaking and entering, car chases, beautiful women, quick wits, near death situations, elaborately laid out villain schemes and mind-numbing suspense. The difference happened when the movie took on a different route from the earlier two Bond films with Blofeld and SPECTRE nowhere in the picture. There were no immensely technological schemes for World domination, Cold war themes or huge over-the-top villain lairs that sometimes look comical. The strength of the movie was the plot that Goldfinger hatched, intense, intricate and minutely down to detail which looked plausible and life-like, unlike the cartoony and otherworldly schemes of the usual Bond villains.

What really set this movie apart and got the ball rolling was the pre-title opening sequence: Bond swims up a lake in the night with a dummy seagull on his head as camouflage, forces entry into a heroin producing lab, plants explosives and timer, removes wetsuit to reveal a Tuxedo underneath, calmly walks into a bar fully regaled and orders a Vodka Martini, does not blink an eye as the explosion occurs next door, canoodles with the dancer girl, spots attackers by reflection in her eye, impales one and electrocutes the other before walking off shaking his head muttering “shocking, positively shocking!” This one sequence alone defined “James Bond” as generations would know and remember him. He has a permanent smirk on his face, his wits are perfectly timed and remains unflappable and unwavering whatever happens, except at the Laser table, where his quick thinking alone saved him. He dresses up immaculately with not a hair out of place, just like there is not a scene out of place in the movie. The classic spytale has almost everything falling exactly into place. The kickass soundtrack is just a bonus.

However, the funniest and most striking fact about the movie is that despite everything, Bond did nothing directly to foil the plans of Goldfinger. It was Felix Leiter who disarmed the bomb and it was Galore who informed Washington about Goldfinger’s plans. It is not known of the gas was switched by her, or if it was ineffective. But however, Bond must be given credit for “convincing” Galore to switch sides, which was the main turning point of the plot. Done like a true spy!


Goldfinger, simply put, invented James Bond on the silver screen, how the super spy would be seen and remembered by generations later, spawning one of the greatest pop culture icons ever. The process of “defining” James Bond that started with Dr.No and built up steam through From Russia With Love, finally culminated with Goldfinger. The image of James Bond as the larger-than-life impeccably dressed unflappable secret agent with his quick, witty, punny one liners, his irrefutable charm, mountain-sized ego, encyclopedic knowledge and quick presence of mind attained maturity as the uber-alpha male with this immensely successful movie. The film also installed the template that almost all future Bond films would follow, the first being the pre-title sequence. This was the first movie that had an elaborate pre-title sequence that was not connected to the movie with Bond following a complete mission. This would be followed by all Bond movies in the future. Also was established the link between Bond and his gadgets and cars and the camaraderie with Q in his workshop where he demonstrates several gadgets, again the first. M, Moneypenny and nature of his missions were defined in the previous movies itself. And of course, the most remembered contribution Goldfinger has presented with – The immortal Aston Martion DB5, which has become part of James Bond folklore, and Pussy Galore.


The Good – Sean Connery “living” as James Bond, Locales, Plot, Villain, Car, Execution, Pussy Galore.

The Bad – Korean henchmen?

Bond Scale: 1st Best in 22 Movies, 9 Stars out of 10

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