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Goldfinger [1964)

Honor Blackman really did know judo.  I am speaking, of course, about Pussy Galore.  No, not the band Jon Spencer fronted prior to the Blues Explosion, but rather the original article.  Blackman plays Pussy (“Poosy,” as Connery says it) and gets to show off the martial arts skills she indeed has in real life.

Art imitated life as well in the directorial realm.  Guy Hamilton took the helm when disputes arose between previous Bond director Terence Young and Eon Productions.  Hamilton had known Ian Fleming and also, like Fleming, done intelligence work for the Royal Navy in WWII.

Ken Adam returned to set design after working for Kubrick on Dr. Strangelove.

Just as odd as Oddjob (the Korean with the throwable hat of death) is the fact that Goldfinger was the seventh Bond novel Fleming wrote.  As I mentioned in my article on Casino Royale (the first Bond novel), there was a bit of trouble concerning rights to these books.  Eon Productions would go on to dominate the screen versions of Bond, but Casino Royale was made as a spy spoof by Colombia Pictures in 1967 (not unlike Modesty Blaise of 1966).  Indeed, it was a court case which convinced Eon Productions to hold off on Thunderball and go ahead with Goldfinger.

Credit for the ingenious “irradiation of the gold” should be given not to Fleming, but to Richard Maibaum.  Fleming had not quite thought through the impossibility of emptying Fort Knox of its gold deposits (unless the thieves had a couple weeks time to haul it off:  not exactly conducive to a “getaway”).

Hollywood magic provided for Sean Connery to be filming Marnie with Alfred Hitchcock while a small crew actually showed up for the location shoot in Miami.  Ian Fleming himself visited the set at Pinewood Studios in the U.K., but died before the film was released.  Notably, there was actual filming done in the Fort Knox area because of a connection between producer Albert Broccoli (a real name, to be sure) and Lt. Col. Charles Russhon, but they were never (reportedly) allowed in the depository.  Ken Adam was tasked with imagining what the inside might look like.  The result of his imaginings was built at Pinewood.

The very latest Aston Martin (1964) was chosen to be Bond’s super-spy car (complete with smokescreen, oil slick, machine gun and other such technology).  The make was chosen at the behest of Ken Adam (who considered it England’s most “sophisticated” brand).  Bond would return with the same model in Thunderball (though he drives his first-issued DB5 into a brick wall).

The laser in Goldfinger morphed from a circular saw in Fleming’s book to the edge of science fiction (industrial lasers not existing in 1959 when Fleming wrote the book, nor in 1964 when the film was made).

To emphasize the human version of gold, the creators of the film took a page out of Hitchcock’s “icy blonde” book and liberally cast blondes for nearly all the female characters.

It is interesting to note that the Goldfinger soundtrack topped the Billboard 200 chart (thanks to Shirley Bassey’s brassy rendition of the title song).

One particularly novel product tie-in which emanated from Goldfinger was Bond “dress shoes.”

But lets get back to people, shall we?  It is people who make products.  The title designer Robert Brownjohn not only referenced Moholy-Nagy, but he was the New Bauhaus founder’s protégé.  Today we know it as the Institute of Design in Chicago.  Brownjohn died in 1970, but not before designing the cover to The Rolling Stones’ album Let It Bleed.

Guy Hamilton directed three more Bond films after Goldfinger, but not until after a long hiatus which stretched to 1971.  He is a French director and, perhaps to the astonishment of those who also don’t realize Godard is still alive, is 91 years old.

Of the producers, Harry Saltzman was born in Quebec and died in Paris.  The aforementioned Albert “Cubby” Broccoli was born in Queens, NY and died in Beverly Hills.

Writers Richard Maibaum and Paul Dehn have both passed away.

Ian Fleming we have already noted as concerns mortality.

Sir Sean Connery is alive and well being born, like Godard, in 1930.

Gert Fröbe (Goldfinger himself), funny enough, appeared in the movie version of another novel written by Ian Fleming:  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

And Pussy Galore?  Dear, sweet Pussy Galore?  She lives on as Honor Blackman (even though she was the oldest actress to play a Bond girl).  She declined a CBE in 2002.  She is a signed supporter to replace Britain’s monarchy with a republic.  Indeed, what was it that inspired Pussy to call Washington, D.C.?  Motherly instinct?

 

-PD

 

 

 

 

 

2 responses to “Goldfinger [1964)

  1. I like your insight about the blonde women being the “human version of gold.” Austin Powers spoofed this film as well, e.g., Goldmember and Random Task. I wrote a short post on Goldfinger called “The Absurd Nature of Greed.” If you would like to read it, here is the link: https://christopherjohnlindsay.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/goldfinger/

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