Movies to See Before You Die: “Goldfinger”

Travis McClain

Bats: R, Throws: R. How Acquired: Traded for a player to be named later. I hold a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Louisville, earned in history. I have lived with Crohn's disease since 2005, and chronic depression since my youth. I bring into each film that I view a world view shaped by those and other parts of my background. I try to be mindful of the socio-political themes and implications of movies, intended or otherwise, and that surely shows in my blog pieces. I also love doughnuts.

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9 Responses

  1. Casey Rhodes Casey Rhodes says:

    Pussy Galore! Or, as Bond says it, “Pushy.”

  2. Cody Wood Cody Wood says:

    No Mr. Bond I expect you to die!

  3. David Conrad says:

    Comment part 1 of 2 because I’m struggling with this comment field today:

    I think the pull-back shot of Tilly Masterson shooting at Bond, and the mountain driving sequence generally, provide the best-looking vistas in the franchise. And something about the golf game really grabs me. I think it’s the clothes and the cloudy quality of the light. I believe you told me, or maybe it was somebody else, that Bill Murray called Goldfinger the best golf movie ever made?

    “This score is bold and kinetic, like the young kid who sings over everyone else in their group recital and doesn’t care about being conspicuous.” — Well-said! The “entering Miami” cue reminds me of the music in The Godfather when Tom Hagen goes to see Jack Woltz in Hollywood.

    • David Conrad says:

      Comment part 2 of 2:

      “Barry outright rescues the scene in which Bond and Pussy take turns knocking done one another in a barn.” — I think it blunts the edge, but less completely than the removal of the racism. The last 45 minutes or so of Goldfinger is rather ungainly in every respect, I feel.

      “much like a moth warning others about the dangers of flames it can’t fully resist” — Well-said again! Gert Frobe is such a leering schlub, though, that I’ve always wondered why the character is depicted as such a sex-magnet in the song. The Thunderball lyrics are more menacing and don’t imply any charm on the part of its subject, whoever that may be (Bond or Largo or, hell, Blofeld?)

    • David, it was probably me who mentioned the Bill Murray quote. I tried to find it online so I could quote and attribute it properly, but couldn’t find it. I found a transcript on a webpage that seems to have been that same interview (in it, the question is actually what is the *second* greatest golf movie of all time, the obvious #1 being “Caddyshack”), but without the magazine issue, page, etc. information.

      I’ve never read the title song as suggesting that Goldfinger is a sex magnet, but rather that he has a way of luring women into his web and then they die. That’s consistent with what we see in the film: he pays Jill Masterson “to be seen with him”, and it’s clear that his relationship with Pussy Galore is strictly business. We also see that he prefers to kill his business associates rather than make good on his promised payment. There’s a pretty strong chance that Jill was headed for the same fate even if she had never met 007.

      As for “Thunderball”, that movie’s music is definitely worthy of a Soundtracks of Significance piece sometime. While conducting my on-the-fly fact-checking/research for this piece a few nights ago, I came across something that said the lyrics to that film’s title song was about Bond. I can’t recall offhand, but I *think* that was in the liner notes to the 1992 Best of James Bond compilation. “Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”, the intended main theme for the movie, was certainly about Bond, and I’m pretty sure that Saltzman and Broccoli (and McClory) retained that focus for its replacement.

    • Anonymous says:

      David, I agree with your assessment of the barn scene. Score or no, he still comes off pretty much like a sexual predator to me in that scene. I still love the movie overall, but that scene is hard for me to watch.

    • Jandy Hardesty says:

      That anon was me. Not sure what happened there.

  4. Jandy, there are unfortunately too many moments and elements of Bond that are hard to watch or read and you’ll get no argument from me that Bond’s treatment of Pussy in Goldfinger is in the Top 10. I made a point to call out Literary Bond’s (Fleming’s) anti-Korean racism and to call attention to this scene in an effort to avoid whitewashing its sins, but you’re absolutely right. It was too much (too generous?) for me to have ruled that Barry’s score “saves” the scene. At best, the lighthearted music blunts it, but it’s still off-putting to see our hero purposely crossing established boundaries like that. To guard against future egregiousness, I may take to having you vet my drafts!