IT'S THE ONE WHERE
James Bond is dispatched to investigate Auric Goldfinger, suspected of smuggling gold. To assist him on his quest he gets a brand new Aston Martin, and we get the first proper Q scene. The car is outfitted with tracking device, anti-pursuit capabilities and an ejection-seat. Of course Bond flirts with Moneypenny, the secretary, he nails every broad with a pulse, including the feisty pilot Pussy Galore, and the innocent Jill Masterson, who pays for that bit of fun, by being suffocated in gold paint (which is not actually possible, according to Mythbusters).
THE SECRET PLOT TO RULE THE WORLD AWARD GOES TO...
...Goldfinger, of course. Not only does he have a clever plan to win world domination, he actually almost succeeds. He's assisted, in no small amount, by his Korean henchman Oddjob, who can throw a hat really hard (also, not possible, according to Mythbusters).
Pssst... Do you know how we can tell Goldfinger is really bad? He cheats when he plays gin! The humanity... The humanity...
Now we're getting somewhere. This is by no means a clear-cut winner, but Goldfinger is far less embarrassing than the previous two 007 films. Bond is ready for action even before the opening credits roll. He jumps out of the water in scuba gear (with a duck on his head, but never mind that), plants some explosives, removes the diving gear to reveal an impeccable suit, and almost gets laid. All this before the film has even begun. Of course, he's also nearly killed twice within the first 5 minutes, but it wouldn't really be Bond if he was all careful, right? Even though he's reckless, he's far less stupid in this movie than in the earlier entries. It continues to amaze me how much he relies on luck, rather than his (presumably) extensive training, but I guess that's the charm of the whole concept.
Story is still a major issue, although by the end, we're clearly on the right track. However, the first act is still a bit rough. We're introduced to Goldfinger in two elaborate sequence: In the first Bond catches him cheating during his card game, and in the second Goldfinger and Bond play a round of golf, where they both cheat. That's the first half hour. Neither of these scenes lead anywhere, we learn nothing particularly interesting (nothing that isn't repeated later anyway), and the pace is off the charts slow. Luckily the central plot, meaning Goldfinger's plan, which involves compromising the entire US gold supply, is actually quite clever. As soon as that kicks into gear the film becomes interesting. We get some cool action scene, a few clever plot twists, and some genuinely interesting characters, who actually pose a threat or a challenge to Bond.
We could have done without the "unnecessarily slow cutting device" Bond is exposed to, or the rather clumsy exposition scene where Goldfinger explains his entire plan in great detail to a bunch of people, only to kill them off minutes later, but to be fair these are minor bumps in the road, barely noticeable when we're going at full speed. The entire end sequence is certainly on par with the best of the best from the '60s! There's a big fight between two groups of soldiers, cross-cut with a small fight between Bond and Oddjob, while the counter of an armed nuclear device provides an inescapable and rather effective deadline.
Goldfinger was a rather enjoyable revisit, but like I mentioned, it's not without it's flaws. Story is one thing, but I do think the worst crime this movie commits, is the scene where Bond cheats a guard by pretending to ride down an elevator behind his prison cell door. You know who also does the elevator thing? Austin Powers. At least he got laid with that trick.
Oh, and one last thing... Pussy Galore? Really? Really!? Can we please put an end to these juvenile female character names?