A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 553 – James Bond: Goldfinger

James Bond: Goldfinger – September 4th, 2011

When discussing what Bond movies to get to fill in my Bond education a bit, we decided on an earlier one and a later one. And let’s face it: Sean Connery is very much the classic James Bond. I know everyone has their personal favorite but without having seen much Bond, Connery is the one I think of when I think of the name. So! I figured a Connery Bond movie was probably a requirement. Faced with which one to get, Andy went with this one. And I understand why. It’s iconic, really. The gold-covered woman, the death-by-slow-moving-laser bit, it’s all been done and done again and done to death by everyone who wants to refer to a Bond trope. And now I’ve seen the source for all of that.

Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it that much. Oh, I enjoyed parts of it, and I enjoyed the very young Sean Connery as Bond. Until he forced himself on Pussy Galore and the movie treated it like romance. Ick. Ick ick, a million times ick. For future reference, if a woman says no, and then says no again, continuing to kiss her will not make her actually want it. Acquiescing is not romantic. And it’s not consenting. I was aware that Bond’s a total player. I had not quite realized the womanizing went to this point. And to be honest? It ruined the movie for me. No matter what else I think when I look back on it, I cannot get that scene out of my head. As it happened I watched with a sort of dawning realization that it was not going to get better. She wasn’t playing at saying no to tease him. He wasn’t going to leave off and let her go. And then apparently he has a magic penis that makes it all okay. It’s presented as seduction, but it sure didn’t look that way to me.

I will try to put that scene aside for the moment and review the rest of the movie without its incredibly squickful effects in my head. Because without that scene? Or if it had been handled a little differently? I would have enjoyed the movie a hell of a lot more. It still wouldn’t be my favorite of the ones I’ve seen, but it wouldn’t be below the others and every single other Bond movie that I haven’t seen. Because it’s got a ridiculous over-the-top villain! And it’s full of ridiculous plots and Bond being suave and there are gadgets! Yay gadgets! And I like Pussy Galore and her eminently capable character. Honor Blackman is one of two Bond girls who was also in The Avengers with Patrick Macnee, making three Avengers main cast who’ve also been in Bond movies. And I’m totally up for that. Maybe it’s because I grew watching that show. Maybe it’s because I’m looking for touchstones here. And I will note that this movie is referred to in The Avengers episode Too Many Christmas trees, when Steed gets a Christmas card from Cathy Gale and wonders aloud about what she’s up to at Fort Knox.

It was an interesting experience, watching this for the first time through the past experiences of everything I’ve seen that’s referred to it, from Austin Powers to MST3K movies to Mythbusters. It was almost like overhearing a story, then seeing it play out in front of you later. I felt like I could predict the plot and its basic points regardless of not having seen the actual movie. What I didn’t predict was that Bond’s kind of a dick. And I don’t just mean the scene I mentioned above. As Andy noted later on, Bond spends a lot of his time just prodding Auric Goldfinger because he can. Goldfinger is the villain here. He’s a bombastic sort of guy, but not in the cheerful Brian Blessed way. He’s got a big temper and a big love of gold and he’s willing to kill a heck of a lot of people in order to get more and make it more valuable. The plot follows Bond as he taunts Goldfinger, tails Goldfinger, gets captured by Goldfinger, conspires against Goldfinger, thwarts Goldfinger, saves the day, then is kidnapped by Goldfinger again before Chekhov’s Handy Plot Point sends Goldfinger out the window of a plane.

Goldfinger’s plan is a novel one, or it was at the time I suppose. Really though, I kind of like how ostentatious it is: He plans on gaining manpower from a variety of different criminal organizations from all over the world by promising them money, convinces them to help him rob Fort Knox, then kills them off and keeps their dudes because his real plan is to detonate an atomic bomb in Fort Knox, making the gold untouchable until the radioactive cobalt and iodine aren’t radioactive anymore. Now, I’m not a nuclear physicist, but I suspect that the science here is a little wonky and about as reliable as the movie’s other scientific assertions. Unfortunately, while the Mythbusters have proven that covering oneself with gold paint won’t cause “skin suffocation” and that shooting a hole in the side of an airplane won’t cause a person to be immediately sucked out, I doubt they’ll be testing to see how long a cobalt and iodine bomb cause gold to be too radioactive to go near. It’s the idea of it that I like. It’s a nice twist on both a “let’s steal lots of money” plot and use of nuclear weapons as a threat.

I really do wish I could have enjoyed this movie more. It had some really fun moments and while it wasn’t gunning for my top spy movie, it was certainly holding its own in the middle range up until the so-called seduction. It was good to finally see a lot of the sources for things that show up all over the cultural landscape now, and I’m glad I’ve seen it in that it was definitely a hole in my pop-culture knowledge. It had a lot of positives. I just can’t forgive that one huge negative. And what makes it worse is that I can think of a few minor adjustments that would have changed the tone of the scene enough to make it less creeptastic. But alas, it was not to be. I probably won’t be running out to go buy more classic Bond, but perhaps it will be telling that when the next Daniel Craig Bond movie comes out I’m looking forward to it.

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September 4, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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