Of all the Bond films and the various images and gadgets that have come from it through 20 films, the one that probably crystallized most of these images is Goldfinger. You have the awesome Aston Martin car with the ejector seat, machine guns, and the like. You had the female who could kick ass and had a really cool name in Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman, Bridget Jones’s Diary). And you had Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton, Ten Little Indians) experiencing the most creative death to…that point.
And to top all of this, Goldfinger is a really cool film with a good story (albeit one that people may laugh or frown upon because of its age). As Bond, Sean Connery (The Untouchables) finds himself early on running into Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), his driver and henchman Oddjob (Harold Sakata, Death Dimension), along with his pilot, Kitty (er, Pussy) Galore. Goldfinger has a plan that involves invading Fort Knox and robbing the US of its gold supply.
Is the plot kind of silly too? Well, perhaps, but you accept the plot because the actors and characters in the film have to be taken with some grain of salt. They aren’t meant to be too serious, but when it comes to pure entertainment, Goldfinger delivers on that in spade. Now, compare to Dr. No, Connery has taken Bond from a character who did not hesitate to do bad things to one who really enjoys whatever situation he’s in, no matter how dangerous it may be. Frobe helped define Goldfinger as the prototypical Bond villain (though his voice is never heard in the film), and Blackman’s performance as Pussy Galore also helped define what it means to be a Bond girl, both beautiful and dangerous. In later films, some of these portrayals may have been used in other Bond films, perhaps to a fault, but as Bond films go, this is ground zero for everything else that happened after that.
Lowry Digital gets another thumbs up for their restoration work in the older Bond films. Goldfinger appears in a 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation and looks pretty good, and the gold on Eaton looks pretty vivid. And for a film that’s over 40 years old, I was pretty impressed how it turned out.
The mono/stereo track for the older films have been dropped for favor of two surround tracks, one sporting DTS. Some of the explosions and the score do have some surround activity to them, but most of what happens in the film happens in front of you and happens quite clearly.
As mentioned before in other Bond Editions, the old extras have been kept, and some new extras have been included as well, most of which has been given a second disc to stretch out. The commentary from the last version is included, with some historical details, but the main participant is director Guy Hamilton (who directed two other Bond films, Live and Let Die and Diamonds Are Forever), but there is some archived interview footage with Connery, Blackman and Llewelyn, among others. Hamilton shares his thoughts on the actors that he worked with, along with the occasional production story (which is OK), but the Bond historian that hosts the track talks about the movie and its context within other Bond films, and the discussion on the car and the gadgets. Overall, it’s still quiet and flat, but provides enough information to make it a little enjoyable.
Going into the second disc, the new extras are pretty bland and are interesting for their novelty more than anything else. “On the Tour with the Aston Martin DBS” is a ten minute look at the promotional activity for the car that helped propel the brand into history. In the midst of the film are a couple of newsreel stories about the car, think of them as prototypical puff pieces of entertainment news. There’s some interview footage with Blackman that’s designed to be a “mad libs” of interview footage, where the answers are provided with pre-scripted questions. There’s some more interview footage with Connery on set, and about ten minutes worth of screen tests of aspiring Goldfingers, notably Theodore Bikel (My Fair Lady) and Titos Vandis (The Exorcist), before the part went to Frobe. And aside from the “interactive” sessions of Bond missions, locations, women and weapons, the old extras come over from the last edition of the disc. There are a couple of making of pieces on the film, both are about a half hour in length and narrated by Patrick MacNee (The Avengers). There’s a more traditional making of piece that’s full of archived footage from the cast and crew involved with the film, and the locations, production design and production schedule are all covered and generally summarized. The “Goldfinger Phenomenon” focuses more on the publicity and the memorable scenes and visions the film produced, and there’s a truckload of merchandise that came out when the film did, and you see a good portion of it here, and the piece wraps up with the then-current Bond Pierce Brosnan discussing what he thought when first seeing the film. Following that are separate sections for the advertising (see: a trailer, three TV spots and five radio spots) and a series of stills galleries.
Goldfinger remains the most fun of the Bond films, and probably the best of the bunch. While the extras are a little on the thin side, the audio and video are definite upgrades, so for those region-free playas, feel free to upgrade, and for the Region 1 guys, this is in Volume 1, so feel free to spend the money to take the plunge.
Special Features List
- Director/Cast & Crew Commentary
- Making of Documentary
- Film Retrospective
- Interactive Movie Scene Access
- Interview Footage
- Screen Test Footage
- Publicity Footage