This review is part of Project Bond, wherein over the course of 2014 we watch all of the James Bond movies in production order.
What, you thought that with us having watched all 23 movies there would be no more posts?! HA!
Alex: I love lists. They amuse me greatly. So I thought I would make some lists of things from the Bond movies. I also love tables…
Best Bonds: it has to be done. How do we rank the Bonds, best to worst?
|Dalton||Connery (too many fond childhood memories I think)|
Alex: Connery? Really? You let the nostalgia blind you. Also how can you put Moore above Lazenby? Hooooooow?!?
James: Lazenby is ok, but while Moore is cheesy as a body of work the combination of films is still more impressive than the bumbling efforts of Lazenby for one films as ‘Hilly’. Neither of them are great, even Brosnan wasn’t as good as my faded memory. The strength of Dalton was a surprise for me.
Best Bond girls: choose whatever metric you like, but pick the top six (because there are six Bonds)…
|Vesper Lynd (Casino Royale)||Vesper Lynd (Casino Royale)|
|Wai Lin (Tomorrow Never Dies)||Honey Ryder (Dr No)|
|Pam Bouvier (Licensed to Kill)||Dr Goodhead (Moonraker)|
|Triple X (The Spy who Loved Me)||Wai Lin (Tomorrow Never Dies)|
|Tracy di Vicenzo (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service)||Kara (The Living Daylights)|
|Camille (Quantum of Solace)||Camille (Quantum of Solace)|
James: What about Dr Christmas Jones (The World is not Enough)? Quality Acting… or Bibi (For Your Eyes Only). Notes: Vesper is clearly the strongest character across all the films, Honey Ryder iconic, Goodhead just appeals to me, geek girl. Wai Lin kicks arse, Kara is the best of the innocent but involved girls and Camille is great, but not top 5.
Alex: I cannot believe you went there with Dr Jones. Seriously. I love that Pam Bouvier takes the lead in kissing Bond, and that she takes no crap from him. Tracy was always going to be a favourite of mine because Diana Rigg… and also she’s quite plucky. The other one that nearly made my top 6 is Melina, from For Your Eyes Only, and yes I agree that Dr Goodhead is indeed awesome. The ‘innocent’ girls have never worked for me – it’s too much like Bond is taking advantage of them. Which he does.
Best theme songs: let’s go with six again.
Alex: with the caveat that on a different day I might pick quite different songs… well, maybe three would be the same, but they too might be different on different days…
|From Russia with Love||A View to a Kill|
|Live and Let Die||From Russia with Love|
|Quantum of Solace||Quantum of Solace|
Alex: I am astonished that we have so many in common!
Best Bond villain:
|Blofeld (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service)|
|Scaramanga (The Man with the Golden Gun… does he really count as a villain?)|
|Alec Trevalyan (Golden Eye)|
|Kananga and Sanchez (Live and Let Die/ Licence to Kill)|
|Elliot Carver (Tomorrow Never Dies)|
James: I’m struggling to get excited about the baddie list, there are a few I don’t mind, Carver, Trevalyan and Blofeld. Scaramanga is a fun character, but he’s not a villain like the others. Largo? Number 1? I do like the SPECTRE films, but maybe that’s just because they remind me of Inspector Gadget somehow? Oh I like Dr No also. But the best? I just dunno.
Alex: this is my problem too! I think we (society) have this vague idea of Bond dealing with nemesis after nemesis, but the reality is that very few of them actually come close to being as good as Bond. I think the other thing that we sometimes forget is that Bond is an employee: with very few exceptions (Scaramanga, Silva) the villains are not after Bond as Bond. They are interested in either World Destruction/Domination, or Making A Great Deal of Money – and Bond keeps getting in the way of that.
I was also going to suggest we talk about Best Henchmen too, but since the winner is clearly Jaws by an enormous margin there’s just no point in even discussing it. (OK, Dario – played by Benicio del Toro – comes a close second for sheer insanity.) And as for Bond henchmen, Leiter (especially Jeffrey Wright) and Quarrel, for me, are the best.
Alex: I think one of the most interesting things about looking at the entire oeuvre of Bond films is the different (British?) preoccupations they each reveal – what disasters are most relevant at this time? Are we more worried about a country or a person? The flip in GoldenEye to being more worried about intangibles – information – than about physical death and destruction is a really significant one that you maybe don’t get without considering the whole suite.
James: I was struck by the preoccupation with space lasers… Always space lasers. I was also surprised by how little time Bond actually spends in casinos and ordering Martinis shaken not stirred; somehow that and the gadgets is my strong memory from childhood.
Alex: it’s completely the stereotype of Bond, which means I think that those childhood memories get reinforced by cultural/societal ‘memories’. I really liked that the writers for Craig in particular played with those expectations a bit; in fact it happened a few times, that Bond got all meta on itself. I approve of this.
Alex: it has certainly been an … interesting… experience. I have to admit that actually, I am disappointed by the franchise overall. Perhaps that’s too strong, perhaps that’s not fair; until you hit about Dalton you actually can’t judge the films by modern standards – well you can but, well, you just get disappointed. Having said that though there are lots of films made post-1990 that I don’t think meet what I consider even mediocre modern standards, so maybe my standards are too high? So be it.
My main problem has been the level of cheese. I pass over the sexism – in the early Bonds that’s part and parcel of the era, in the later Bonds it’s slowly improving, and in all of them it’s not like they’re out to challenge Hollywood which we all know isn’t great on the Women Existing As Characters front. And while there are problematic racial aspects I feel that Bond is less problematic in that regard – over the 23 films – than might be expected (not great, but not entirely cringeworthy). No, it’s the number of times that the story isn’t taken seriously, that silly glib lines are used to no effect – this is what I did not really expect to see as a feature, despite having seen a few Moores before this year. It really doesn’t work for me. And it’s also (to hark back to the previous discussion) not something that features in the cultural memory of Bond, so I was quite unprepared for it.
Will I watch some of these again? Absolutely. I can see myself rewatching the Daltons, possibly the early Brosnans, and the first and third Craigs. Maybe one or two of the Connerys? When enough time has passed? If the Moores all develop unexpected scratches, though, I will not lose any sleep.
James: Perhaps in future Bond should consider not pointing out to his arch enemy that he knows, that they know, that he knows. I’d re-watch Dr No, From Russia with Love, perhaps the Daltons, Golden Eye and Tomorrow Never Dies plus the Daniel Craigs. Only Casino Royal and Skyfall could even be considered great films and even then none of them are desert island material.
Bond, James Bond… now for a Martini or three.
This review is part of Project Bond, wherein over the course of 2014 we watch all of the James Bond movies in production order.
Summary: in which Bond is Connery again, Blofeld is the villain again, and the action takes place in a remarkably tacky Vegas that includes an elephant playing the slots (and winning). This is the first new Bond for Alex!
Alex: Yes friends, Connery came back for one more film after what was apparently a spectacular flop thanks to George Lasenby (unfair!). Mimicking the opening of that film, we hear Bond’s voice in the prologue long before we see his face, going for that tantalising thing of “is it? Is it??” which must have been completely offset by what was undoubtedly a massive advertising campaign.
If you haven’t seen the film, then my summary contains a massive spoiler, because Bond kills Blofeld in the prologue just before he undergoes some sort of plastic surgery. After all, the man has just shot his bride! … about which M is astonishingly insensitive, asking acerbically whether he can expect Bond to get back to his job now please? If he’s quite over being all emotional? Anyway, the grand denouement in the final act is that Blofeld is in fact not dead, but is manipulating a diamond-smuggling racket by impersonating a reclusive casino mogul. As one does when one has once again changed appearance, no longer being Telly Savalas but now Charles Gray.
The franchise can’t really decide whether it wants continuity or not: Bond kills Blofeld for revenge, but then ignores being a widower; Blofeld remarks that “science was never my strong suit” – except that of course it was, in the last film, since it was never suggested that he was simply the manager of the anti-allergy clinic. I imagine that this was a problem at least partly because that mysterious they never imagined the franchise would extend to six films; after all, who needs to think too hard about continuity for a run of maybe three films?
Before this reveal, it appears that the main villains are two utterly inscrutable men: Mr Wint and Mr Kidd, as they always call each other. Their motives for creating mayhem are never, as far as I can tell, fully revealed; they don’t even seem to be in it for the money. Maybe they just like killing and creating mayhem. They do have that feature common to most Bond villains: something that sets them apart from that manliest of men. Not a deformed hand or a scar… instead, they appear to be gay. Evidence? They are grown men who hold hands, and one comments that “Miss Case seems quite attractive – for a lady.” I’m intrigued that a film from the late 60s got away with having a homosexual couple. Villainous and hardly flaunting it, but still; my expectation of this era is that this was utterly verboten. Perhaps a franchise like this could get away with it? … but if that’s the case, then why don’t we see more gay characters in mainstream cinema in the 21st century? These are the questions that try, etc.
The plot revolves around diamond smuggling, which lends Moneypenny the opportunity to hint very broadly at Bond bringing her back a diamond ring – too soon! The real problem with the smuggling is that those diamonds are not, then, appearing on the market – they are presumably being stockpiled to then be dumped, or such a tactic threatened for blackmailing purposes. So once again Bond’s talents are being utilised for the benefit of the economy, not national security. To figure out what’s going on, Bond impersonates a diamond smuggler to hook up with Tiffany Case, to whom one of his first comments is “That’s a nice little nothing you’re almost wearing; I approve.” So what I think of as Roger Moore-era scripting, isn’t.
Which leads me sideways into a discussion, as always, of the women in the film. Case is initially a tough, business-oriented middleman for the smuggling operation. However, her character rapidly descends into can’t-do-anything-ness, which I found intensely irritating. Bond slaps her at one oint, to get information from her, and she barely reacts. My own reaction to this is complicated. I understand that in action films, there is violence. The fight scene between Pitt and Jolie in Mr and Mrs Smith? Brutal, and appropriate. The dance/fight between Starbuck and Apollo? Ditto. I don’t have a problem with men and women being violent in that context. Done in a manner that actually makes sense in the context, even demonstrations of the horror of domestic violence can make sense (this is an exception rather than a rule though). My problem with the violence shown in this – and other Bonds – is less that it’s a man hitting a woman, and much more that the woman rarely complains and it’s frequently immediately preceding or following sex. Yes, I know that the psychology around women in domestic violence situations is incredibly difficult: but this is Bond. It’s not aiming at verisimilitude, nor is it attempting to get across a deep message. Instead it’s suggesting that such violence is completely acceptable in someone like Bond – someone we admire. And I think that’s contemptibly lazy.
I should also mention the other three women in the film, but that won’t take much space. Bond meets Plenty O’Toole at the craps table; they go back to his place where a goon throws her over a balcony – fortunately for her, into a pool; she ends up drowned in a different pool later in the film. And then there’s Bambi (who’s white) and Thumper (who’s black): (body)guards of Willard Whyte, the man Blofeld is impersonating. They’re beautiful and athletic and tough, and of course Bond manages to take them both down.
Back to the plot, briefly: Unlike Goldfinger, whose goal really did revolve around the economy, Blofeld’s plans are grand and involve worldwide nuclear disarmament. For this reason he is working hand-in-glove with Professor Metz, a committed pacifist, who of course believes that Blofeld won’t actually take the final step of using the laser to harm anyone. Aw, so sad to see his disillusionment. Bond foils the plan to use the laser by switching cassettes (cassettes!) and stuffing the real one down Case’s bikini bottoms. Case then switches them back, thinking this is what Bond wants her to do and that she’s the one putting in a fake. Bond’s wrath at Case’s incompetence is spectacular… except of course it wasn’t incompetence, it was an entirely understandable and incredibly brave undertaking on her part – Bond just didn’t think she had the ability to do anything useful. It all comes good of course and Blofeld is really and truly killed, The End.
There is further evidence in this film of the franchise’s inherent SFnal nature. Tiffany Case has a most awesome machine that scans a photograph of Bond’s fingerprints and compares them with a set on file; Q has provided Bond with fake fingerprints for just such a contingency. There’s some discussion of radiation shields, a fake moon setting, and the whole point of the diamonds is actually to somehow allow the satellite to focus its laaaaaassseerrrrrrr better.
James: The most striking thing about this film is how different it feels to all the European based films which have come before. The American muscle cars, the desert and big sky country. Vegas is super cheesy and the car chases contrived. It would seem the world was still obsessed with space when this film was made with yet another villain using satellites to create a mayhem and destruction story line. One particular conjunction of all these themes was a chase involving a moon buggy, moto-trikes and cars across the desert – incomprehensibly the moon buggy with its top speed of about 7km per hour easily beats all comers. 1.5 Martinis.
This review is part of Project Bond, wherein over the course of 2014 we watch all of the James Bond movies in production order.
Summary: in which Bond dies, resurrects, and foils SPECTRE’s attempts to start a war between the US and USSR by eating their spacecraft. Also, he becomes a Japanese man. And gets married.
Alex: I love this theme song.
Once again, this movie sees James Bond become a science fictional film. The opening sequence is of Gemini 16, an American spacecraft, with its astronauts preparing for EVA. And then oh no! it gets swallowed by another spacecraft which appeared from nowhere! The USSR is, of course, blamed; the UK politely dissents with this assessment, but the US ignore their Anglo cousins.
Cut to credits. (And the revelation that the screenplay was written by Roald Dahl!)
I’ve made the point before about so much of Bond being set outside of England, and it’s only today that I realised that of course Bond is part of MI6 – the international arm of the British secret service. So of course he’s in exotic locales. This time, it’s Japan, and when Moneypenny throws Bond a book of Instant Japanese, he primly reminds her that he took Oriental Languages at Cambridge… which is, I think, one of the first time we get any information about Bond’s background. It’s interesting to think that after five films we know so little about our hero: no knowledge of his family background, his interests (aside from drinking and womanising)… nada. Apparently the Mystery Man was genuinely thought to be intriguing enough that it wasn’t necessary.
For an ambiguously SFnal film, Japan of the 1960s is an intriguing setting. Tokyo as a city is shown to be a place of, on the one hand, neon lights, while on the other traditional sumo wrestling. This dichotomy of future/past is repeated throughout. There are more security cameras than in the previous four films together, I think, and the head of Japanese security – “Tiger” – has cool round screens for showing scenes. He also has a private train and is disappointed that M doesn’t. The head of Osato Chemicals – the ostensible villain – has electric shutters and an X-ray machine in his desk.
On the other hand, there’s sumo wrestling and ninjas. In fact, there’s a remarkable amount of (Anglo-mediated) Japanese culture in this film, including a fake marriage ceremony that was both irrelevant to the plot and slowed the pace to a dead stop. I wonder whether this was because the opportunity of showcasing Japanese rituals was deemed worth it – and, indeed, exotic enough that it would work for 60s viewers? Screening “the Other” often has cachet, I know. From a gender perspective traditional Japan is suggested to be deeply sexist: Tiger gravely tells Bond that in Japan, “men always come first. Women always come second”… while four women in their underwear are washing them (“never do for yourself what someone else can,” or words to that effect). So that’s a thing.
There’s nothing really new about the gender politics here. The two Japanese women with whom Bond works are highly competent, but/and both fall in love with him. On reflection this makes Bond remarkably cold, since he’s making movies on the second – Kissy – just a week or so after Aki, for whom he seemed quite affectionate, has been killed. There’s also a female villain (number 11), whom he maybe sleeps with but certainly appears to have used his magical powers on, but then she does actually try to kill him. She’s a distinctly confused character, actually, and I was quite disappointed that they didn’t make her entirely straightforward (like Rosa in From Russia with Love). Also, Bond comments that Japanese girls “taste different” from their English counterparts. Er… wha??
The race element is present here, also. The absolutely worst moment is that Bond “becomes Japanese” in order to… I’m not sure what. He proceeds to train as a ninja, so maybe the appearance is really important? Basically he gets a bad haircut, has it dyed black, and gets some prosthetics on his eyes. It’s unconvincing. It is also, happily, the only case of yellow-face, so that’s positive. In terms of deaths, of the main characters only Aki – non-white and female – dies. I really expected Tiger to die, too, but happily he survives. And in looking up the cast I discovered that Tetsuro Tamba started acting in 1953, and had his last role in 2006. In that time, he was had 265 roles! By comparison, Connery’s credits go from 1954 to 2012, and come to 93.
Finally, it’s important to note that it turns out to be SPECTRE behind the eating-spacecraft thing; they’ve done it to a Russian craft, too, and their express purpose is to instigate a war between the US and USSR. Quite why… I’m not sure. Hoping to be
the phoenix rising from the ashes and taking over the world? Because mayhem is its own reward? But that’s almost beside the point when we actually get the great reveal: Number 1 is Ernst Stavro Blofeld (played by Donald Pleasance), and he introduces himself to James Bond. So we see his face. And, as almost always with a Bond villain, he is disfigured: his right hand is damaged somehow (and is thus literally sinister), and he also has scarring around one eye. Nothing like making an obvious play on the whole physical/moral connection, is there? I can’t help but be a bit sad that the mystery has gone out from Number 1. Being faceless is far more intriguing than being scarred, in an Ultimate Villain. (I’d also like to take this opportunity to point out that a Supervillain Organisation that relies on its ultimate boss for such instructions as “lower the shutters” when the rocket is about to take off has some serious management issues.)
James: It was a little incongruous when the ninja had to use explosives to break through the obviously chicken wire and plastic roof over the volcano lair, but otherwise quite an enjoyable film. Also, what’s not to love about Little Nellie, the helicopter with rockets, flame thrower, machine guns and aerial land mines which can fit in 4 stylish Louis Vuitton suitcases and be brought in at a moments notice by Q. For the movie nerds, I’m not sure the blu-ray transfer was quite as magical as some of the earlier films, but perhaps the novelty has worn off. 3 Martinis.
Summary: in which James Bond is back to fighting SPECTRE, often underwater. We’re back to being worried about atomic weapons, and the problematic nature of plastic surgery. Also, Nassau means bikinis, baby. Yeh.
Alex: This Bond moves firmly back into the SF zone with James Bond escaping from some villains at the start of the movie with the help of a jetpack. Seriously, the thing is straight out of the Jetsons. But because he is with A Girl, the jetpack is only useful to get him over a wall to the waiting car; then it’s into the DB5 and up with the bullet-proof screen. The prologue is a classic whack-a-villain sequence; in this instance the only immediate indication we have that the villain is such is that he is cross-dressing in an awesome blonde wig.
I love Tom Jones. This theme song is up there with my very favourites.
This movie sees Bond back to battling SPECTRE – and just like before, if you missed the one and only explanation for what SPECTRE stood for, tough cookies. Once again, Number 1 has no face, but he does have a ruthless streak as wide as the electric chair he utilises on someone who appears to be skimming proceeds. We’ve got a new Number 2: Largo, who proves to be a key player in this film. He has an eye patch. He is therefore, by default, evil.
Most of this film is again set in foreign locations – it opens in France and moves to Nassau – but there is a fairly long stretch in a sanitarium, where Bond is recovering from his last adventure. This involves canoodling his physical therapist. At least, he wants it to; she protests in rather strong terms, which nearly made me cheer. Then he is nearly killed while on a torture-rack-cum-massage-contraption, and in return for him not reporting her… well. Pretty sure that qualifies as blackmail, sir. You are a cad. The sanitarium also sees Bond just happen to come across a man who has been killed, who turns out to be someone else’s doppelgänger… which ends up being the key to the entire mystery. But I get ahead of myself.
While Bond is having massages, a NATO team is out flying a training sortie that involves two real live atomic bombs. Our doppelgänger has killed the real pilot and taken his place, then gasses the rest of the crew while they’re flying around. So he helps SPECTRE steal the bombs. But SPECTRE don’t really want the bombs for themselves – although they’ll probably detonate them anyway; it’s all about blackmailing the British government. For ONE HUNDRED MILLION pounds. (I can’t help but be reminded of Austen Powers.) And the way the government will signal that they agree to the plan? By making Big Ben strike 7 times, at 6pm.
I love the British.
Anyway, off to Nassau; Bond meets the dead pilot’s sister, who is Largo’s mistress and called Domino because she’s always in black and white; he eventually solves it all and they all live happily ever after. But there are some interesting things to comment on along the way… like the fact that Largo keeps sharks, which means I get to reference another XKCD comic! Also that he does not utilise the sharks that well, because Largo falls into that classic Bond pattern of the Gentlemanly Villain. There were so many opportunities for Largo to kill Bond, but when he’s come for lunch it would be soooo rude to push him into the shark pool, don’t you know.
Also in the Bond pattern: a new Felix Leiter! This time a fella who looks like the poor man’s Clint Eastwood, in sunglasses. Q turns up, in a Hawaiian shirt that hurts my eyeballs, and he and Bond go way beyond sparring into evincing quite withering dislike of each other. This hurt my heart a little. Bond’s main assistant in Nassau in female, and black. Naturally, she dies.
Bond gets around quite a few laydees in this film. One of them is with SPECTRE – Fiona – and I quite liked her. I particularly liked her when, after having sex with Bond and then the goons turn up to capture him, she totally calls Bond on that trope that I’m not allowed to name. Bond is snide and says he did it for King and Country, and she is contemptuous of the idea that sleeping with him would make her switch allegiance. Of all the unexpected things, Bond got meta on itself! I nearly cracked up when that happened! And then she died. Because Bond moved her into a bullet (again. This is a habit).
The one thing that really spoiled this film for me was the underwater fight scene at the end just going on toooo long. I’m guessing it was all new and exciting technology, but… it got a bit wearing. I was hoping for some fun when the sharks turned up, but even they were a bit boring.
Hey James, that underwater grenade scene. Would that actually have been as bad as Bond makes out?
James: Yes, water is incompressible so explosive underwater = very unpleasant and direct impact. Also … The nuclear bomb labelled “Handle like Eggs”? love it. I have to say, as a young man I enjoyed the underwater fight very much (which I have seen very many times), but on the re-watch it did rather drag on – 2.5 Martinis.
Summary: the greatest threat to the world is a gold-dealer who wants to irradiate the US’s stockpile of gold. Also, Pussy Galore has a Flying Circus. And Shirley Bassey manages to rhyme Midas with spider.
Alex: after two Cold War movies, we get one that’s entirely focussed on stopping a British citizen with a weird accent from destroying Britain and America’s ability to shore up the pound and dollar with their gold reserves. That’s an exceptionally weird premise for a movie made in 1964, and does not seem like the sort of thing that should lead to an exciting spy film of the sort surely already expected from the franchise.
Speaking of the franchise, this movie contains some of the most icon parts of the Bond oeuvre. It is in this film – in the opening sequence – that Bond zips out of a wetsuit to reveal a white tuxedo (after previously taking a fake duck off his head; it was his disguise). Felix Leiter is played by a different actor from the one that appeared in Dr No, hinting at the possibility that James Bond and his cohorts are not necessarily stable characters (… or that they’re Time Lords). Bond visits Q in his lair, and we get some snark and the admonition that the gear be returned in working order please, Bond. And Goldfinger and Bond share that immortal conversation:
Bond: Do you expect me to talk?
Goldfinger: No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die.
(Thank you, Randall, for this marvellous geeky take on the line). Bond also utters the phrase “heroin-flavoured bananas,” which for some reason hasn’t been as memorable.
There are several ladies featured in this film – more than in the previous two films together. Incidentally, Bond is making out with a nameless woman in the prologue when there’s an attempt at assassination (he sees the assailant reflected in her eyes, promptly turning her to take the
brunt of the blow); he’s being massaged by “Dink” when he encounters Leiter for the first time (he dismisses her with a smack on the butt because they’re dealing with “men’s business). More seriously, Bond seduces Jill Masterson when spying on Goldfinger (for whom she works) – she’s the one that ends up dead from being painted all in gold. He encounters her sister Tilly; they don’t have time to get it on before she’s dead, trying to kill Goldfinger in revenge. And then there’s… ahem… Pussy Galore. Played by
Honor Blackman, who by my reckoning might be the first appearance of someone who’s done the James Bond/Doctor Who double. Galore is a pilot, working for Goldfinger, and perfectly comfortable with his ostensible plan of making a very large amount of money by stealing it. Until she is wooed by Bond, that is, and SOMETHING MAGIC HAPPENS when they have sex but I’m not allowed to mention the trope that this is part of (even though James himself pointed it out during our viewing). What’s really awesome about Galore, though, is that she is entirely competent and self-assured (except when Bond is tripping her over and forcing himself onto her… which was way too close to that “she said no but she didn’t really mean it” thing… actually, it’s not CLOSE to it, it IS it.) And she runs a Flying Circus made up entirely of lady pilots, who are all also perfectly competent pilots, even in spite of having to wear black jumpsuits with serious Madonna cone bras underneath.
Yet again, this is not an entirely white film, which I still find intriguing. Of course, the roles for non-whites aren’t awesome… The best of them is Oddjob, Goldfinger’s manservant. Oddjob never really speaks; he grins a lot, and occasionally gestures while saying “Ah” – I’m not sure whether we’re meant to think this is Korean or what. Anyway, he has the coolest hat in the world, with a steel brim: he decapitates a statue with it, and knocks out Tilly Masterson (or possibly kills her. It’s not clear). There are also a lot of apparently-Korean servants running around to do Goldfinger’s bidding, none of whom speak, and a “Red Chinese” agent who has provided the dirty atomic bomb with which Goldfinger plans to irradiate Fort Knox.
Finally, in case we didn’t already know it, Bond is a snob. While having dinner with M and the head of the Bank of England, the latter deplores the brandy while the former doesn’t understand. Bond articulates its inferiority like he’s reading from a wine directory. But he’s also not above cheating, “playing games” with Goldfinger by switching his golf ball during their game of golf. Interestingly, he’s also shown as indecisive when faced with a ticking bomb. Obviously this was done to raise the tension – omg will Bond survive?!?!? – but the result is to make him dither over which wire to pull. And in the end, he’s not the one that disarms it. So he’s not all-knowing after all.
As a young fella growing up watching James Bond I have to confess to being much more interested in the Bond Gadgets than the Bond Girls so I enjoyed seeing the genesis of Q Branch and the start of a long interplay between Bond and Q himself. Also, hello DB5 … perhaps my favourite of all the bond cars – the very car used in the movie was sold recently. Goldfinger introduces another recurring Bond theme, the apparently accidental ‘car race’ vs a girl down a mountain road; another childhood favourite. 2.5 Martinis.