Lost in Translation: The Bond Project – Goldfinger

Bond: Sean Connery
Release Date: 1964
Original Story: Goldfinger
Publication Date: 1959
Previous Story: Dr. No
Next Story: For Your Eyes Only
Locales: Miami, Switzerland, Fort Knox

Villain: Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe)
Heavy: Oddjob (Harold Sakata/Tosh Togo)
Bond Girls: Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton), Tilly Masterson (Tania Mallet), Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman)
Other Notable Characters: M (Bernard Lee), Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell), Felix Leiter (Cec Linder), Q (Desmond Llewelyn), Hawker (Gerry Duggan)

Gadgets: Aston-Martin DB V with bulletproof screen, rotating license plate, bug tracking system, smoke screen, oil slick sprayers, hidden twin machine guns, retractable tire shredders, passenger ejection seat. Oddjob’s razor bowler hat.

Opening Credits: “Goldfinger“, performed by Shirley Bassey, written by John Barry, Leslie Bricusse, and Anthony Newley

Plot of Original: After a mission to destroy a heroin smuggling operation in Mexico, Bond runs across Junius Du Pont, who he had met in Casino Royale. Du Pont has a problem; he cannot win at Canasta against one Auric Goldfinger and he wants Bond to figure out how the man keeps winning. Bond agrees and starts investigating. He finds out that Goldfinger is getting assistance; Jill Masterton is reading Du Pont’s cards and providing Goldfinger the details over a radio. Bond interrupts and blackmails Goldfinger into returning Du Pont’s money. He also has a fling with Jill before heading back to England.

In London, M assigns the Goldfinger file to Bond. The mission is to find out how Goldfinger is smuggling gold out of England. M suspects that Goldfinger is financing SMERSH and their networks through his gold. Bond approaches Goldfinger a second time. this time challenging him to a round of golf. Bond and his caddy, Hawker, keep an eye on Goldfinger and his bodyguard, Oddjob, a Korean man who is a master of martial arts. Like in cards, Goldfinger cheats at golf, though Bond gets the upper hand by switching out Goldfinger’s ball for the wrong type. By the strict rules of golf, this means Goldfinger has lost.

Bond tracks Goldfinger and his Rolls Royce across the English Channel to Geneva. He learns how Goldfinger is smuggling gold out of the country – the Rolls itself had its parts replaced with gold. The gold is then made into airplane seats, which are then installed into an airplane heading to India. While tracking Goldfinger, Bond notices that he’s not the only one interested. A young woman is also interested in the man, but she wants Goldfinger dead. Bond discovers that the woman is Jill’s sister, Tilly Masterton. However, an alarm is raised and both Bond and Tilly are captured.

Goldfinger sets Bond in a death trap, a circular saw to cut him in half. Bond offers to work with Goldfinger. Goldfinger stops the execution and forces both Bond and Tilly to become his secretaries. As such, Bond is present when “Operation Grand Slam” is presented by Goldfinger to a number of organized crime gangs. Goldfinger’s plan is to rob Fort Knox of its gold, using a poison to knock out the residents and military personnel while the gangs loot the depository. The main obstacle is the vault door. For a lion’s share of the gold, Goldfinger has the solution, a small, clean nuclear bomb that will remove the door. With most of the gangsters agreeing, the contracts are signed. The lone holdout is killed by Oddjob. Goldfinger, though, has kept a key detail to himself and, later, with Bond. The drug being added to the water supply will kill, not just knock out.

Bond writes a quick note, including a reward for anyone who finds the note and delivers it to Felix Leiter, and drops it on Goldfinger’s airplane after flying to Kentucky in the hopes a cleaner will discover it. The assault on Fort Knox commences, with no one around to prevent the theft. However, Bond’s last ditch attempt to get a message out has worked. Leiter did get the message and prevented the poison from being added. The gangsters face armed resistance. Goldfinger escapes with Oddjob, who kills Tilly. The gang bosses also escape but are later killed on Goldfinger’s command.

Bond is placed on a flight back to England. The flight crew, though, has been replaced. The sole surviving gang leader, Pussy Galore, is on the flight, as are Goldfinger and Oddjob. A fight breaks out on the plane. Bond breaks one of the windows, causing Oddjob to be sucked out to his death. Bond then strangles Goldfinger, leaving him and Pussy as the sole two on board the crashing plane. They survive the crash and are picked up along the coast of Newfoundland.

Plot of the Film: The pre-credits sequence has Bond destroying a heroin manufacturing facility hidden in an oil refinery, a stealth operation. After setting the explosives, Bond removes his wetsuit to reveal a tuxedo. He strolls into a bar just in time for the resulting explosion. Most of the people in the bar run out. The dancer, however, does not. Bond heads up to her room. While getting to know the dancer better, he sees something in her eyes – a man sneaking up behind him. After a brief scuffle, Bond straightens his tux and leaves.

After the credits, Bond is in Miami where he runs into Felix Leiter. Leiter has a message for Bond from M. The new mission is to investigate Auric Goldfinger. Leiter points out Goldfinger at the hotel, just in time for his daily game of gin with Roy Simmons (Austen Willis). Simmons has not won a game against Goldfinger at all. Bond takes note of where Goldfinger is sitting, especially after the man makes a fuss about where he sits. Going through the hotel, Bond finds Goldfinger’s hotel room, where Jill Masterson is watching Simmons’ hand through binoculars and telling Goldfinger what the cards are. Bond interferes, forcing Goldfinger to lose the game. Afterwards, Bond and Jill hook up back in his hotel room. While getting another bucket of ice to properly chill his champagne, he gets knocked out. When he recovers, Jill is on his bed, dead, painted gold.

Back in London, M cautions 007 on making the mission personal. The goal is to find out how Goldfinger is smuggling gold, not get revenge for a lone woman. Bond grumbles but agrees. He gets his gear from Q-Branch, including several tracking bugs and giving up his Bentley for the Aston-Martin DB V with its exclusive set of aftermarket accessories. The first stop is to get Goldfinger’s attention through the use of a bar of gold from Nazi Germany, one that had disappeared during the war. Bond’s approach is to challenge Goldfinger to a round of golf.

Bond and his caddy, Hawker, keep an eye on Goldfinger and his manservant, Oddjob, during the match. Goldfinger is caught cheating by Bond, who lets the game play out. Bond insists on the strict rules of golf, which means penalties for losing a ball and playing the same ball through the game. With confirmation that Goldfinger cheats, Bond swaps out his opponent’s ball for a different model from the same manufacturer. Goldfinger never notices and wins the final hole, but loses when Bond points out the wrong ball. Goldfinger is not happy and has Oddjob deliver a warning by throwing his bowler and decapitating a statue. Bond does plant a tracker on Goldfinger’s Rolls Royce and lets the man leave.

Goldfinger travels across the English Channel to the Continent, heading to Geneva. The drive is long and tedious. Bond is tempted to race a woman on the winding Swiss roads, but remembers the mission. When Goldfinger makes a stop at a roadside stall to get luncheon, Bond uses the time to stretch his legs. However, a shot rings out, missing Bond. He spots the car from earlier and challenges the driver. The woman isn’t impressed and tries passing only to have 007 use the DB V’s tire slashers do their job. Bond offers to take her to a gas station to get a tow. On the trip to the station, Bind learns that the woman’s name is Tilly Soames, though he suspects otherwise given the initials on her wooden carry case, T.M.

With Tilly out of the way, Bond returns to tailing Goldfinger, winding up at his Geneva facility. With the darkness, Bond sneaks into the facility and discovers how Goldfinger is getting gold out of England – the Rolls has had parts replaced with gold versions. Goldfinger explains the process to Ling, unaware that Bond is eavesdropping. With the information he needed, Bond sneaks out of the facility.

While hiding just outside in the woods, Bond hears someone else. He follows the other intruder and sees Tilly with her rifle. Bond stops her and learns that Tilly is Jill’s sister, out for revenge. Stopping Tilly triggers an alarm, and Oddjob along with Goldfinger’s security are waiting at the Aston Martin when Bond and Tilly arrive there. They get into the DB V and are chased. Bond uses most of the gadgets Q added to the car, but eventually run into a dead end. Bond raises the bulletproof screen for a last stand, but Tilly tries to run. She is killed by Oddjob throwing his bowler. Bond surrenders and is forced to drive his car back into the facility.

Once inside, the lead car makes a left. Bond makes a right, starting a second chase. The guard with Bond is sent flying by the passenger ejection system, leaving 007 alone. However, a well-placed mirror is his end.

When Bond awakens, he is strapped on a table. Goldfinger gloats, explaining that Bond is on a table of pure gold, with a laser designed to cut through it. Bond warns that 008 will pick up where he left off. Goldfinger doesn’t care, he just wants Bond to die. Bond racks his mind to think of something and recalls “Operation Grand Slam”, something he overheard when Goldfinger was talking to Ling. Goldfinger orders the laser beam turned off; he doesn’t know how much Bond knows. He has 007 knocked out again.

When Bond awakens this time, he’s aboard Goldfinger’s private jet, piloted by Pussy Galore, the head of an all-woman squad of stunt flyers. She’s flying Bond to Goldfinger’s ranch in Kentucky. There’s he’s through into a cell until Goldfinger can figure out what to do with him. Bond manages to break out of the cell and learns the details about Operation Grand Slam, an attempt to rob Fort Knox of its gold with the help of several mobs of organized crime. The plan involves gassing the inhabitants of Fort Knox and its surrounding area with the nerve gas, Delta-9. The mobsters make their decisions, with one deciding not to be involved. The others make their arrangements. Goldfinger has all of them killed; the ones who agreed to help by gassing them with Delta-9. The lone holdout is killed by Oddjob.

Goldfinger’s plan has one major flaw. The sheer mass of gold in Fort Know would require two weeks to move by hand and two hundred trucks to carry the bricks away. Goldfinger is well aware of the problem. His plan isn’t theft but exploiting supply and demand. He has a dirty nuclear bomb, low explosion but high radiation, to irradiate the gold, making it untouchable for centuries and driving up the value of the rest of the gold in the world.

Pussy notices Leiter and his assistant spying and points it out to Goldfinger, who suggest that Bond be brought out and treated well. When Goldfinger leaves, Pussy takes Bond around the farm, showing him the various buildings, including the barn. After a tussle in the hay, Bond is brought back to Goldfinger.

The day Operation Grand Slam begins, Pussy and her Flying Circus begins the assault by flying over Fort Knox, spraying the area. Troops fall in waves, leaving a clear path to the gates of Fort Knox. The laser is used to cut through the steel doors before the vault. The bomb and Bond are taken down to the heart of the vault and the timer set.

As it turns out, during their roll in the hay, Bond convinced Pussy to pass a message on to Leiter. The gas was switched out to something harmless. Not one soldier died. The order is given, commando tactics only, no open gunfire until the bomb is secure. Goldfinger shuts the vault door, leaving Bond, Oddjob, and Ling trapped inside. Ling panics and tries to get past Oddjob to deactivate the bomb, only to be thrown to his death. Bond manages to escape from the cuffs keeping him connected to the bomb.

Oddjob recognizes the threat Bond represents to the success of Grand Slam and rushes downstairs to stop the spy from defusing the bomb. A fight breaks out. Bond is outclassed by Oddjob’s strength and skill, but the Korean only has one hat. Bond gives Oddjob pause when he picks it up. Bond misses, embedding the bowler into metal bars. Oddjob decides to retrieve the bowler to use against Bond, but 007 electrifies the bars as the Korean grabs the hat.

The bomb’s timer is still ticking downward. Bond gets the device open but doesn’t know how to stop the countdown or defuse the bomb. Leiter’s expert races down to the device and pulls the critical part out. The timer stops at 007 seconds left. However, Goldfinger has escaped.

Bond is put on a flight to meet the President to be thanked for his work stopping the plot. However, the flight crew has been replaced. Goldfinger appears, gun drawn, ready to kill Bond. The spy asks about Pussy. As Goldfinger waves towards the cockpit, Bond attacks. The gun goes off, shattering the aircraft’s window. Goldfinger is sucked through the window to his death. Bond and Pussy escape the crashing plane and wait for not-so-immediate rescue.

The film gets into the details of the mission in Mexico, specifically the destruction of the heroin manufacturing. Instead of running into someone from his past, Bond is put on to Goldfinger by M via Leiter. The card game plays out similarly, otherwise, though in less detail. Same with the round of golf. In prose, the golf game can be paced as needed. In film, golf takes time to feel right, more time than a film has.

Jill’s death in the novel was away from Bond; he was unaware until Tilly told him what happened. In the movie, he’s the one who discovers the gold body. Tilly herself dies earlier than in the book, though by the same means – death by razor bowler hat. It’s just Bond learning about the assault on Fort Knox.

Bond in the movie pointed out the main problem with the novel’s version of Operation Grand Slam – the sheer mass of gold to be moved. Even with Goldfinger arranging for a train, he still has to move several tons of gold. Irradiating the gold means making it unusable, raising the value of the gold Goldfinger does have.

The novel is definitely a product of its time and author. Ian Fleming was a British imperialist, and that view showed through the 007 novels. The Russians were brutes, the East Germans moreso, the Americans too enamored with their tech. It gets worse in the novel. Koreans were treated as subhuman. The film just has Goldfinger using Koreans for his personnel, with no mention of his beliefs about them.

It gets worse with Tilly and Pussy. Tilly in the novel was a lesbian, more interested in Pussy than Bond. Her decision to run to Pussy instead of staying near Bond gets Tilly killed. In the movie, Tilly is focused on revenge and never meets Pussy, deftly avoiding a subject that was kept under wraps during the Sixties in mainstream films. With Pussy, in the novel, she was the leader of an all-lesbian gang out of Detroit. The film changes that with her all-woman Flying Circus, pulling her out of the meeting with the gangs but keeping her around. Film Pussy may or may not be a lesbian and could be bi, and becomes the agent delivering Bond’s message, instead of a nameless off-stage cleaner. This keeps Bond active in his own rescue. His roll in the hay with Pussy also avoids a major issue about her background. As mentioned, Fleming was a British imperialist. He didn’t hold American is high regard, and Americans in the South even lower.

Commentary : The Bond formula is in place but not perfected yet. The film has the villainous heavy in Oddjob, stronger than Bond but still can be defeated with skill. Without Oddjob, there would be no Tee Hee, no Gobinda, and no Jaws. The assault on the villain’s base isn’t quite there, but the elements have been sown with the US Army attacking Goldfinger’s troops.

Bond’s Aston Martin DB V is the iconic car from the movies, more than the Bentley is in the novels. Bond does get other cars later in the film series, kitted out, but Goldfinger began the trend. The personal gadgets aren’t quite there, but they are coming. The Aston Martin V8 in The Living Daylights and the V12 Vanquish in Die Another Day updated the Q-installed extras to modern equivalents, like swapping the tire slashers for laser beams.

Pussy Galore almost had her name changed thanks to American censors. The filmmakers countered that if a ten year old knew that the name didn`t refer to a cat, it’s on the parents of the kid, not the film. Interestingly, another mobster, Jack Strap, became nameless in the film. The only mobster named is Mr. Solo, the lone holdout. This name would become a point of contention with the production staff of The Man from UNCLE, where Fleming also came up with the name of “Napoleon Solo* for the lead character.

Jill Masterson’s death, while shocking in the film, doesn’t have a medical basis. Urban legends abound, though. The Mythbusters tested this in their third pilot episode; the result was the myth was busted but Jamie Hyneman did report a slight flu-like feeling and had increased blood pressure.

Goldfinger is the prototypical 007 film and performed well at the box office. The Bond formula wasn’t quite fixed by this point, but the elements were there and the audience ready for the ride.

This article was originally published at THE REMAKE ZONE.

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