20 July 1999 | ToldYaSo
The superlative James Bond film
First of all, I must state for the record, Sean Connery is THE James Bond. Even though the first Bond film I ever saw was "For Your Eyes Only" with Roger Moore. I was very young and very much drawn in. I have seen every one of the Bond films and without a doubt, "Goldfinger" is the finest the 007 saga has to offer.
Before I had begun an appreciation of the Connery films, i.e. before I'd seen them, a good friend and cartooning mentor, Ross Paperman, sorted me out. He helped me see how Connery's Bond was suave and sophisticated but also demonstrated a quality the other Bonds do not portray: fear. Not a panicky soil-your-pants kind of fear, mind you. But Connery's Bond actually has a few anxious, sweat-soaked-brow moments. A perfect example is when Bond is strapped to a table as Goldfinger's captive with a laser beam primed to cut him in half. 007 has to think fast. "Do you expect me to talk?" "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!" A famous scene and line from Bond's most enjoyable film.
Perhaps what makes the earlier films more enjoyable is that they had fresh, innovative elements that have now become cliché and gimmicky. The new films are often stale and already covered ground and they don't even appear to be trying anymore.
But it's more than that. Even watching "Goldfinger" today, having seen all the latest in special effects and technology that Hollywood has to offer, it still is riveting and thoroughly entertaining. That is also without the added advantage of being overly nostalgic about "Goldfinger". How could I? I hadn't even been born when it first hit theaters, and it was far from my first 007 experience. The story, the characters and the fun of "Goldfinger" is timeless and if given a chance could probably rope in a whole new generation of fans. It just doesn't seem likely to happen.
Much of the satire from the Austin Powers films is directly derived from the Connery films, especially "Goldfinger" and "Dr. No", proving their lasting effect on popular culture. As well, John Barry's scores from the Connery films are finding their way into the ears of a new generation through pop music as snippets from his soundtracks are sampled by such artists as Robbie Williams, Mono and Curve, to name a few.
But if by some fluke you read this and you haven't seen "Goldfinger" yet, do yourself right and acquaint yourself with the real James Bond. You'll probably be hooked by the time you hear Shirley Bassey's voice in the famous opening theme.