Crunchy stats first.
Goldfinger. 1964,7.8 stars on IMDb. Oscar for Best Sound Effects. Connery’s third outing as Bond, with a bigger budget (more than the first two films combined).
GoldenEye, 1995, 7.2 stars on IMDb, nominated for a couple of Baftas, but didn’t win either. We’re introduced to a new Bond, Pierce ‘Remington Steele’ Brosnan.
Let’s start with Goldfinger then. Connery’s Bond is sent to investigate bullion magnate Auric Goldfinger (and what a brilliant name that is) and to find out how he smuggles his beloved gold out of the country. Jill Masterson gets a rather suffocating paint job, Bond gets cross, hijinks ensue and he teams up with Pussy Galore (the lovely Honor Blackman) to thwart Goldfinger’s plans to irradiate the contents of Fort Knox.
Goldfinger is quite rightly regarded as one of the better (some say the best) Bond movies. It has all the requisite components – a dastardly villain, played with panache by Gert Fröbe, who is obsessed with gold. The henchman – the incomparable Harold Sakata as Korean manservant Oddjob (also rightly regarded as one of the best Bond villains) with his killer bowler hat. The daftly-named Bond girl, Pussy Galore (how they manage to keep a straight face is beyond me). Bond gets his Aston Martin – the DB5, replete with a wonderful array of gadgets including the ejector seat. The DB5 went on to feature in five other Bond movies: Thunderball, GoldenEye (which we’ll come to later), Tomorrow Never Dies, Casino Royale and most recently, Skyfall.
It also has some wonderful lines, most famous of which is of course
Bond: Do you expect me to talk?
Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!
Apparently this was also the first time a laser appeared in a movie – they hadn’t been invented when Fleming wrote the original book – in the novel it’s a buzz-saw.
Bond also gets to start to play with more gadgets, and we get a lighter rapport with Desmond Llewelyn’s Q. In fact it’s the first time we get to see Q’s workshop.
Of the Connery-era Bond movies, it’s a close call between From Russia With Love and Goldfinger, but I think Goldfinger edges it. Throw in one of the best (if not the best) Bond theme songs, with Shirley Bassey letting rip with the title track, and you’ve got a belter of a movie.
Let’s turn our attention now to GoldenEye – the 17th Bond movie and this time introducing a new Bond. Pierce Brosnan followed Timothy Dalton’s rather dour Bond after a six-year hiatus. I rather liked Dalton’s Bond and would have liked to seen him given more of a chance. Pierce, by comparison, felt a bit… glossy at the time. We also got a new M in the form of Judi Dench, who immediately made the role her own.
M: You don’t like me, Bond. You don’t like my methods. You think I’m an accountant, a bean counter more interested in my numbers than your instincts.
Bond: The thought had occurred to me.
M: Good, because I think you’re a sexist, misogynist dinosaur. A relic of the Cold War, whose boyish charms, though wasted on me, obviously appealed to that young woman I sent out to evaluate you.
Bond: Point taken.
Various other big names show up – Sean Bean as Alec ‘006’ Trevelyan, Robbie Coltrane as Valentin Zukovsky and Alan Cumming (sporting a terrible accent, gawd love ‘im) as Boris Grishenko. The ladies are represented by Izabella Scorupco as Natalya Simonova and Famke Janssen as the implausibly named Xenia Onatopp.
Moneypenny: M authorizes you to observe Miss Onatopp but stipulates no… contact without prior approval. End transmission, Moneypenny. Good night, James. I trust you’ll stay… Onatopp of things?
The plot is rather more convoluted than Goldfinger, and I do rather hark back to the simpler days. Here we have a murky tale of a wronged Lienz Cossack, satellite weapons, hackers, and a mysterious crime syndicate known as Janus.
It does have some splendid moments. The opening bungee jump off the dam (at 220 metres it set a record for a bungee jump off a fixed structure) is utterly spectacular, only to be topped minutes later by Bond chasing a pilotless plane off a runway on a motorbike, free-falling alongside it and, of course, escaping as the base explodes and the titles roll…
There’s also a rather implausible car chase between the iconic DB5 (there it is again) and a Ferrari F355. Fun while it lasts, but don’t think too hard about the practicalities of it. Famke Janssen did her own driving stunts in the Ferrari though. Kudos.
Then there’s more motorised fun with a tank chase in and around (and sometimes through) St Petersburg.
Tina Turner puts in a sterling effort with the U2-penned title track, but was never going to best Bassey’s Goldfinger.
Overall, it’s a fun outing – Brosnan puts in a solid turn as Bond, and it’s probably the best of his four movies. He made an excellent Bond, but as with Dalton, was let down by some sub-par scripts.
So, that’s Bond – Goldfinger and GoldenEye. Which is your favourite?