Spy 100, #4: Goldfinger

Hallelujah. The final James Bond movie on the list, Goldfinger (1964), has been dutifully processed. I wasn’t impressed. Actually, let me put it this way: I thought it was wretched.

Goldfinger pits smarmy superspy James Bond (Sean Connery) up against Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe), a seedy dealer in precious metals who’s clearly up to no good. Tasked with revealing Goldfinger’s evil schemes, Bond plants himself in the villain’s path, quasi-befriends him, and then finds himself neck-deep in Goldfinger’s elaborate plan to hijack the US gold reserve in Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Okay, I suppose it’s unrealistic to expect a best-of spy movie list not to lionize┬áBond. And Goldfinger is iconic stuff, not just within the franchise but within the entire genre. There’s legendary Bond girl Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman). There’s memorable adversary Oddjob (Harold Sakata). The famously tricked-out Aston Martin. The classic scene with Bond on a table, about to be bisected by a laser. That undying exchange of dialogue: “Do you expect me talk?” “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.” And the lavish Fort Knox setpiece. All of these ingredients would influence subsequent Bond movies, and spy filmdom in general, for decades to come.

But holy cow, is this a tedious yawner. Bond’s “best” film, by this list’s reckoning, is dating very, very poorly. The plot is a confused muddle. The villains’ decisions are illogical and convenient. The fight choreography is clumsy. The technological eyeball kicks have lost their luster. And my God, is Bond ever an unlikeable hero. What an entitled, sexist asshole.

The fourth best spy movie of all time? I’m not convinced it’s the fourth best Bond movie of all time. Certainly From Russia With Love (#39) and Casino Royale (#73) are superior, at the very least. Alas, the best thing about Goldfinger is that it is the last James Bond movie I will ever have to watch.

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