This is Why Goldfinger Is the Best In the Franchise

James Bond is a character created by British writer Ian Fleming and later made into a series of successful movies. Several famous actors played James Bond, bringing the character to life. In the third movie, Goldfinger, James Bond is played by Scottish actor Sean Connery.

Shirley Easton / Sean Connery and Gert Fröbe / Sean Connery and Honor Blackman / Sean Connery.
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When the third movie, Goldfinger was released, Bond was already a famous spy, and everybody knew how he liked his drinks prepared. Bond was an attractive spy who was fond of the ladies. Goldfinger is a classic hit where all other Bond movies were measured against.

A Stranger Inspired Goldfinger

Ian Fleming wrote Goldfinger the seventh title in the series of his spy novels in 1956, and it was inspired by a stranger. Fleming was on vacation in an English health spa called Enton Hall when he encountered a gold broker, and it sparked his interest.

Ian Fleming on the beach near Goldeneye, his Jamaica home.
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Fleming and the stranger had an in-depth conversation and he learned all about the gold trade and three years later he would go on to write Goldfinger because of a conversation with a stranger he had, had which started an idea in his head about his next Bond Novel.

Bassey Sang Three Bond Songs

Shirley Bassey is a Welsh diva with an incredible voice and sang the theme song for Goldfinger. The song was written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley and composed by John Barry. It’s hard to think of Goldfinger without hearing the beautiful voice of Bassey.

Welsh singer Shirley Bassey performs live on stage circa 1995.
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Bassey sang three songs for Bond movies and was the only singer to perform more than one theme song. The movies were Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, and Moonraker. Goldfinger went on to sell more than a million copies in the US and was loved worldwide.

Sean Connery was in High Demand

Sean Connery was a sought-after actor; Bond had made him a big star and he was feeling the pressure. Connery wasn’t only making one Bond movie a year, but he was also starring in other films in between making Bond movies and forced to turn down a lot of roles.

Sean Connery poses as James Bond next to his Aston Martin DB5.
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Connery acted in the Hitchcock movie Marnie as well as Women of Straw during his time off from filming “From Russia with Love” and “Goldfinger.” Connery wanted to show that he was more than Bond and it meant he had taken a lot on and even had to turn down roles.

Goldfinger Spoke German

The producer Cubby Broccoli chose German actor Gert Fröbe to play Auric Goldfinger and Director Guy Hamilton agreed. However, when Hamilton discovered that Fröbe couldn’t speak English, he decided not to fire him but instead found a way to make it work.

Sean Connery as James Bond and German actor Gert Fröb as Auric Goldfinger.
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Hamilton hired actor Michael Collins to voice Gert’s parts, and it worked out as Collins was able to impersonate Gert well. Hamilton said, “He had a dialogue coach, and he studied his scene very hard. I made a point of not making them too long and had lots of cuts.”

Orson Welles was a Favorite

Originally Orson Welles was a favorite to play the villain Auric Goldfinger, however, he was too expensive to hire. Welles had written, directed and starred in Citizen Cane; a movie regarded as one of the greats. Gert Fröbe was chosen, and it turned out he was just as expensive.

Orson Welles in a scene from the film 'The Third Man.'
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Fröbe felt like he deserved more money when he realized what a big deal the movie would be and with the producers hiring a dialogue coach it might have worked out cheaper to cast Orson Welles as Auric Goldfinger after all.

Bond Had a Buzzsaw Between his Legs

The most memorable scene in Goldfinger was when Bond was almost cut in half with a laser, Bond was strapped to the table and Villainous Auric Goldfinger watched as a laser slowly moved up Bonds’ legs. However, in the book, it was a buzzsaw that was used.

 as Auric Goldfinger and Sean Connery as James Bond looking up at the laser beam.
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The producers felt the Buzzsaw was outdated, and a laser would be a more modern weapon for that time. The tense and nail-biting battle scene was meant to be filmed at the gates of Fort Knox, but it was decided it would be more of an epic moment to film in the vault.

The Myth about Shirley Easton

Played by Shirley Easton, Jill Masterson was Goldfinger’s sidekick and helped him cheat at the cards. When Masterson fell in the dashing 007 arms, the evil Goldfinger had her killed, not in any ordinary way, he had her painted with gold and she died of ‘Skin asphyxiation.”

A movie still of Shirley Easton and Sean Connery in bed.
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An urban legend was created and spread like wildfire that Masterson had died in real life because of being painted in gold. It didn’t help that after the movie she quit acting although it’s just a myth and is not true at all, painting your body with gold won’t cause suffocation.

Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore

The producers already knew whom they wanted to star as Pussy Galore, the sexy and sophisticated partner of Goldfinger and crime partner in the ‘Operation Grand Slam”. Honor Blackman was the one that Hamilton wanted for the role of Pussy Galore.

A shot of Honor Blackman smiling at the camera.
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Blackman already had experience in an active role because she was starring in the TV series, Avengers and was familiar with Judo. The actress went on to say, “there was hardly anybody else about that was right for it as me.” It was a good match, and she was praised for the portrayal of Galore.

Shirley Bassey Almost Fainted

Shirley Bassey’s vocals were breathtaking in the Goldfinger theme song, she almost lost her breath and passed out near the end of the night. During the performance, she was admired because of how she never missed hitting any of the high notes.

Shirley Bassey performs on stage during the John Barry Memorial Concert.
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Bassey recalled the moment saying, “I was holding and holding it.” She recalled how she tried to keep going, “I was looking at John (Barry) and I was going blue in the face and he’s going, ‘Hold it just one more second.’ When it was finished, I nearly passed out.”

Bond Wins an Oscar

James Bonds movies had never won an Oscar until Goldfinger in 1965, Norman Wanstall a British sound editor worked on the movie, his work had such an impact that he won an Oscar at the Academy Award for Best Sound Editing.

Shirely Easton covered in gold laying on a red sofa.
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James Bond movies went on to win four more Academy Awards. John Stears won for Best Visual Effects for the Thunderball movie, Karen Baker Lander and Per Hallberg for Sound Editing, and Adele and Paul Epworth for Original Song in Skyfall.

Israel Banned ‘Goldfinger’

Gert Fröbe was a former member of the Nazi Party in Germany. During the filming of Goldfinger, there was a reference to Auric Goldfinger betting his bar of ‘lost’ Nazi Gold. When Israel discovered that in real life, Fröbe was a member of the Nazi party, they banned the movie.

A black and white still of Gert Fröbe wearing a little smirk on his face.
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After two months, Israel reversed the ban when they learned that Fröbe was not a Nazi and had helped a Jewish woman and her family during World War II. Fröbe has appeared in 100 movies but is best known for his role as the Villain Goldfinger in the 1965 film.

The Stuntman was Arrested

Capungo was a fictional character in Goldfinger, and an assassin working for a heroin smuggler Mr. Ramirez and portrayed by Alf Joint in the 1964 movie. In the movie, Bond electrocutes him in a bathtub because he tries to kill him, however, Joint wasn’t the first choice for the part.

Sean Connery as 'James Bond' rehearsing stunts scenes with Alf Joint.
Photo by Larry Ellis/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Alf Joint was hired after the actor who was cast got arrested the day before production because he was a cat burglar. Unfortunately for Jolt, he was badly burnt when a hot coil got tangled on his leg. The screams in the film are authentic because he was in agony.

Oddjob’s First Role

The Japanese- American professional wrestler/weightlifter’s first-ever screen role was when he played Oddjob. The success of the movie and the praise he got for his acting encouraged him to do more acting. He played in television, movies, and even commercials.

Harold Sakata throwing his hands up in the air during one of the film’s scenes.
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He appeared in The Poppy is Also a Flower (1966), directed by Terence Young. The movie was produced by the United Nations and written by Ian Fleming. All the stars of the movie only received $1 and Young left the set of Thunderball to direct it.

In the Book, Pussy was a Lesbian

In the novel by In Fleming, Pussy Galore is a lesbian and this is the reason she doesn’t fall for Bonds’ charms. Fleming based Pussy Galore’s character on his neighbor and lover ‘Blanche Blackwell.’ The character’s first name ‘Pussy’ is named after Fleming’s pet octopus.

Sean Connery holding Honor Blackman close to him.
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Flemings’ octopus was quite the muse as it inspired the title of a James Bond movie and a short story named ‘Octopussy’. The name was something special to Fleming as he was given a coracle by Blackwell as a thank you for saying in Fleming’s estate on Oracabessa Bay.

Fake Exotic Locations

A lot of the exotic locations in Goldfinger were fakes and the hotel sets were built in Pinewood studio in England. The movie didn’t have the luxury budget that some later Bond movies did, so the crew had to improvise. Hamilton used stand-ins in different locations to preserve money.

The entrance gate of Pinewood Film Studios in the UK.
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At the beginning of the production, only a few props were brought to Miami for the scene with Goldfinger and his sidekick Jill Masterson. The lead actors weren’t flown over to do the scene, instead, Hamilton chose some unknown extras to stand in for the stars.

The Aston Martins

James Bond likes cars and the two Aston Martins in the movie were specially created. Later, they both were sold, a private collector paid $4 million in 2010 for the car and the other one was sold in 1986 to another collector for a bargain of $250,000, unfortunately, the car was stolen.

A waxwork of Sir Sean Connery posing with an Aston Martin DB5.
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The car was parked in Boca Raton in Florida at an airport in 1997 when it got stolen. The robbers broke into Boca Raton airport, which was guarded, but they somehow managed to go undetected and start the car without the keys and it has never been found since.

Do you want to Know a Secret?

James Bond threw shade at the Beatles during the Goldfinger movie. Sean Connery as Bond said that drinking Dom Perignon above thirty-eight degrees Fahrenheit would be “almost as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs.”

Paul McCartney laying on a sofa.
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Paul McCartney didn’t take offense as he later went on to contribute to the theme song to Live and Let Die with his band Wings. Ringo Starr, the Beatles’ drummer married Barbara Bach, who starred in the Bond movie, The Spy Who Loves Me.

Sean Connery Wore a Toupee

The actor’s hair started thinning when he was only 21 years old. During filming, this was an issue as Bond’s hair wasn’t supposed to be thinning. In the films Dr. No and From Russia with Love, special effects were used to hide the fact that Connery’s hair was thinning.

Honor Blackman and Sean Connery leaning towards each other.
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In Goldfinger though, special effects weren’t enough because Connery had started to go bald. It was the first Bond film where he started wearing a Toupee piece to cover it up. Luckily it didn’t fall off and stayed in place during filming as Goldfinger was quite an action-packed movie.

There was a New Director

Terence Fisher had directed “Dr. No” and “From Russia with Love,” so it was natural to assume he would stay on and direct Goldfinger. Fisher had contributed to work to the movie pre-production but decided he wasn’t going to work any longer on the Bond movies and stepped away.

Film director Guy Hamilton squinting his eyes.
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Guy Hamilton had been a favorite to direct Dr. No and when Fisher left, he took over directing the Bond franchise. Hamilton decided to join the crew and went on to be involved in four of the hugely popular movies and his career skyrocketed after his involvement in the franchise.

Michael Caine Knew the Score

The actor didn’t appear in the movies, but he was the first person to hear the completed score by John Barry. Caine and Barry were friends and were living together at the time. Caine was staying in Barry’s spare room in London because he and his roommate Terence Stamp were evicted.

Michael Caine wearing a black raincoat and holding a black telephone receiver.
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Caine ended up staying at John Barry’s for a couple of months, during one of their many sleepless nights Barry finished and played the iconic composition for Caine. It was the first time he performed it for anyone, and Caine had the pleasure of being the first person to hear the iconic tune.

Fort Knox Was a Knock Off

The creation of the replica Fort Knox set at Pinewood was very realistic, bearing in mind that no one was allowed inside the real Fort Knox because of security reasons the creators had to use their imagination. The set looked so authentic that 24-hour guards were stationed outside.

A still from the film featuring Gert, Harold and Sean Connery.
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The guards were placed outside the Fort Knox replica in Pinewood Studios so that thieves wouldn’t get any ideas and think the prop gold bars were real and steal them. Auric Goldfinger’s 3-D model of the map used for ‘Operation Grand Slam’ is now exhibited at the real Fort Knox.

The Switch Was Upside Down

Sean Connery filmed his parts in England and never traveled to the United States, every scene he filmed that seemed to be in the USA was just in the Pinewood Studios near London. During the scene where Bond finds the golden corpse of Jill, Bond flips the switch down instead of up.

Sean Connery sitting beside Shirley Easton who is painted in gold.
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American light switches are flicked up to turn them on, but British ones are flicked down, this was the only clue that Connery was in England and not America. Director Guy Hamilton said that Cec Linder (Felix) was the only actor from the movie that was in America.

Sixty Women in Gold

Sean Connery was unable to attend the world premiere of Goldfinger that was held in Leicester Square in London on September 17th, 1964, because he was filming The Hill (1965). When Sean Connery appeared for the premiere in France, he was in for quite a shock.

Sean Connery wearing a brown suit and holding a bottle of champagne in his hands.
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Connery drove an Aston Martin DB5 down the Champs-Elysees as a promotional stunt for Goldfinger. Sixty women were painted in gold just like Shirley Eaton’s character, however, one woman got into the car and harassed him, Connery stopped attending Bond premieres for two years after the incident.

Ian Fleming Went to The Set

Ian Flemings liked to frequent the set of the Bond movies; he visited the first two movies in the franchise Dr. No, and From Russia with Love. He visited the set at Pinewood Studios in London, where they were filming the iconic Fontainebleau hotel scene.

Sean Connery and Ian Fleming on the set of
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Unfortunately, Ian Fleming died a month before the release of Goldfinger on August 12, 1964. The talented author and journalist and the creator of world-famous spy movies. Dying from a heart attack, Fleming was just 56 at the time and was in Kent, England.

Some Footage was Borrowed

In the opening sequence of the movie, some footage was used from “Dr. No” and “Russia with Love,” such as the helicopter chase and the Crab Key explosion from ‘Dr. No (1968). Margaret Nolan, who starred as Dink was glided in gold and appeared in the sequences.

The helicopter chase scene from Dr. No.
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The scenes in the opening titles are projected onto Nolan’s body which was wearing a blue bikini and glided in gold; the image was also featured on the soundtrack cover. Nolan’s appearances lasted longer than Shirley Eaton’s appearances throughout the movie.

Modernist Erno Goldfinger

Ian Fleming loosely based the villain Goldfinger on his 1959 novel and later film on modernist architect Erno Goldfinger. When Erno learned that Fleming had used his name, he threatened to sue the publisher of Flemings novel to put a stop to the publication.

Hungarian architect and designer Erno Goldfinger
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The publisher then contacted and suggested to Fleming that would he consider changing the name of the villainous ‘Goldfinger’ and renamed the novel to something different. Fleming said he would if he could change it to ‘Goldprick.’ The matter was quickly settled with Erno out of court.

There was Almost Another Lawsuit

Sean Connery injured his back while filming the movie, it was during the fight scene with Oddjob, the henchman for Goldfinger. Oddjob and Bond were fighting in Fort Knox and Connery hurt his back which delayed filming. Sean Connery decided to use the injury to his advantage.

Sean Connery and Harold Sakata fighting each other in the film.
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Instead of suing for obtaining his injury onset Connery had an argument with the producers over the incident, which led to his contract being rewritten, and included in the new contract was a clause that meant that Connery would receive 5% from all future Bond movies.

The Movie was Aired on US Television

Goldfinger was the first bond movie that was aired on American commercial television in 1972. It was rated as one of the biggest movies to air on television during that time by Nielsen. A whopping forty-nine percent of viewers tuned in to see the exclusive movie that night.

Sean Connery holding a beverage and looking at the camera.
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ABC was the one to air the much sought-after Bond movie and had the privilege of retaining the sole rights to the commercial television airing of the James Bond film series which had viewers flocking and they held the right for the next twenty-eight years after Goldfinger.

It Could have been Kitty Galore

Studio executives were worried that about the name Pussy Galore as their target market was for youths. The United Artists considered using Kitty Galore as they had left out Pussy Galore in all their trading cards when the movies were first released.

A 007 Spy Files card featuring Pussy Galore.
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Instead, they decided to stick to the original name of Pussy Galore and they released cards alongside the “007 Spy Files” in 2002 and purposely added the cards with the original character name as it was decided the right decision was to stick to the known name of the character.

Some of the Stars Passed

Sadly, some of the main stars of the movies have died; Honor Blackman who played Pussy Galore died at the age of 94 of natural causes. She had a career that spanned over eight decades. Margaret Nolan who was painted in gold for the opening credits died at age 76.

Honor Blackman visits 'The Name's Bond' exhibition.
Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

Nolan was a model and made an appearance in the Beatles movie ‘A Hard Day’s Night.’ She died at her home in London surrounded by family. Sean Connery, the Scottish actor who famously played Bond and appeared in seven of the spy thrillers died at 90 peacefully at home in the Bahamas.

Q’s Character took a Turn

Q, also known as Major Boothroyd appeared in “Dr. No” and From Russia with Love, however, when he starred in Goldfinger, his character took a new direction. Desmond Llewelyn who starred as the character was originally known as ‘M’ and more serious.

Desmon Llewelyn standing next to James Bond’s car.
Photo by Wolfgang Weihs/Getty Images

When Guy Hamilton took over directing from Terence Young, the character took a different turn as Hamilton told Llewelyn to add some humor. This was the start of the well-known humorous antagonism between Q and Bond and continued throughout the other films

Oddball Couldn’t Speak

Harold Sakata, who played Oddball in the movie rarely spoke in the movie. He made sounds such as “Aha!” when he was on the golf course, two other sounds when he said “ahs” to order men to pick up Tilly after she was hit on the head by his hat.

Harold Sakata and Gert Frobe on the set of Goldfinger.
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He also grunted when he handed Bond a gas mask when in the back of the army truck, and a scream that he made at the end of the fight with Bond. Sakata’s character Oddball was unable to speak in the movie because he was said to be born with a cleft palate.

The Original Choice was a Jaguar

The Aston Martin DB5 was not the first choice for the spy car. It was the E-Type Jaguar and it cost half as much as the Aston Martin. Ken Adams, the production designer drove the Jaguar model. Jaguar had declined to make the cars for the Bond movies.

A Jaguar E-TYPE car on display.
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Instead, the producers approached David Brown who agreed to make the Aston Martins. Brown gave them two prototypes of the recently released Aston Martin D85, one was upgraded to add gadgets and new features by Ken Adam and the other was used for straight driving.

Jack Turned Down the Role

The producer asked Jack lord, to return to the movie Goldfinger as CIA Agent Felix Leiter, but he turned down the invitation. Lord had played the part in Dr. No (1962). When the role was recast, it led to numerous different actors playing the roles throughout the rest of the Bond movies.

A closeup of Jack Lord.
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It was only David Hedison and Jeffrey Wright who played the role more than one time. In Goldfinger. Austin Willis was originally cast as Felix Leiter and Simmons was played by Cec Linder; however, they were asked if they could switch parts not long before production started.

Tilly Masterson’s Mustang

Tilly Masterson played by Tania Mallet’s car was the first Ford Mustang to appear in a movie. The Ford Mustang was released in April 1964 and Goldfinger was released not long after in December. This wasn’t the only car that Ford supplied to the movie though.

Tilly Masterson staring at the camera.
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Ford also supplied many other cars for the movie, including CIA Agents Thunderbird, all of villain Goldfinger’s cars, as well as the Lincoln Continental that was crushed in the movie. It was a great advertisement for Ford to have so many of their cars featured in such a popular movie.

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