Beyond the Cover: Goldfinger (1964)

I know this is extremely late, but I didn’t feel right not sharing this (even though i was really sick) so here is what I was going to share with the Beyond the Cover Blogathon hosted by Now Voyaging and Speakeasy

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Like many movies adapted from books, I didn’t realize that Goldfinger was adapted from a novel until I’d already watched the movie many times. Goldfinger was released in 1964 as the third film in the James Bond franchise and is considered the film that really made James Bond a global phenomenon.

It was about two years ago when I read the Goldfinger novel itself for the first time. It was published in 1959 and was…interesting, to say the very least. To read any of Ian Fleming’s Bond novels, I always have to remind myself that he lived and wrote in a different era, when…certain words that I won’t repeat….were considered acceptable. That being said, it IS a good story.

As far as the general plot goes, the Goldfinger film is strikingly faithful to the book (I repeat, in general, not quite in all the specifics), but I thought I would list some of the differences.

Perhaps the biggest difference is that in the book, Bond identifies Goldfinger as being part of the sinister SPECTRE organization. The reason he travels around the continent in his fancy car is to drop off bars of gold at various locations so that SPECTRE agents can pick them up and use them to finance their evil deeds. In the film, by contrast, no relationship with SPECTRE is ever implied, and Goldfinger is made out to be an extremely greedy man who is only out for himself.

And then there’s Pussy Galore, one of the most memorable Bond girls to ever grace the silver screen. In the film, she is mysteriously “immune” to Bond’s charms for most of the story, but she finally “gives in” in a sequence that as become more uncomfortable to watch the older I’ve become. The film doesn’t give an explanation as to why Pussy is so adept at resisting Bond’s charms, but the book certainly does: in the original novel, Pussy Galore is the lesbian leader of a gang (explains a lot about her doesn’t it?) In fact, in the book, Pussy seemingly strikes up a relationship with a girl that Bond rescued earlier (Tilly Masterson, she dies in the film, but lives in the book).

Goldfinger’s lead henchman Odd Job also has an expanded role in the novel, which gives a complete description of his karate techniques (one scene shows Odd Job splitting a huge fireplace mantel in half, a technique that impresses Bond so much that he feels compelled to shake Odd Job’s hand, even though he is the enemy). Following that, there is a disturbing scene where Goldfinger discovers a cat has mysteriously messed up the hidden camera that had been filming Bond previously (this all takes place at Goldfinger’s country estate in England, a place the film refers to but never visits). Before Bond’s eyes, Goldfinger takes the cat, throws it to Odd Job and says “Here Odd Job, something for dinner!” (How gruesome!)

If you like the Goldfinger film, you will probably also like the Goldfinger book, just be aware that Ian Fleming can use some….let’s say vulgar language that wouldn’t be acceptable in today’s society.

Hope you enjoyed this,even though it’s so late!

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