Director Guy Hamilton’s Goldfinger (1964) consisted of sharp storytelling and craftsmanship. Ken Adam, the film’s set designer, recycled previous set pieces from the first silver screen Bond film, Dr. No (1962). Here they are used pragmatically for more ambitious looking designs that are distinguishable from similar action sets in the 60s.
In the very first few scenes, the scale is on full display; the intimidating silos that tower over Sean Connery’s Bond or the exquisitely shot (using a helicopter) grand hotel Bond is stationed at in Miami. Rapid intercuts during tense fight scenes, in which switch from 1st to 3rd person frequently, expand the depth of each set and enhance the tension. The world, through the lens of Bond, is much more elaborate than that of the viewer. He’s a larger than life character in a considerably more colorful world.
There are inherent problems with certain themes that the 007 movies communicate. The opening title sequence projects parts of the movie onto a, presumably nude, gold-painted female body. Honor Blackman’s character is a pilot. Yet she seems to be dressed rather uncomfortably when flying a helicopter or a plane. During the Fort Knox invasion, she can be seen flying a helicopter in heels, not to mention that the name of her character is Pussy Galore.
There’s inherent sexism ingrained in the writing, and even picked apart in dialogue. A good example comes from the first time Bond meets Galore: “My name is Pussy Galore.” After a short pause Bond speaks, “I must be dreaming.” But this is to be expected in most of the franchise, as the novels from which the films are based have the same qualities and for the time period, it wouldn’t have been noted, but it’s still problematic.
John Barry’s score and the use of familiar themes (most notably Oddjob’s) help string the narrative together. Each separate act feels cohesive. Many editing tricks are used to communicate a passage of time; from dissolves, implying a short time gap, to fades for much longer periods of time, or at the climax, after Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe) has set the timer on the bomb, when all music fades in the background to the sound of a ticking bomb.
Another trick that adds even more flavor to the nail-biting action scenes are the portions of the film where frames are sped up. The car chase in which Bond attempts to escape Goldfinger’s compound relies heavily on this tactic. Even more impressive is the ADR technique that the filmmakers employed over Fröbe’s real voice to ensure the level of immersion was kept throughout; executed to near perfection.