Goldfinger’s 45th anniversary: even Michael Jackson wanted to get into the act?

Over at, they’re running a story saying Michael Jackson had wanted to perform the song Goldfinger. The quoted source for this? None other than Shirley Bassey, who became a star performing the title song of Goldfinger, first released in the U.K. in September 1964 and in the U.S. in December of that year.

A sample of the article:

Although Michael Jackson never had the opportunity to perform Goldfinger during a concert at London’s O2 Arena, Shirley Bassey had grown close to Michael Jackson and actually looked forward to hearing the King of Pop perform her most famous of the three James Bond theme songs she provided for the legendary film franchise.

“He loved Goldfinger and had said he wanted to do Goldfinger in his next show,” revealed Bassey.

Goldfinger’s 45th anniversary: even Keith Olbermann gets into the act

Even Countdown With Keith Olbermann will remind you this is the 45th anniversary of Goldfinger.

One segment of the MSNBC news/commentary show is the “World’s Best Persons,” a kind of sequel to the program’s “World’s Worst Persons” segment. Often, the “Best Persons” segment is actually an opportunity for Olbermann to criticize.

On the Oct. 8 program, one of the “Best Persons” was Fox News commentator Glenn Beck. As described in the segment, Beck was criticizing the Obama administration’s financial policies while saying people should buy gold. Olbermann said that gold sellers buy spots on Beck’s show, suggesting this may be a conflict of interest. As this unfolded, the title song from Goldfinger could be heard.

You can take a look for yourself by CLICKING RIGHT HERE. Warning: you’ll have to watch a commercial first.

Automotive Traveler’s salute to Goldfinger

Automotive Traveler, a Web site that deals in auto-related matters, has its own salute to Goldfinger. Part of the post by Richard Truesdell deals with the sequence where 007’s Aston Martin makes short work of a brand new Ford Mustang:

“From Russia with Love” might be my favorite, “Goldfinger” was clearly the film where the series came into its own, where all the Bond elements meshed perfectly; a classic villain, great Bond babes and locations, and of course the gadgets. Nowhere is this more evident than the film’s classic set piece, the scenes of the driving duel on Switzerland’s Furka Pass between Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 and Tilley Masterson’s white 64½ Ford Mustang. They are simply a film- and car-lover’s delight. Having driven this stretch of road on several occasions–albeit in a BMW Z3 and a Chrysler Crossfire SRT6 instead of an Aston Martin DB5–I can say without equivocation that the Furka Pass road is on my short list as one of the world’s Top 10 driving roads. Driving up the valley from Andermatt, the actual location of the gas station/VW dealership where Bond drops off Masterson after their tire-shredding confrontation, it is a journey almost without equal.

And there’s this observation:

The cultural significance of the release of “Goldfinger” can never be underestimated. Think about it; in a span of less than 12 months The Beatles invaded America…twice, and on 22 December, 1964 “Goldfinger” was unleashed to an almost unsuspecting US public after its 17 September release in the UK.

The post also goes into detail about the kinds of details you can see on the Blu Ray version of the film vs. DVD or VHS. To read the entire post, just CLICK RIGHT HERE.

Goldfinger’s 45th anniversary: advertisers cash in

We were actually done with our series about Goldfinger’s 45th anniversary when we were reminded how advertisers cashed in on the third James Bond film.

For example, there was this Butterfinger commercial. (Thanks to the Rap Sheet blog for pointing this one out)

And don’t forget how Harold Sakata, who played Oddjob, was able to pick up some extra income kind of reprising the role for Vicks 44:

Happy anniversary, Goldfinger.

Goldfinger’s 45th anniversary (conclusion): the film’s legacy

This week marks the 45th anniversry of Goldfinger’s U.K. premier. What’s the film’s legacy? Try these on for size:

1. Most obvious, it was the first 007 mega-hit.

Dr. No and From Russia With Love had been successful, but Goldfinger turned 007 into a worldwide phenomenon. It set a record at the time for recouping its costs and spurred massive promotional tie-ins.

2. It was the tide that lifted all boats for 1960s spy entertainment.

Columbia, which had passed on 007 before United Artists snapped him up, and 20th Century-Fox commissioned projects with the idea of creating an “american James Bond.” The result would be four Matt Helm movies with Dean Martin and two Derek Flint films with James Coburn.

On television, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. premiered the same month as Goldfinger’s U.K. premier. The show got off to a slow start in the ratings but NBC kept it on the air and the show caught on, especially after a mid-season change in day and time slot. U.N.C.L.E., in turn, spurred network executives to commission other spy series, such as I Spy and The Wild, Wild West in 1965 and Mission: Impossible in 1966.

Goldfinger’s success also created demand for “anti-Bonds,” or serious spy stories contrasted with Goldfinger’s escapism. Within a year, John Le Carre’s The Spy Who Came in From The Cold and Len Deighton’s The Ipcress File were made into movies.

Interestingly, both utilized creative personnel from Goldfinger. One of the screenwriters who adapted Le Carre was none other than Paul Dehn, who wrote the critical later drafts of Goldfinger. The Ipcress File was produced by Harry Saltzman, co-producer of the Bond series. For the film, Saltzman hired composer John Barry, production designer Ken Adam and editor Peter Hunt.

3. It changed the Bond film series, not necessarily for the better.

After Goldfinger, Saltzman and partner Albert R. Broccoli went through a period of trying to top their 1964 hit. With Thunderball, they scored an even bigger hit, but the movie was at least faithful to Ian Fleming’s novel (which in turn was based on an earlier movie project that never got off the ground). So for You Only Live Twice, the producers threw out that novel’s plot altogether, kept a few characters and made yet another film relying on spectacle.

After an attempt to bring things back to Fleming with On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the producers again were looking for “another Goldfinger.” When Richard Maibaum was hired to adapt Diamonds Are Forever, the screenwriter obliged with a first draft featuring Auric Goldfinger’s twin brother. That approach was rejected, but it reflects how Goldfinger remained on the minds of Broccoli and Saltzman. The producers later hired Goldfinger’s director, Guy Hamilton, to work on Diamonds and again had Shirley Bassey sing the title song.

Over at the I Expect You to Die blog, the case is made that Goldfinger is only the 7th best 007 film, trailing movies such as On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, From Russia With Love and even GoldenEye. In terms of influence and impact, though, Goldfinger remains at the top of the 007 heap.

Goldfinger’s 45th anniversary (cont.): the first hit 007 song

Nearly 45 years after it was introduced, Goldfinger’s title song still resonates with the public. As we’ve written about before, the song was nearly killed because co-producer Harry Saltzman hated it. But there was no time to record a replacement. So it remained and became a big hit.

The previous 007 film, From Russia With Love, had a title song but the main titles used an instrumental version coupled with the James Bond Theme. The Matt Monro performed vocal version was used in the middle of the movie (supposedly playing on a radio) and in the end titles. Thus, Goldfinger was the first 007 to have a song play in the main titles. Goldfinger was also composer John Barry’s first opportunity to write a title song for the series. He had arranged the James Bond Theme in Dr. No and composed the dramatic music for From Russia With Love while Lionel Bart wrote that film’s title song.

This time, Barry teamed up with lyricists Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley. Meanwhile Robert Brownjohn designed titles where scenes from the movie (along with an outtake from From Russia With Love and a shot from Dr. No) were projected over actress Margaret Nolan, who played Dink in the film (the character Sean Connery slaps on the rump). The results can be seen in this video:

That’s not the end of the story, though. In 1992, an alternate version of the song surfaced as part of a CD celebrating the 30th anniversary of James Bond’s film debut. Anthony Newley, co-writer of the lyrics, had given it a try with an alternate arrangement of the music:

For John Barry, Goldfinger would become part of a spectacular career scoring movies. In 2001, Barry conducted an orchestra playing an instrumental version of the song, which sounds similar to the sequence in the film where Bond drives the Aston Martin in the Swiss Alps. Take a look:


Goldfinger’s 45th anniversary (cont.): “That buzz saw must go”

We’ve previously written about British film historian Adrian Turner’s research into the writing of the film version of Goldfinger. One of the film’s most iconic scenes had its origin with the sentence, “That buzz saw must go.” It was followed by this observation: “It’s the oldest device in cheap melodrama.”

That was part of a memo by screenwriter Richard Maibuam, who described a sequence in Ian Fleming’s 1959 novel where Bond was nearly cut in two by, you guessed it, a buzz saw. “I am dreaming up a machine that utilizes the new laser beam. It was featured in Life magazine,” the memo reads, according to Turner’s 1998 book about the making of Goldfinger.

Another problem with the novel’s sequence is the reason Goldfinger spares Bond’s life. He decides to hire our hero as his secretary. Both Maibuam, and Paul Dehn, who would write the later drafts, felt this simply didn’t work. Both men labored to come up with a semi-plausible explanation why Goldfinger didn’t just kill Bond on the spot. Decades before Austin Powers jokes (“Just shoot him!”), both screenwriters were sweating bullets on how to solve the problem.

In the end, Dehn’s final version has Bond pulling a bluff under the most difficult of conditions.

Goldfinger’s 45th anniversary: the car that changed everything

Almost 45 years ago, when Goldfinger came out, part of the attraction was James Bond’s super car, the Aston Martin DB 5. The 007 film series was never the same.

In Ian Fleming’s 1959 novel, Bond had a choice of two cars from MI6’s motor pool: an Aston Martin DB III or a Jaguar 3.4. He takes the “battleship grey” DB III which had “certain extras that may or may not come in handy.” They included reinforced bumpers for ramming and a hidden Colt .45 “in a trick compartment under the driver’s seat.”

After screenwriter Paul Dehn revamped Richard Maibuam’s early drafts, Bond gets the now-familiar DB5 from Q Branch. Its extras were considerably more sophisticated than the ones imagined by Fleming. The revamped DB V was the result of the imagination of production designer Ken Adam and special effects man John Stears.

The DB V would return in Thunderball and later (apparently as Bond’s personal car) in GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies plus something Bond wins in a poker game in Casino Royale. The Bond film series would also try to top the DB V, including a submarine car in The Spy Who Loved Me as well as tricked-out BMWs and Aston Martins in other films.

Nevertheless, the first Bond supercar came in Goldfinger. Just watch:

Later, Bond puts the car through its paces, but even the amazing automobile won’t be able to prevent Oddjob from killing the doomed Tilly, seeking revenge for the death of her sister Jill. When this film came out, there were still limits on technology:

Goldfinger’s 45th anniversary (cont.): Adapting the golf match

We’re about 10 days from the 45th anniversary of Goldfinger. One of the keys to the film was adapting an 18-hole golf match between James Bond and Auric Goldfinger. The golf match was one of the reasons why Goldfinger was Ian Fleming’s longest novels. Paring it down would help make the film version the shortest 007 movie until 2008’s Quantum of Solace.

The most significant change: we’re only shown the 17th and 18th holes of the match, plus what happens on the putting green of the 16th. Going into the last two holes everything is “all square,” so there’s plenty of tension for what’s to follow.

Other changes: in the novel, Goldfinger’s caddy is “an obsequious, talkative man called Foulks whom Bond had never liked.” For the film, it’s Goldfinger’s lead henchman Oddjob and the golf match is the audience’s first full look at him; earlier, we had only seen Oddjob’s hand as struck Bond down from behind and the villain’s shadow.

Also, in the novel, Bond’s caddie Hawker discovered how Goldfinger was cheating. Bond asks Hawker how he could possibly know. “Because his ball was lying under my bag of clubs, sir,” Hawker tells Bond. “Sorry sir. Had to do it after what he’s been doing to you. Wouldn’t have mentioned it, but I had to let you know he’s fixed you again.”

For the film, screenwriters Richard Maibuam and Paul Dehn have Bond discovering the cheating and making Hawker the Greek chorus telling us how smart 007 is.

Finally one line in the film, where Goldfinger says that golf “is not yet the national game of Korea,” has taken on a certain irony given the results of last month’s PGA tournament.

Anyway, see for yourself:

Countdown to Goldfinger’s 45th anniversary part III: even ESPN gets into the act

Goldfinger, the 007 movie about to celebrate its 45th anniversary, still is having an effect on popular culture. Consider ESPN’s Around The Horn.

On Thursday, the half-hour show of “competitive banter” featuring four sports columnists blathering about topics of the day featured a Goldfinger reference by host Tony Reali.

Reali awards points based on the arguments of the sports scribes. During a segment about a U.S.-Mexico soccer game, Reali felt some points made by Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News were too sarcastic. “Choose your next witticism carefully, it may be your last,” Reali said as he deducted points from Cowlishaw.

That, of course, is nearly a verbatim quote from Goldfinger as James Bond tries to bluff the film’s title villain. Things are a little tense. Bond is bound to a table while a laser beam is coming up between his legs.