Countdown to Goldfinger’s 45th anniversary part II

The 45th anniversary of Goldfinger’s world premier is next month. With that in mind, here’s a list of 10 major decisions that helped shape the movie.

1. Selecting Goldfinger as the third Ian Fleming novel in the series to be filmed. Producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman weren’t going by the order the novels appeared. So they could have chosen from the likes of Diamonds Are Forever or Live And Let Die. But they didn’t.

2. Dumping the buzz saw of the novel in favor of a laser beam to menace Bond. This was one of screenwriter Richard Maibaum’s first recommendations to the producers.

3. Casting Gert Frobe, despite his inability to speak English, to play the title role. Theodore Bikel had been screen tested and writer Maibaum had recommended Victor Buono.

4. The decision to hire Paul Dehn to rewrite the early drafts by Maibuam.

5. Cutting the Bond-Goldfinger golf game to two holes. Ian Fleming’s novel described all 18 holes of the match. The film tells us it’s all even with two holes to go and we then see the two opponents try to outcheat each other. This move is one reason why Fleming’s longest novel was turned into the shortest 007 movie until 2008’s Quantum of Solace.

6. The decision to recast the role of Felix Leiter. Jack Lord, who created the film Leither in Dr. No, wanted equal billing with Sean Connery. Broccoli and Saltzman weren’t going to go for that. For better or worse, a tradition was started that would last until 1989 of a different actor playing Leiter each time.

7. Broccoli wanting the film to take the audience inside Fort Knox. The initial drafts mirrored Fleming’s novel and never made it inside the gold-storage facility. This decision enabled Ken Adam to create yet another spectacular set.

8. The decision to let composer John Barry collaborate on the title song. Barry had composed the background music for From Russia With Love but Lionel Bart did the title song.

9. The decision to keep the character name Pussy Galore. There had been talk of changing it to Kitty Galore. Somehow, it just wouldn’t have been the same.

10. The decision to have a tight production schedule. John Barry has quoted Saltzman as saying if the producers had had more time, they’d have scrapped the now-famous Goldfinger title song in favor of something else. In this instance, less time meant more.

Nominations for most harebrained 007 movie ideas

The James Bond movie series is remarkable for its longevity (47 years, albeit with a couple of notable gaps in production). But it’s also remarkable for some harebrained ideas that were seriously considered. Our list of five nominations.

1. Considering Adam West, for the role of Bond.

West, the one-time Batman, disclosed in his autobiography that he had been approached for the role in the late 1960s after Sean Connery quit the role for the first time. When we read that, we wondered if West had taken one too many blows to the head from the Riddler. However, this was verified by none other than Dana Broccoli, wife of producer Albert R. Broccoli, in the documentary Inside Diamonds Are Forever.

2. Considering James Brolin for the role of Bond

In 1982, it looked like Roger Moore had retired as 007. Producer Broccoli lined up James Brolin as a replacement. The actor’s screen tests were first publicly shown to fans at a 1994 fan convention in Los Angeles. Broccoli’s stepson, Michael G. Wilson, described Brolin’s approach as “Mid-Atlantic.”

If he meant all wet (as in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean), he was right. The actor’s screen tests were first shown publicly at a 1994 Bond fan convention in Los Angeles. Brolin’s attempt at a British accent were laughable. Meanwhile the rival Bond production Never Say Never Again was gearing up, with Sean Connery on board. Broccoli decided to pony up more money and bring Moore back for his sixth 007 outing in Octopussy.

3. Making Dr. No in the villain’s pet monkey.

Screenwriters Richard Maibaum and Wolf Mankowitz felt Ian Fleming’s Dr. No villain was too much of a stereotype. So they devised a draft where a villain had a pet monkey named Dr. No. Broccoli wasn’t amused, having spent years pursuing his dream of producing movies from Fleming’s novels. So he instructed his writers to go back to the source. Interestingly, Broccoli largely dispensed with the source material after 1969.

4. Having an ending for Goldfinger involving curtains closing.

Screenwriter Paul Dehn, having taken over for Maibuam on Goldfinger, had a draft where we’d see Bond and Pussy Galore in a clinch and then we’d see curtains close on the scene. The curtains would reopen and we’d be told what the next movie would be. In fact, this was the next-to-last draft of the script. Sean Connery, among others, thought the idea was horrible and it was dropped when the final shooting script was written.

5. Using Moonraker as a way to copy Star Wars

Rather than adapt or just update Moonraker, Broccoli and United Artists had an idea that they’d use the title as a way to exploit the Star Wars craze and….oh, wait. They did that, didn’t they? As it turned out, Moonraker ended up the most successful Bond movie up to that time, despite a budget that ran more than 30 percent its original estimate.

Goldfinger: from typewriter to screen, conclusion

Our final installment looking at UK film historian Adrian Turner’s examination of how the screenplay to Goldfinger came together.

February 3, 1964: Sean Connery now weighs in on the Goldfinger screenplay. “No longer the hunk who came cheap, Connery had become an international star…and he wanted to ensure the film suited his own interests,” Turner wrote in his 1998 book on the film.

Connery attends a meeting with producer Albert R. Broccoli and screenwriter Richard Maibuam, despite the fact that Paul Dehn wrote the most recent draft of the screenplay. Turner quotes from Maibuam’s notes of the meeting:

“Connery feels tone of script all wrong. Wants serious approach with humor interjected subtly as in other films…Connery is very much against Pussy bouncing him around….He feels Bond is overshadowed completely by Goldfinger throughout.”

Shortly thereafter: Paul Dehn now crafts a second draft, which becomes the shooting script for the film. Dehn incorporates suggestions of Broccoli, his partner Harry Saltzman, Connery, director Guy Hamilton and Maibuam. The latter suggests a tweak that is used. Dehn’s first draft had Bond remarking that someone had a “crush” on Mr. Solo (Springer in earlier drafts, which was in line with Ian Fleming’s novel) when the gangster is killed. It’s Maibaum who suggests Goldfinger saying he needs to arrange to have his gold separated from the late Mr. Solo. Bond replies that Solo had “a pressing engagement.”

September 1964: On the day of Goldfinger’s world premier, Dehn sends Maibuam a cable: “Congratulations on Goldfinger am proud to have collaborated with you.”

(Adrian Turner on Goldfinger, page 206-208, 50)


Goldfinger: from typewriter to screen Part III

We continue our look at British film historian Adrian Turner’s examination of how the Goldfinger screenplay evolved.

Late 1963: Producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman decide Richard Maibuam’s script needs work. Guy Hamilton is now aboard as director. The producers also “sensed that they needed a fresh mind” to work on the screenplay. Thus, Paul Dehn is hired.

December 23, 1964: Dehn delivers his first draft screenplay. His pre-credits sequence is similar to what we’d see in the final film. In this version, though, Bond has a fake dead dog on his head as he swims underwater. Later, Dehn brings back the Aston Martin, dispensing with the Bentley of Maibuam’s later versions. Dehn also cuts out the Bond-Goldfinger dinner (from the novel and Maibuam’s script), tightening things up by having Oddjob demonstrate the deadly qualities of his hat outside the golf club.

Dehn’s first draft had its own weaknesses, Turner wrote in his 1998 book. The Dehn draft concludes with “arch theatricality,” the film historian opines. Bond breakes the fourth wall and “sees audience,” according to Dehn’s stage directions. Curtains (!) then fall over Bond and Pussy for a moment and then are raised to reveal the couple “alone in a stupendous clinch.” The curtains fall again and we’re told the title of the next 007 film adventure.

Early 1964: Maibaum, after having been sent a copy of Dehn’s draft, sends a memo to Saltzman. Maibuam compliments some of the script but warns, “I’m concerned about the overall tone of the script. It tends to get very Englishy now and then, coy, arch, self-consciously toungue-in-cheek.” Bond, Maibuam wrote, “is just a patsy, and a comic one at that. Parts of the script sound as if it were written for Bob Hope and not Sean Connery.”

(Adrian Turner on Goldfinger, pages 197-204)