Friday, November 16, 2012


What I suspected was right - now that I'm used to the rhythms of the Connery era, Goldfinger went down easy, easier than the two previous. People have a tendency (and I made this mistake too) of watching it as a standalone exercise because it has the best reputation of all the films, and that's just not a great idea, because it is still relatively slow, it's just that it's not nearly as slow as the first two movies. But it's pretty great, and it feels like basically all of the mistakes have been ironed out. The second act isn't problematic like it was in the first two movies, and I think it's because Goldfinger himself plays such a prominent role. There's no mystery like with Dr. No (where the plot sort of revolved around the question, seriously, what the fuck is this guy's problem?) and there isn't the distance between villain and Bond that there is in From Russia With Love. You know Goldfinger is the bad guy, and you know he's a slimy fuck, and you watch Bond and him do this winking, knowing dance around these facts until it finally resolves into the 3rd act.

Sexist/Racist - this is possibly a controversial opinion, but I think this is the first one that's more racist than sexist. It's still plenty sexist (this is the movie where this happens:)

But Pussy Galore is the first Bond girl, in my estimation, that approaches smart and capable territory. Not only is she a pilot, but she heads a legion of women pilots that play a key role in the plot. And Honor Blackman really gives her a sharp little edge so she doesn't immediately dissolve in a puddle at the thought of Bond's (likely diseased) wiener. Her capitulation scene is deeply problematic, but we'll get back to that later.

On the other hand, the film isn't as overtly racist as Dr. No, but it has a subtle racism that I think is more insidious. You've got the Korean Oddjob, who speaks only in grunts, and the movie (and Harold Sakata's seriously creepy performance, where when he's not being actively violent, he has this incredibly weird smile that he flashes constantly) implies pretty strongly that he's mentally challenged. But besides that, you also have Goldfinger's legion of Korean henchmen. There's a scene where Bond does perhaps the dumbest fakeout in the history of fakeouts; he's in a cell in Goldfinger's lair, and he does the "elevator gag" where he pretends to be going down in an elevator by ducking behind the door. AND THE KOREAN GUARD FALLS FOR IT. Later, after they recapture Bond, you see basically the entire team of Korean guards keeping him captive, all of them inside the cell to keep Bond from faking them out again. I mean, the movie *strongly* implies that Koreans are seriously fucking stupid, just as a general rule. So that's why I'm giving this my racist stamp.

The male fantasy that Bond represents gets a lot of play for his boozing and his womanizing, and those are nice things, but the thing that really sets Bond apart from, really, any good-looking dipshit broheim in that department, and the thing that I think is underappreciated, is the clothes. There's the tux, of course, that's iconic, but every single thing Bond wears is fucking amazing. He wears this when he plays golf against Goldfinger:

I mean, look at that. That is the swankiest golf outfit ever. Even the clothes he wears to sleep make him look like a million bucks. This is, I think, the single most important part of the Bond lifestyle, and the part that most people overlook.

One of the things I noticed about the first two flicks is how much they relied on the Bond theme to give you musical cues. It's basically their only trick - Bond does something vaguely cool, Bond theme plays. This movie takes that to a ridiculous degree, but instead of the Bond theme it's Shirley Bassey's song, the instrumental version. Now, I love that song (as any living, breathing human does) but it's pretty distracting when it constantly plays, I mean really, constantly, because it's motherfucking impossible not to sing the words.

Bond beds two women - the rando who gets painted gold and dies of "skin suffocation" because, really, fuck science, and Pussy Galore, another hybrid Bond girl/villain girl. And, I'm not sure how else to put this, but Bond basically rapes her. The movie would suggest otherwise, of course, but by any reasonable modern reading of the scene, it's rape. They do this flirty/dangerous thing where they alternate throwing each other to the ground (in a cool wrestling move way, not a abusive way, don't get me wrong) but eventually Bond overpowers her and basically forces himself on her using his strength and bulk. And she capitulates, because they all do, and she eventually becomes his post-plot lover (that's a Bond trope, that after he's defeated the bad guy he beds the girl one last time before the credits roll) but, look, he pretty clearly raped her. I go into this marathon with open eyes about its retrograde perspective on male/female relations, and I accept that things like this happen in the Bond universe, but I understand if something like this is just too high of a hill to climb, especially for women. Things will get better in increments as we go along.

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