...a blog by Richard Flowers

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Day 2250: Mysteries of Doctor Who James Bond 007 Why DOES Mr Goldfinger explain Operation Grand Slam to the Hoods when he's going to kill them?


We all know that GOLDFINGER is the BEST FILM of ALL TIME.



But every now and then, as I watch it, it pains me to admit that I worry a little that some of it does not ENTIRELY make SENSE.

The bit that is hardest to get my fluffy head around is the scene on the Kentucky ranch, subtly named Auric Stud, when half the mafia gangs of America turn up to demand payment for the little jobs that Mr Auric Goldfinger has been having them do.

Mr G invites them all into his RUMPUS ROOM and proceeds to explain to them in complete detail the plan to rob the US Gold Depository at Fort Knox.

The only thing is, five minutes later he gasses the lot of them.

Would it not have been quicker to SKIP the lecture and nobble them straight away?

Daddy Richard has a PRACTICAL explanation.

What Mr Goldfinger REALLY wants to do is GAS the Hoods and get rid of them. But these are DANGEROUS CRIMINALS who are not easily lured into a CONFINED AIRTIGHT BOX.

So instead, he welcomes them into his rumpus room with its big airy windows and open doors. It does not seem DANGEROUS because there are plenty of exits and they can see anyone coming.

Then, once he has them all together, he makes his personal appearance and throws them off balance by offering them ten million dollars each in gold and then he starts playing with his KEN ADAM designed box of tricks: flipping over the billiard table to become a control panel, raising his big toy Fort Knox from the floor, and – SIGNIFICANTLY – shuttering the windows and closing the doors, all under cover of turning the spotlights on to the model.

The Hoods are alarmed, but also confused. They do not feel threatened because Mr Goldfinger is in there, alone and apparently unarmed, certainly outnumbered.

Then Mr Goldfinger does his little spiel:

"Man has climbed Mount Everest. Gone to the bottom of the ocean. He has fired rockets at the Moon. Split the atom. [Blah, blah, evil blah!] Achieved miracles in every field of human endeavour... EXCEPT CRIME!"

He puts them off their guard again and they all relax, thinking about the idea of robbing Fort Knox rather than expecting any trouble.

Now, all Mr Goldfinger needs is a PRETEXT, and handily Mr Solo provides him with one by demanding an out. Mr Solo leaves alone.

(Incidentally, you can tell that Mr Goldfinger is VERY, VERY EVIL because he squashes a PERFECTLY GOOD CAR! It is not like he even NEEDS to too, since his manservant BOB-A-JOB has ALREADY SHOT Mr Solo. In fact, maybe Bob-a-job has a wicked sense of humour since he is really only making it difficult for Mr Goldfinger to get his gold back!)

Anyway, out trots Mr Goldfinger to arrange a ton of gold and a punning death for one crook, and the others are left behind, not realising that they are now inside a BOX. One flip of a switch and it is all NERVE GAS and EXPRESSIONIST LIGHTING. Goodnight Mr Midnight, buckle up Mr Strap.

Well, that might seem like an explanation, but frankly the gangsters are all just a bit too RUBBISH to be worth the effort. Look how they just bumble around going "The gas! The gas! Urrgh! Thump!"

So, Daddy Alex has a PSYCHOLOGICAL explanation.

Daddy has spotted something so subtle it may have gone unnoticed: Mr Goldfinger is a RAVING MONOMANIAC! He loves to hear the sound of his own voice, and loves to show off just how clever he is.

Notice his several moments of SELF-CONGRATULATORY smugness throughout the film: "Oh, I own the club," he says when Bob-a-job has decapitated a statue on the golf course; "we were quite right to keep Mr Bond alive," he preens when the CIA are spotted watching the ranch; and so on.

Most importantly, guess what he says when Mr James is discovered to have been underneath the Fort Knox model:

"Operation Grand Slam," says Mr James, "I did enjoy your briefing."

"Sho did I," says Mr G with a little skip of happiness as he leaves Mr James in the hands of his guards.

That is the key to this explanation. Mr Goldfinger gives his whole lecture for the benefit of HIMSELF. He likes to show off how clever he is and how bold his plan.

Of course, following the old gold adage, if he tells you, then he has to kill you.

(In fact, the fact that Mr James is the ONLY person apart from Mr Goldfinger who knows the WHOLE plan, might also explain how, by telling someone else later, he is able to convert her to his side!)

I think that this is a GOOD explanation, but it turns out that this is not right either!

Because now we have listened to the commentary on my DVD and we know the REAL explanation.

Mr Goldfinger explains the plot… because he is in a MOVIE.

Yes, like the Mitchell and Webb's fourth wall breaking Nazi Stormtroopers, Mr Goldfinger realises that that he is the BADDIE.

And so it is down to him to do the EXPOSITION SCENE so that Mr James – and the audience! – can know what is going on!

Well, that's a bit LAME you might say, but be FAIR: the writers had been doing lots of little tweaks to Mr Fleming's original novel in order to improve things here and there. Mr James's REVERIE about a mission to Mexico becomes the EXCITING (and somewhat more EXPLOSIVE, not to mention "SHOCKING!") mini-adventure of the pre-title sequence. In the book, the fate of Jill Masterson is merely reported to Mr James once he meets her sister in Switzerland; for the film this is transformed into one of THE iconic moments of the cinema – the GOLDEN GIRL.

(And DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME, boys and girls. You may think that it is an URBAN MYTH that people suffocate if their skin is painted, but we watched a television programme recently where they tried this on a scientist and within minutes he was suffering the symptoms of anoxia!)

And Jill's sister Tilly survives rather longer as Bond's helpful sidekick with the pair of them actually being HIRED by Mr Goldfinger to help his plan.

Well, the writers of the movie wanted to turn the tables on Mr James completely at the mid-point of the film, so instead of following the book, they shock everyone by having Bob-a-job KILL Miss Tilly, and instead of Mr Goldfinger being a BIT THICK and hiring Mr James, they make him seem SUPER COOL by having him take Mr James prisoner.

As the commentary says, the logic of most films is turned upside down: instead of Mr Goldfinger being a powerful figure who Mr James gradually builds up to defeating, in Goldfinger, Mr James HUMILIATES Auric G not once, but twice in the first half, meaning that when Mr Goldfinger THEN beats him we REALLY RESPECT the car-crushing, gold-guzzling loon!

Actually, that's another thing that's NOT REALLY TRUE.

All that "He loves only gold!" bit in the theme song. It is a BLUFF!

The central CONCEIT of the film is that Mr Auric Goldfinger is ADDICTED to GOLD. Look at his NAME for goodness' sake. He even says as much to Mr James – while aiming an industrial laser at his wibbly bits.

"This is gold, Mr Bond. All my life I have been in love with it, its divine heaviness."

But this is a FIB.

Mr Goldfinger's REAL addictions are money and power. Gold is merely a means to an end: he is not interested in its acquisition for its own sake.

If he REALLY valued gold above anything else, why would he plan to NUKE so much of it in Fort Knox? He does not even take a single bar as a memento! (Though Daddy Alex has a good explanation for this too – what he calls the CHOCOLATE BAR REASON!)

No, he gives himself away when he – conservatively estimates – a ten times increase in the VALUE of his own gold.

Anyway, never mind THAT. Mr James spoils Mr Goldfinger's card scam; Mr James robs Mr Goldfinger on the gold course; and then Mr Goldfinger totally overwhelms Mr James, smashes up his WONDERFUL CAR, takes him prisoner and never lets him regain the upper hand.

Or as Daddy Richard put it: the first two are what Mr Goldfinger does in his LEISURE TIME; taking over the world is what he does PROFESSIONALLY.

This makes for a GREAT movie. Unfortunately, there is one little snag: since Mr James is no longer pretending to work for Mr Goldfinger, there is no reason for Mr Goldfinger to explain to him the PLOT!

Oh, and the book's got lots of gangsters in it too, better give them a CAMEO before we replace them with sinister Red Chinese.

And so, the rumpus room scene is born.

Now, all you need to add is Ken Adam!


Some people wonder why it only takes a BIG SNOG from Mr Sean for Mr Goldfinger's GLAMOROUS sidekick to turn over a new leaf, call in Felix Leiter and save the day.

But this is not a problem. She is OBVIOUSLY British Secret Agent MRS CATHY GALE undercover!

Who but MR STEED could put her in a position where she has to say: "My name is Pussy Galore!" with a straight face?

NB: Mrs Gale is the ONLY PERSON IN THE WORLD who can do this!


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