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Guy Hamilton
Sean Connery, Gert Frobe, Honor Blackman, Harold Sakata, Shirley Eaton, Tania Mallett, Cec Linder, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell, Desmond Llewelyn
Richard Maibaum & Paul Dehn, based on the novel by Ian Fleming

James Bond Back In Action!

Rated PG.

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English DTS 5.1
English Monaural
French Dolby Digital 5.1

Runtime: 110 min.
Price: $89.98
Release Date: 11/7/2006

• Audio Commentary with Director Guy Hamilton and Actors Sean Connery, Desmond Llewelyn, Lois Maxwell, Michael Mellinger, and Honor Blackman
• Audio Commentary with Stuntmen Alf Joint and George Leech, Effects Supervisor Cliff Culley, Draughtsman Peter Lamont, Composer John Barry, Production Designer Ken Adam, and Special Effects Technicians Joe Fitt and Bert Luxford
• “Sean Connery from the Set of Goldfinger”  Featurette
• Theodore Bikel Screen Test
• Tito Vandis Screen Test
• “On Tour with the Aston Martin DB5” Featurette
• “Honor Blackman Open-Ended Interview”
• 007 Mission Control Interactive Guide
Making of Goldfinger Documentary
• “The Goldfinger Phenomenon”  Documentary
• Photo Galleries
• Publicity Featurette
• Radio Interviews with Sean Connery
• Collectible Booklet
• Theatrical Trailer
• Television & Radio Spots
• Booklet

Available Only as Part of “The Ultimate James Bond Collection Volume One”


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Goldfinger: Ultimate Edition (1964)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 29, 2006)

For my money, Bond never got any better than Goldfinger. The series got bigger and flashier, but no film ever portrayed the fun, action, and danger, and the high-tech nuttiness of the world of James Bond any more perfectly than this 1964 classic. This was the film that convinced me that Sean Connery was unquestionably the best Bond ever.

It may sound like heresy, but for much of my life, I thought Roger Moore defined the character. It's a matter of timing. By the time I became interested in the series in 1979 with Moonraker, Connery had been without his license to kill for eight years and Moore was firmly ensconced in the role. Considering that these were the days before common and affordable VCRs, that meant that for all intents, Moore was Bond to my generation. We had very little experience with anyone else.

By 1987, the home video picture had changed. On a summer break from college, I became enamored with the Bond series and rented most of the films. Most of them seemed somewhat disappointing - partly a result of the poorly panned and scanned transfers - but Goldfinger appeared to be something else entirely. Here was a film that fully presented Bond as I thought he should be: smooth, classy, resourceful, and damned slick!

As the years went by, I expanded my Bond horizons and came to better appreciate other films in the series. Dr. No, From Russia With Love, and You Only Live Twice were strong entries, and Thunderball - the direct follow-up to Goldfinger - briefly made me reconsider which Bond film I liked best. Still, I always came back to Goldfinger. It simply balanced all of the good things about Bond - action, humor, sex and spectacle - and left out the excess that would mar the franchise in later years. After 42 years, it remains the model that almost every other Bond film strives to emulate. They may approach it, but they'll never outdo it; you can't top an original.

What makes Goldfinger a classic? After all, it doesn't seem to offer anything that can't be found in all the subsequent efforts. While it's true that later films were able to replicate the components of this picture - from the standard complement of babes to the wacky gadgets and the monomaniacal villains - none could duplicate the style, panache and sauciness of Goldfinger. The stunts got bigger, the babes hotter, and the villains scarier, but it felt like looking at a paint by numbers copy of The Mona Lisa; technically it seems correct, but it lacks the beauty and the originality of the classic.

Connery's never been better than he was here. Goldfinger had him in a perfect place. The Bond series had done well, but it hadn't yet reached phenomenon status, so he and the others still had something to prove. After the enormous success of this picture, you could see the weight added to Connery's shoulders. He still provided effective work in his few subsequent Bonds, but it seemed clear that he tired of the role, especially as the technical aspects of the films grew more and more complex.

This movie also worked remarkably well because of a strong trio of villains. Gert Frobe played our eponymous baddie, bullion-obsessed Auric Goldfinger, with a very convincing and effective attitude of arrogance and self-confidence. He's a match for Bond not because of his physical strength - the dude's really a tub of goo - but due to his intelligence and his belief in himself.

Goldfinger didn't need physical strength because his number one sidekick made up for him. Oddjob, the Korean butler with incredible power and one bitchin' bowler, remains easily the best physical baddie in a Bond movie. Harold Sakata doesn't get much dialogue - actually, he doesn't get any dialogue, unless you count "unh, unh" - but he makes the part work through his sheer presence. You have to love a villain who gets whacked by the hero but who just smiles bemusedly in response.

The final villain doesn't completely qualify as such, since she changes teams (in more ways than one) by the end of the film. Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman) spends most of the movie as an employee of Goldfinger's, but Bond's sublime sex appeal persuades her to transfer over to the side of what's right and proper before the action ends. Galore represents one of the innovations from Goldfinger that did not carry over to most of the subsequent films: a strong, independent female lead. Blackman plays her with grit and a cool ferocity. In the future, the females in these films would be called "Bond girls." Pussy Galore was the first - and remains one of the few - "Bond women".

After 42 years, Goldfinger hasn't aged a day. Yes, the effects are dated, and the world of 1964 certainly looks nothing like our modern society, but the film's action and style still resonate and excite. I've avoided the phrase until now, but I can't resist: nobody does it better.

The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus A-

Goldfinger appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the film comes enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Across the board, this was a very fine transfer.

Very few issues connected to sharpness occurred. A smidgen of softness affected wide shots, partially due to a little edge enhancement. For the most part, however, the movie looked crisp and detailed. I noticed no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and source flaws were virtually absent. If any specks, marks or other concerns popped up, I didn’t notice them.

Colors excelled. With its many different settings, the movie afforded us a distinctive pallet, and the transfer made good use of these. The hues looked bright and lively throughout the flick. Blacks were deep and dense, while shadows showed nice clarity. Really, there wasn’t much to dislike in this fine presentation.

As with all the other Bond “Ultimate Edition” DVDs, Goldfinger came with Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 remixes. As with the other Bonds I’ve screened to date, I discerned no differences between the two. I thought they seemed virtually identical.

Taken from the original monaural audio – which also appeared on the DVD – these tracks opened up the spectrum in a moderate manner. Music showed decent spread across the front, and some environmental elements also cropped up from the sides. Some of these proved useful and the effects showed reasonable delineation and placement. Localization could be a little mushy at times, but the elements usually popped up in logical and accurate spots. Surround usage was minor and added basic reinforcement to the set.

Audio quality was pretty positive. Speech could be a little thin but the lines usually remained reasonably natural, and they always seemed perfectly intelligible. Music fell into the same range. The score and songs occasionally appeared a bit trebly, but they offered generally good clarity and dynamics. Effects sounded fairly lively and bold, and low-end presented nice oomph when necessary. The tracks showed their age and weren’t among the best Bond remixes, but they seemed relatively good.

How did the picture and audio of this 2006 “Ultimate Edition” compare with the original 1999 release? Both showed noticeable improvements. The sound seemed livelier and more concise, while the visuals blew away the old set. The UE was cleaner, tighter and fresher. It looked like a whole new movie.

The “Ultimate Edition” includes many of the same extras from the 1999 DVD and adds some new ones. I’ll mark the new features with an asterisk, so if you fail to see a star, the element already showed up on the prior set.

On DVD One, the set contains two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from director Guy Hamilton, Graham Rye of the James Bond Fan Club of England, and actors Sean Connery, Desmond Llewelyn, Lois Maxwell, Michael Mellinger, and Honor Blackman. Bond historian Lee Pfieffer hosts the edited, compiled discussion and offers plenty of details himself. Pfieffer tells us biographical elements about the participants along with various production notes.

As for those involved in the movie’s creation, they go through a mix of anecdotes and information about the shoot. The piece looks at cast and characters, sets and locations, gadgets and car, performance issues such as dubbing Frobe, changes from book, score, stunts, creating a faux Fort Know, and trivia bits. Quite a lot of good information pops up here and we get a nice view of the production.

Unfortunately, quite a lot of dead air slows the proceedings. I don’t like blank spots during running tracks, but I find copious gaps to be even more annoying with so much material from which to choose; surely all those participants could have added up to 110 minutes of content. The quality of the information is good enough to make the track useful, but the gaps turn it into a moderate disappointment.

Similar complaints greet the next piece. The second commentary presents stuntmen Alf Joint and George Leech, effects supervisor Cliff Culley, draughtsman Peter Lamont, composer John Barry, production designer Ken Adam, and special effects technicians Joe Fitt and Bert Luxford. Hosted by John Cork of the Ian Fleming Foundation, this one touches on stunts and effects, elements related to the Aston Martin, music and production design, changes from the novel to the movie, and other filmmaking issues.

As I alluded, dead air continues to be a problem here. We get fewer gaps but they tend to last longer periods of time. I like the information on display but wish we didn't find so many pauses.

Heading to DVD Two, the package splits into a few subdomains. Under Declassified: MI6 Vault, we get five components. *Sean Connery from the Set of Goldfinger goes for three minutes, 11 seconds and shows the actor in a quick interview piece. He chats from the prison set under Goldfinger’s house. It’s an interesting archival clip as Connery discusses his then-current lifestyle.

Next come two *screen tests. We find one for Theodore Bikel (5:38) and one for Tito Vandis (4:12). Both audition to play Goldfinger and both do alternate versions of the laser scene. Bikel’s takes place pre-laser, while Vandis’s is post. These are interesting to see because they show the actors’ bersions of the character and also give us a glimpse of unused material.

Called *On Tour with the Aston Martin DB5, the next featurette fills 11 minutes, 42 seconds. Narrated by Aston Martin sales manager Mike Ashley, we see shots from the car’s promotional tour and other elements. Ashley adds good information about the vehicle and the archival bits offer many nice shots.

The “Vault” ends with an *Honor Blackman Open-Ended Interview. Eon Productions Director of Marketing Anne Bennett acts as “interviewer” in this three-minute and 58-second piece. Blackman provides the canned video responses as Bennett “asks” the questions. It’s another fun piece of history.

With that we head to the *007 Mission Control Interactive Guide. This splits into components under seven different headings: “007”, “Women”, “Allies”, “Villains”, “Mission Combat Manual”, “Q Branch”, and “Exotic Locations”. An odd form of “greatest hits”, this simply presents a few selected scenes that match the topics.

One of the only interesting elements comes from the presentation of the opening credits without text (2:47). “Locations” (3:05) also gives us a narrated set of clips. Maud Adams chats over the scenes and tells us about the locations. That makes it more useful than the others since they just show snippets from the final film. The rest of the set is a waste of time.

Heading to Mission Dossier, we begin with The Making of Goldfinger. Narrated by Patrick Macnee, this 26-minute and three-second documentary features archival materials, movie shots, and interviews. We hear from Hamilton, Joint, Connery, Llewelyn, Adam, Fitt, Luxford, Blackman, Culley, Lamont, Mellinger, writer Richard Maibaum, associate producer Stanley Sopel, actor Shirley Eaton, and special effects supervisor John Stears.

The show looks at the origins of the novel and its adaptation, bringing Hamilton onto the film, the pre-credit sequence, the Aston Martin, working with actor Gert Frobe and other casting and acting thoughts, various sets and locations, and a few additional shoot specifics. Not too much material repeats from the commentaries, as “Making” creates a solid overview of the flick. It’s a little short and lacks tremendous detail, but it works as a fun and informative piece.

The Goldfinger Phenomenon runs 29 minutes, 14 seconds. Again narrated by Macnee, this show includes notes from Blackman, Llewelyn, Hamilton, Rye, actor Pierce Brosnan and Ian Fleming Foundation president Michael Van Blaricum. “Phenomenon” looks at the flick’s publicity campaign, its popularity, and related topics. We see the methods used to promote the movie as well as spin-off elements like toys and other products. “Phenomenon” complements “Making” well. It presents a solid look at the various publicity elements and other tie-in aspects of the production.

Finally, an Original Publicity Featurette goes for two minutes, 16 seconds. It's pretty lame, although it does present a few nice clips from the shoot.

The Ministry of Propaganda presents a tremendous amount of publicity materials. Only one trailer appears, but we also get three television ads. One comes from the original release of the film, whereas the other two shill for a re-release double-feature of Goldfinger and Dr. No. All of these are decent; they're typical of the rather shrill ads of the time, but they get the job done.

Some more unusual promotional materials show up here as well. A ton of radio ads appear on this DVD. Most of these fall into the standard "go see this movie" category, but some are inventive and delightful, like one that depicts a man who comes home to find that his wife has covered herself in gold paint because she's such a Bond nut. Also very entertaining are the "open-ended" radio interviews with Sean Connery. These were issued to radio stations so that deejays could pretend that they are conversing with Connery. The tape contains the answers to some questions that the script has the deejays ask. It's clumsy and goofy but very entertaining nonetheless.

In the Image Database, we find a still photo supplement. The section for Goldfinger includes a whopping 240 photos. As with the others, these photos are presented under different chapter headings. There are 22 of these in all, and these offer a nicely efficient way to manage the pictures so that you don't have to wade through tons of dreck to later review one that you like. As always, I'm not a huge fan of these still archives, but this one is well executed and you gotta love the shots of Shirley Eaton getting made up with the gold paint!

Finally, the Goldfinger DVD includes a nice eight-page booklet inside the case. It offers some fun facts about the production. You'll hear some of them elsewhere, but most aren't repeated in other areas.

After more than four decades and 21 films, Goldfinger remains virtually perfect Bond. Exciting, clever and fun, it sums up everything that makes 007 endearing. The DVD presents excellent picture and extras along with pretty solid audio. This is a terrific release.

Should fans who already own the 1999 Goldfinger upgrade to this “Ultimate Edition”? Definitely. It offers a few new extras, but more importantly, it presents vastly improved picture and sound. This is a much superior set.

Note that this “Ultimate Edition” of Goldfinger can be purchased only as part of “The Ultimate James Bond Collection Volume One”. This five-movie set also includes The World Is Not Enough, The Man With the Golden Gun, Diamonds Are Forever, and The Living Daylights.

To rate this film, visit the original review of GOLDFINGER