After watching the second Bond film, From Russia with Love, shortly after Dr. No, I got a bit hung up trying to acquire Goldfinger. I think its central role in the Oscars tribute must have contributed to its popularity at the library because I was the 22nd hold when I first put in the request on the library’s single copy of the film. More than a month later, I’m still number 14 in line, so we paid to rent it on our new cable plan.
I’ve had almost a week to digest the film, and I still can’t get over how truly disgusted and appalled I am with the misogyny of James Bond. It seems to be getting progressively worse in each film, and if I hadn’t already committed myself to this project, I feel like I otherwise would have declared Goldfinger the last Bond film I would ever watch. Seriously, when it comes to womankind, James Bond is the enemy in this film, not Goldfinger.
I thought it was bad when in From Russia with Love, they had two women literally fighting like animals for the love of some man, but in Goldfinger we see James Bond use a woman he’s just had sex with as a human shield (I don’t really care if she is working for the enemy); then we see the credits with images projected over parts of a woman’s body (same concept as the credits in the previous film); then he “playfully” pushed a woman away by the face while trying to talk on the phone; then he can only look at Pussy Galore as a sexual object he needs to consume even though she’s an obviously talented and successful villain and should be a serious threat to him; then he proceeds to force her into sex after she says no multiple times and physically fights with him to keep him off her and prevent him from kissing her. How are we supposed to believe she just melts as soon as he manages to get his lips on hers? All I could think for the next two days was, “did I just see James Bond rape Pussy Galore?” Bond’s joke about Pussy calling Washington because he “must have appealed to her maternal instincts” was really the last straw.
Forevermore, in my mind, Sean Connery will be the Bond who forced himself on Pussy Galore - he’s definitely not my favorite Bond after that. Bond is no longer suave and cool; he’s just a pig. To think that after From Russia with Love I was complaining about these Bond films being rated only PG and how I thought Bond was all about hot and sexy but we had yet to see any of that. I honestly found Goldfinger hard to watch at certain moments because of Bond’s attitude toward sex and women. I know it’s a long shot, but will someone please tell me that Bond evolves over time to acknowledge feminism and become at least a little more enlightened when it comes to women.
I mean this man is completely obsessed with sex and his own sense of sexual entitlement, to the point that it’s interfering with his job. It’s all he thinks about. He even cracks jokes about it and at one point in the film has to take deep breaths and remind himself about “discipline” to prevent himself from chasing after a women who is speeding past him in a car. And while his male colleagues seem to just go along with it and crack jokes about his way with the dames, I find it interesting that these aren’t always positive responses. In some ways it comes off as jealousy; in others it is clearly a frustration with how his preoccupation obviously interferes with his work. It’s telling that when Bond is in his most vulnerable position, that laser beam is headed straight for his crotch. But why these enemies never just shoot him dead when he’s passed out in front of them will forever escape my understanding.
Misogyny aside, in the two films since Dr. No, James Bond--both the character and franchise-- seems to have come into his own. The production quality is better with bigger explosions, more fire, smoke, and urgency, even if the acting and choreographed fight scenes still seem a bit stilted at times. Watching Goldfinger in HD really helped--the colors are incredibly saturated compared to the usual drabness you get with 1960s color quality. The iconic Aston Martin not only looks great; it does some pretty awesome stuff. And Bond has access to more and more nifty gadgets, even though he always seems to have at least one scene where he tricks the enemy by hiding on the ceiling and attacking from above. Bond’s international reputation and plot lines remain in place, but with Goldfinger it was either a simpler plot or I’m becoming better at following them. Yet, of all the unbelievable an implausible plot lines and twists these Bond films have, I think Goldfinger, is definitely the worst so far. The basic scheme that they’re working to stop just would never work. I can’t remember the specifics of what was so unbelievable, but there were definite moments when we couldn't not laugh.
I’ve already checked Thunderball out of the library, so hopefully there won’t be as much lag time before the next update.