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GOLDFINGER ($35) is without question one of the defining moments in the long-lived James Bond movie franchise. This third James Bond movie is the film that introduced audiences to the high tech gadgets that have become essential to the formula of every subsequent 007 outing, until the franchise rebooted with Daniel Craig’s CASINO ROYALE. For those who may not remember, James Bond was a bit more self reliant in DR. NO and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, but then again, the budgets for the first two 007 adventures probably left the Q branch seriously under-funded. Anyway, what would a vintage James Bond movie be without all those wondrous little gadgets that the British super-spy has used to get out of one tight spot after another?

GOLDFINGER also remains significant amongst the Bond films for various other reasons as well. The Shirley Bassey rendition of Goldfinger is easily the most easily recognizable of all the Bond theme songs. GOLDFINGER also created the single most recognizable image found in any Bond film. Show any movie fan a picture of a naked girl who has been painted gold and they will immediately associate it with GOLDFINGER. In fact, that image of the golden girl is so potent that it has become a cinematic icon. GOLDFINGER also had the distinction of introducing the Bond girl with the most infamous name- Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman), a woman whose own personal tastes ran towards... oh, never mind. GOLDFINGER also gets a "hats off" for Oddjob (Harold Sakata), who is clearly the most unforgettable of all the evil henchmen that have appeared in the Bond films.

Finally, there is the title villain himself- Goldfinger. I don’t think that there has been another actor who has had an impact on the series, such as the one Gert Fröbe made with his portrayal of Auric Goldfinger. Fröbe’s stature was certainly larger than life, which helped make his villainous turn as Goldfinger even larger. Let us not forget Sean Connery, who, to many fans, remains their personal favorite of all the actors to essay the role of James Bond. Connery’s performance is perfect, showing that even in this third portrayal of Bond, this is the role he was born to play. The plot of GOLDFINGER involves the gold obsessed villain’s plan to launch an assault on the gold depository at Fort Knox, as a means of enriching his own gold holdings. Of course, GOLDFINGER is filled with all of the action, beautiful women and marvelous locations that fans expect from a Bond adventure. The cast of GOLDFINGER also features Shirley Eaton, Tania Mallet, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell, Desmond Llewelyn, Martin Benson Cec Linder, Austin Willis, Bert Kwouk, Mai Ling and Margaret Nolan.

MGM Home Entertainment through 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made GOLDFINGER available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. Like the other Bond movies released on Blu-ray, GOLDFINGER has undergone extensive restorative work at the hands of Lowry Digital. As a result of the digital rejuvenation, GOLDFINGER sports a stunning 1080p presentation. This is the absolute best I have ever seen this title look. Image sharpness, dimensionality and fine detail are truly marvelous. A few shots containing optical effects appear a little soft, in comparison to the rest of the film. Colors are fully saturated with a number of outdoor sequences really standing out, as does Shirley Eaton’s gilding. Blacks appear inky, while the whites are crisp and completely stable. Contrast is excellent and the shadow detail is very good for a film of this vintage. The elements from which GOLDFINGER have been mastered, have been given a thorough digital scrubbing and appear virtually blemish free. Grain is minimal, but there has been no sacrifice in resolution.

GOLDFINGER is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Like the other Bond films from the same era, GOLDFINGER features a new mix that does a wonderful job re-purposing the 1960’s vintage monaural materials. As expected, this new mix is localized to the forward soundstage. Directional effects are present (primarily across the front), and work within the limitations of the materials. Additionally, the musical component has been reworked to encompass the outlying channels. Fidelity is better than I have heard previously, but the lossless encode cannot the technological limitations of the original recordings. Still, the score and the iconic Shirley Bassey theme song come across very nicely. Dialogue is crisp and easy to understand. French and Spanish 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English and Spanish monaural tracks. Subtitles are available in English and Spanish.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a nice complement of supplements. Starting things off are two running Audio Commentaries, the first with director Guy Hamilton, while the second features cast and crewmembers that include actors Sean Connery, Honor Blackman, Desmond Llewelyn, and Lois Maxwell, as well as screenwriter Richard Maibaum. Programs ported over from earlier releases of the film include: The Making Of Goldfinger, a twenty-six minute behind-the-scenes look at the production of this classic James Bond film and The Goldfinger Phenomenon, a twenty-nine minute retrospective on the publicity and sensational international reaction to the theatrical release of GOLDFINGER in 1964. A new Featurette has been included: On Tour With The Aston Martin is a twelve-minute look at the car introduced in GOLDFINGER. Vintage Material includes a period promotional program, screen tests and interview footage. Theatrical Trailers, TV Spots, Radio Spots and a large Image Database of stills and promotional materials close out the supplements.

GOLDFINGER is classic Bond at its very best. The Blu-ray presentation is incredibly good, thanks to those miracle workers at Lowry Digital. Absolutely recommended.



Goldfinger [Blu-ray] (1964)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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