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Special Edition

GOLDFINGER ($35) is without question one of the defining moments in the long-lived James Bond movie franchise. GOLDFINGER is the film that introduced audiences to the high tech gadgets that have become essential to the formula of every subsequent 007 outing. 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 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 title song GOLDFINGER (sung by Shirley Bassey) is easily the most easily recognizable of all the Bond theme songs. Can you say, "I can name that tune in three notes." 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 introduced Honor Blackman as the Bond girl with the most infamous name- Pussy Galore, 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 donít think that there has been another actor who has had an impact on the series, such as the one Gert FrŲbe made with his portrayal of Auric Goldfinger. FrŲbeís stature was certainly larger than life, which helped make his villainous turn as Goldfinger even larger. Let us not forget Sean Connery, who remains the very best of all the actors to essay the role of James Bond. Conneryís 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 villainís 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 Entertainmentís Special Edition DVD of GOLDFINGER appears to be taken from the same THX certified wide screen transfer that they previously issued on the now discontinued film only DVD. GOLDFINGER is presented close to its proper 1.66:1 theatrical aspect ratio, however since the DVD is enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays, the transfer appears to be framed a bit closer to 1.78:1 (the ratio of wide screen televisions). The transfer is as sharp and detailed as this 1964 film is going to look under NTSC. Color reproduction is good, although it may be a bit muted in comparison to an original IB Technicolor print. Flesh tones are fairly natural and there are no problems with either chroma noise or bleeding of the more intense colors. The film elements do show some age-related markings, but nothing objectionable. Film grain is noticeable from time to time, but it is never bothersome. Blacks are accurately rendered and the image reproduces smooth, even contrast. Digital compression artifacts remain in check on this well authored, dual layer DVD.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack does show its age with mid-fidelity sound that sometimes is a bit strident when too much amplification is applied. Dialogue is fairly clean and always intelligible. A French language soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and French subtitles.

As with the other Special Edition Bond DVDs, GOLDFINGER sports terrifically designed interactive menus that feature animation, sound and full motion video. Through the menus one can access the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the DVDís nice complement of supplemental materials. GOLDFINGER sports two audio commentaries, the first with director Guy Hamilton and the second with cast and crewmembers. While both have their merits, neither commentary is the traditional screen specific type, but assemble from audio interviews. The DVD also includes two documentaries that run slightly short of thirty minutes each and are both hosted by Patrick Macnee. The Making Of Goldfinger is just what the title implies, a behind-the-scenes look at the production of this classic James Bond film. The Goldfinger Phenomenon looks at the publicity and sensational international reaction to the theatrical release of GOLDFINGER in 1964. Filling out the supplements is an extensive still gallery with hundreds of images, a theatrical trailer, a short publicity featurette, 3 TV spots, 22 minutes of radio spots, plus additional radio interviews with Sean Connery to promote the release of GOLDFINGER.

GOLDFINGER is another James Bond classic given royal treatment by MGM Home Entertainment. This Special Edition DVD is must have for any Bond fan. Absolutely recommended.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 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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