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What it’s About: British secret agent James Bond, codenamed 007, faces off against Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe), a megalomaniac with a gold obsession who plans to take out Fort Knox in the United States and destroy the world’s economy.
Bond is captured by Goldfinger, waking up tied to a slab of solid gold. With a host of laboratory assistants at the control panels, Goldfinger reveals that Bond is actually mounted on a table beneath a powerful industrial laser, which he then has his henchman begin burning through the metal as it slowly creeps steadily towards the bound Bond. When Bond realizes that Goldfinger intends to leave him there, he asks him if he expects him to talk. Goldfinger only grins and replies, “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to do die.”
The seemingly inescapable situation has been a mainstay of the spy genre, made famous by the Bond franchise and still perpetuates to this day. It typically involves a highly dangerous mechanical scheme that in time will kill Bond. Using his agility and training, he always manages to escape (a trope poked fun at in Mike Myers‘ Austin Power’s International Man of Mystery). The genius behind this laser moment is how it is not that at all but one that requires thinking. Bond, clearly unable to physically free himself from his position, instead uses his wits to find a weakness in Goldfinger’s plan. With the fiery beam inching closer, he reacts quickly, basically throwing darts at a target hoping one hits the mark, and Goldfinger seems uninterested until Bond mentions the name of a secret operation he is not meant to know about (and actually doesn’t, having only hear the name but not what it means). A bit of verbal sparing between them leaves Bond with the upper hand, convincing Goldfinger that what Bond knows or does not know is not worth the risk of killing him. He becomes instantly more valuable alive, and the laser is shut off. This exchange, in a darkened room with nearly no movement, is a powerfully stressful scene and is iconic for establishing much about what the villains in Bond films will all become in some form later.
Want more Goldfinger? Check out this article about the now iconic poster.
Richard Maibaum (screenplay), Paul Dehn (screenplay)
Sean Connery, Gert Fröbe, Honor Blackman