Goldfinger Paperback – 26 Oct 2006
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Auric Goldfinger: cruel, clever, frustratingly careful, is a cheat at Canasta and a crook on a massive scale in everyday life. The sort of man James Bond hates. So it's fortunate that Bond is the man charged by both the Bank of England and MI5 to discover what this, the richest man in the country intends to do with his ill-gotten gains - and what his connection is with SMERSH, the feared Soviet spy-killing corps. But once inside this deadly criminal's organization, 007 finds that Goldfinger's schemes are more grandiose - and lethal - than anyone could have imagined. Not only is he planning the greatest gold robbery in history, but mass murder as well...
From the Publisher
With a new introduction by Ben Schott.
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The very poor writing of the first two or three improves as the series goes along and I can live with the formula, viz.: outlandish pantomime villain, OTT plot and OTT action.
What puts me off are Bond's (and, presumably, IF's) attitudes and prejudices - racism sexism, snobbishness, etc. - I know they are of their time but, sixty years later, they just grate too much.
In this one, we have Goldfinger, who is short and a ranga (I only learned that word a few days ago, when Prince Harry was confronted in Australia by a little girl holding a sign saying "Rangas Rule" - he was delighted when he was told that ranga is an Aussie term of endearment for redheads - I bet nobody told him that it is derived from orang-utan); Bond's thoughts on Goldfinger are: "Napoleon had been short, and Hitler. It was the short men that caused all the trouble in the world. And what about a misshapen short man with red hair and a bizarre face? That might add up to a really formidable misfit."
Further on, amongst all the rest of the isms and after learning about the true natures of Koreans, we have: "Bond came to the conclusion that Tilly Masterton was one of those girls whose hormones had got mixed up. He knew the type well and thought they and their male counterparts were a direct consequence of giving votes to women and ‘sex equality’. As a result of fifty years of emancipation, feminine qualities were dying out or being transferred to the males. Pansies of both sexes were everywhere, not yet completely homosexual, but confused, not knowing what they were. The result was a herd of unhappy sexual misfits – barren and full of frustrations, the women wanting to dominate and the men to be nannied."
Then in the final scene, we find that Bond is just the man to "cure" Pussy Galore of her lesbianism.
That's enough for me.
A truly unlikable villain, really well brought to life in all of his coldness, with some superb scenes of a criminal mind at sinister work and great descriptive writing of scenes and places.
This is gilt-edged Bond magic.
It is good to see the background behind the story - the parts that were either changed or omitted when making the film. For example, the book reveals Felix's background and how he came to be involved with James Bond.
Part of the value of reading the book is that it includes things that could never make it into a screenplay, for example Bond’s thought processes. He is always alert, aware of gestures which are designed to look innocent such as a stranger in the street who casually asks Bond, like a hawker, if he wants a woman. Bond declines, so the stranger offers him dirty photos and reaches into his pocket to pull some out to show him. ‘The gesture of the hand slipping into the coat was so well known to Bond, so full of old dangers, that, when the hand flashed out and the long silver finger went for his throat, Bond was on balance and ready for him’.
You get to see a side of Bond that never comes across in the films. After murdering the above man, Bond says that he doesn’t like killing people. But it is his job. ‘Regret was unprofessional – worse, it was death-watch beetle in the soul’. The quality of the prose is superb.
There is a darkness to Bond that does not come out in the film (though it has started to be expressed in the Daniel Craig films). Bond, at an airport to catch a flight, watches an aircraft take off. ‘The windows in the transit lounge rattled softly. People got up to watch. Bond tried to read their expressions. Did they hope the plane would crash – give them something to watch, something to talk about, something to fill their empty lives? Or did they wish it well? Which way were they willing the sixty passengers? To live or to die?’
The description of the round of golf with the cheating Goldfinger is superb. And, once more, the prose is good, for example: ‘The difference between a good golf shot and a bad one is the same as the difference between a beautiful and a plain woman – a matter of millimetres’ (the same can be said for a man, I must add).
The assault on Fort Knox is far-fetched but that did not stop me from enjoying the book.
A thoroughly enjoyable read.
He survives attacks that would normally kill any soilder and walk away with witty phase or joke. It all escapism as well fast paced writing that pulls you like river current so be warned do not dive in to Bond.
There is a big difference in the character portrayed on screen as to the character on the pages of his books. James is less self assured and does have his doubts to his self belief.
The story in this book is near enough the same as in the film, which might seem obvious, but in many of the books in the series all they have in common with the film is the title!
The writing style is a bit dated compared to modern writers, but that is no bad thing. The books pack in a lot of action in what turns out to be quite short books.
well worth the read.