The Essential Movie Library #83: Goldfinger / GoldenEye / Skyfall (1964, 1995, 2012)

Three versions of the most famous character in the history of movies

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Three versions of the most famous character in the history of movies: While in sheer story-telling terms the preceding From Russia With Love is better written and directed, Goldfinger is the definitive adventure of British secret agent 007 for one reason that’s not the car, not the blonde swathed in fatally gold paint, not the Asian villain with a lethal hat, nor even the spectacular Shirley Bassey theme. Rather it’s the rough-around-the-edges Scot whose casting so appalled Fleming, and who finally made the role his after two largely successful but slightly awkward dress rehearsals, minting as he did the third time out an unsettling combination of cruelty and élan. Sean Connery was succeeded by a procession of pretenders, of course, one of whom, Roger Moore, not only played the character more than anyone but in fact was Fleming’s original choice, which shows you how much novelists know. But a viewer should never be plagued by the suspicion that even he can beat up James Bond.

Pierce Brosnan seemed the worst choice yet when cast in GoldenEye, but that was only if you hadn’t watched him as a cold-blooded IRS killer in 1980’s The Long Good Friday. With the welcome dial-back of gadgets and techy gimmicks that the Bond producers institute every decade or so, not to mention underrated Bond girl/villainess for the ages Famke Jannsen (later in the X-Men pictures), Brosnan made GoldenEye one of the most irresistible Bonds. Nearly as counter-intuitive in his casting as was Matt Damon as that American agent with the memory problems (Essential Movie Library #82), blond and thuggish Daniel Craig would have shocked Fleming most of all, which may be why his 007, still counting his way up the digits when introduced in 2006’s Casino Royale, is the most indelible since Connery. With Craig, Bond wasn’t rebooted but replaced by a new model altogether and, like Connery, Craig finally owned the role for good in his third outing, the dazzling Skyfall with its psychedelic Shanghai, Javier Bardem’s delicious turn as a rogue spy, and Judi Dench’s shocking swansong as M.

The Essential Movie Library #82: The Bourne Trilogy
The Essential Movie Library #81: Zero Dark Thirty
The Essential Movie Library #80: A Place in the Sun
The Essential Movie Library #79: Boogie Nights
The Essential Movie Library #78:  Le Samouraï
The Essential Movie Library #77: The Wild Bunch
The Essential Movie Library #76: Barton Fink
The Essential Movie Library #75: The Spirit of the Beehive
The Essential Movie Library #74: Sexy Beast
The Essential Movie Library #73: Groundhog Day
The Essential Movie Library #72: Rear Window
The Essential Movie Library #71: The 400 Blows
The Essential Movie Library #70: Blue Velvet
The Essential Movie Library #69: Dr. Strangelove
The Essential Movie Library #68: The Bicycle Thieves
The Essential Movie Library #67: Pulp Fiction
The Essential Movie Library #66: Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
The Essential Movie Library #65: Caché
The Essential Movie Library #64: A Hard Day’s Night
The Essential Movie Library #63: The Searchers
The Essential Movie Library #62: The Conformist
The Essential Movie Library #61: Bonnie & Clyde
The Essential Movie Library #60: Sweet Smell of Success
The Essential Movie Library #59: Melancholia
The Essential Movie Library #58: La Dolce Vita
The Essential Movie Library #57: Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
The Essential Movie Library #56: Contempt
The Essential Movie Library #55: Sunset Boulevard
The Essential Movie Library #54: Metropolis
The Essential Movie Library #53: In A Lonely Place
The Essential Movie Library #52: Talk to Her
The Essential Movie LIbrary #51: To Be or Not To Be
The Essential Movie Library #50: The Battle of Algiers
The Essential Movie Library #49: Notorious
The Essential Movie Library #48: Wings of Desire
The Essential Movie Library #47: L’Avventura
The Essential Movie Library #46: Malcolm X
The Essential Movie Library #45: In the Mood for Love / 2046
The Essential Movie Library #44: Touch of Evil
The Essential Movie Library #43: Once Upon A Time in the West
The Essential Movie Library #42: Belle de Jour
The Essential Movie Library #41: Apocalypse Now
The Essential Movie Library #40: Out of the Past
The Essential Movie Library #39: Branded to Kill
The Essential Movie Library #38: The General
The Essential Movie Library #37: Lord of the Rings
The Essential Movie Library #36: Aguirre, the Wrath of God
The Essential Movie Library #35: Raging Bull
The Essential Movie Library #34: The Rules of the Game
The Essential Movie Library #33: Chinatown 
The Essential Movie Library #32: Stalker
The Essential Movie Library #31: Weekend
The Essential Movie Library #30: Some Like It Hot 
The Essential Movie Library #29: Red River
The Essential Movie Library #28: The Passenger
The Essential Movie Library #27: Singin’ in the Rain
The Essential Movie Library #26: Heat
The Essential Movie Library #25: L’Atalante
The Essential Movie Library #24: Sunrise
The Essential Movie Library #23: His Girl Friday
The Essential Movie Library #22: Black Narcissus
The Essential Movie Library #21: Blade Runner
The Essential Movie Library #20: Persona
The Essential Movie Library #19: The Shop Around the Corner
The Essential Movie Library #18: Lost Highway
The Essential Movie Library #17: Tokyo Story
The Essential Movie Library #16: 8 1/2
The Essential Movie Library #15: City Lights
The Essential Movie Library #14: Seven Samurai
The Essential Movie Library #13: Lawrence of Arabia
The Essential Movie Library #12: Citizen Kane
The Essential Movie Library #11: Jules and Jim
The Essential Movie Library #10: My Darling Clementine 
The Essential Movie Library #9: Double Indemnity 
The Essential Movie Library #8: That Obscure Object of Desire 
The Essential Movie Library #7: 2001: A Space Odyssey 
The Essential Movie Library #6: Casablanca
The Essential Movie Library #5: The Lady Eve
The Essential Movie Library #4: The Third Man 
The Essential Movie Library #3: The Passion of Joan of Arc 
The Essential Movie Library #2: Vertigo 
The Essential Movie Library #1: The Godfather Trilogy

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Comments

  1. Video360

    June 19, 2014 at 1:35 am

    “IRA” killer, even.

    Reply