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review added: 10/13/99



Goldfinger

review by Bill Hunt, editor of The Digital Bits

The James Bond Special Edition DVD Collection


Goldfinger: Special Edition

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Goldfinger: Special Edition
1964 (1999) - MGM/UA

Film Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B-/A+

Specs and Features:

110 mins, PG, letterboxed widescreen (1.66:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, dual-layered (widescreen on one layer, extras on the other), Amaray keep case packaging, 2 audio commentaries (one with director Guy Hamilton, and another with stuntman George Leech and other members of the cast & crew), original publicity featurette, The Making of Goldfinger documentary, The Goldfinger Phenomenon documentary, theatrical trailer, 3 TV spots, multiple radio spots, original Sean Connery radio interviews, Tomorrow Never Dies Sony Playstation game trailer, booklet, "computer interface" style animated film-themed menu screens with sound and music, scene access (32 chapters), languages: English & French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English and French, Close Captioned



Goldfinger (original DVD release)

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

THX-certified
Goldfinger
1964 (1997) - MGM/UA

Film Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B-/C+

Specs and Features:

110 mins, PG, letterboxed widescreen (1.66:1), 16x9 enhanced, full frame (1.33:1), THX-certified, single-sided, dual-layered (widescreen on one layer, full frame on the other), Snapper case packaging, theatrical trailer, original publicity featurette, James Bond history notes, gadget & character selection with notes, 1 Easter Egg, film-themed menu screens, scene access (32 chapters), languages: English, French & Spanish (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, French & Spanish, Close Captioned

Bond: "Do you expect me to talk?"

Goldfinger: "No, Mr. Bond... I expect you to die."

Goldfinger is as classic a Bond film as classic Bond gets. It features the preeminent Bond himself, Sean Connery, the most well-rounded Bond villain, Auric Goldfinger, and even one of the best evil sidekicks, the nefarious Odd Job (with his hat-toss of death). Throw in a bevy of beautiful women, including the likes of Pussy Galore ("I must be dreaming..."), plenty of Bond swagger, an Aston Martin roadster, some cool gadgets, and whole lot of testosterone, and this film easily ranks as one of the best of the series.

Here's the story in a nutshell: 007 is tasked with investigating an international businessman, Auric Goldfinger (played by Gert Fröbe), whom the British government suspects of smuggling gold. Goldfinger likes to win, so he cheats at everything, and he likes gold, so he steals all he can. And when he has his female companion killed for falling prey to Bond's charm (Bond finds her body sprayed head-to-toe with gold paint), taking Goldfinger down a peg becomes a little personal for 007. Bond goes undercover in Switzerland, posing as a businessman himself, to win Goldfinger's confidence and learn more about his operation. And he discovers that not only is Goldfinger a smuggler, he's planning something called Operation Grand Slam. 007 is discovered and captured, but Goldfinger has him flown to the States, under the watchful eye of his henchwoman Pussy Galore (played by Honor Blackman). There, Bond discovers that Grand Slam involves the U.S. gold reserve at Fort Knox. And Goldfinger doesn't merely want the gold there - he's got much bigger plans...

Fröbe is simply marvelous in the title role, creating a Bond villain that is completely believable. He's got amazing presence, in a greedy, corpulent sort of way, that results in a very strong character. He's completely different that Connery's Bond, but every bit as intelligent and cunning. Just look at him in chapter 20, as he's got Bond trapped under the laser - there's none of the needless exposition and melodramatic posturing we usually see in such scenes. Instead, Goldfinger walks around casually with his hands in his pockets, smiles in amused delight, scratches his nose. In short... he's a delightful villain. And when we first see him in Miami, he's wearing a yellow beach shirt and swimming trunks, and he's cheating at cards - the guy could be your grandfather for heaven's sake! Except, of course, that your grandfather probably doesn't have aspirations for world domination.

There are also some classic Bond moments in this film, that make it worth a spin. There's Odd Job's menacing shadow on the wall, and the henchwoman that gets clobbered by an assassin instead of 007 in the film's opening (Bond sees the guy sneaking up on them reflected in her eyes as they kiss, and he turns them around at the last minute, so she takes the club to the head instead of him - yikes!). And who could forget the image of Bond in scuba gear, with a duck on his head (it's camouflage), stepping out of the wet suit to reveal a perfect white dinner jacket underneath (complete with bow tie and corsage) - very 007, baby.

There are two versions of Goldfinger on DVD - the original 1997 Snapper case version, and the new special edition keep case version. And while the new release doesn't indicate THX on its packaging, both DVDs feature the same THX-certified, anamorphic widescreen transfer (the original release also features a full frame version, for those who prefer it). The video quality is generally very good, no matter which version you're watching. You will notice some light dust and scratches on the print, and some light to moderate grain, but given the age of the film, it looks darned good. The colors are accurate, if muted somewhat, and the contrast is excellent, with only slightly less than ideal shadow delineation. This isn't reference quality by any means, but it's a darned satisfying image.

The audio doesn't fare quite as well. Both versions provide Dolby Digital 2.0 sound in English and French (the original release also includes Spanish), and while it's perfectly adequate, there are times when the audio has a slightly tinny or muffled quality. The sound effects mixing also seems to be a little on the hot side, overwhelming the rest of the audio on occasion. Still, dialogue is for the most part clear, and John Barry's sexy, swinging orchestral score sounds just great. This, I think, is the best Bond film music in the series.

It's in the extras that the two DVD versions of Goldfinger differ the most, and there's just no comparison between the two. The original release includes a 2-minute publicity featurette, the trailer, and what amounts to a bunch of scene access links (based on specific gadgets or characters) and production notes. But the new special edition disc gives you a boat-load of stuff. You get no less than 2 commentary tracks, one with the film's director, and another with several different members of the cast & crew. There's a packed still gallery (with more than 1000 images), the trailer, 3 TV spots, and some 22 minutes worth of original radio spots for the film. You also get original radio interview edits with Sean Connery, the same 2-minute publicity featurette as on the original DVD, the Tomorrow Never Dies Playstation game trailer, and two documentaries: the 26-minute Making of Goldfinger, and the 29-minute Goldfinger Phenomenon. And all of that is accessible via some of the coolest animated menu screens you could ask for on a DVD, courtesy of 1K Studios (see images below). What more could you possibly want?

MGM has once again outdone themselves with the Goldfinger: Special Edition. This is arguably the most important Bond film in the entire series, and it had to be done just so. Bond fans will be extremely happy with this disc. This is one of those rare cases where it's worth it to buy the new DVD version, even if you already have the old one. And this disc is yet another good reason to buy the whole first box set in the James Bond Special Edition DVD Collection. Trust me, guys - just get your cash ready now.

Bill Hunt
billhunt@thedigitalbits.com

A look at 1K Studio's animated menus for Goldfinger...
Goldfinger menu animation

Goldfinger menu animation

Goldfinger menu animation


The James Bond Special Edition DVD Collection

Goldfinger: Special Edition


The James Bond DVD Collection, Volume One


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