Tag Archives: 1964 movies

Goldfinger (1964) Review

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Goldfinger

Time: 110 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]Medium level violence
Cast:
Sean Connery as James Bond
Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore
Gert Fröbe as Auric Goldfinger
Shirley Eaton as Jill Masterson
Director: Guy Hamilton

MI6 agent James Bond investigates a gold-smuggling ring run by businessman Auric Goldfinger. As he delves deeper into his activities, he uncovers a sinister plan to attack Fort Knox’s gold reserve

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Goldfinger is one of the most iconic James Bond movies, some people have even declared it as the best Bond movie of all time. While I wouldn’t quite say that it’s one of my all-time favourites in the franchise, I do think that it’s a good movie, along with being an incredibly important Bond movie.

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The James Bond series started with Dr No, which was an espionage spy thriller. From Russia with Love was similar to that, but succeeded more and had a slight step towards becoming like the James Bond movies we all know today. Goldfinger however was the first movie that was fully in the James Bond formula, and in fact established it. It has a sequence in which James Bond gets gadgets from Q (Desmond Llewelyn) while plenty of other spy gadgets are in the background, along with the familiar Bond and Q banter. Q in From Russia with Love makes an appearance just to give Bond a suitcase, but here they have the classic back and forth. This even has the introduction of the Aston Martin. In terms of tone, it definitely is lighter and more humorous than the first two movies, leaning more towards camp, killer laser beams and all. It is definitely self-aware of its absurdity, the introduction scene of Pussy Galore being an example of this. At the same time, it takes itself seriously when it needs to and doesn’t come anywhere close to reaching the absurdity of the Roger Moore movies. Bond gets thrown into plenty of thrilling situations, and it starts off with a bang in the energetic opening scene. While I generally like the movie, it has its fair number of issues. It is definitely outdated, especially with the treatment of women (a particular scene with Bond in a barn with Pussy Galore sticks out). However, it still has its issues that are unrelated to when it was made. The script can be a bit expository at times, and the pacing can drag a bit, especially in the second half.

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Sean Connery is once again enjoyable to watch as James Bond, especially with the charisma, the physicality, and the one liners. With all that said, I think his performances in the previous two movies were better. Bond is just not that interesting to watch here, the vulnerability he had in From Russia with Love just isn’t here. It doesn’t help that around the middle point Bond just doesn’t do much within the plot. Nonetheless, he is good in his part. Name aside, Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore was certainly a step forward in terms of what a Bond Girl was for the series. There’s definitely some writing issues, her motivations are a little all over the place especially in the third act, but she plays the role well. Gert Fröbe makes for a memorable villain as Auric Goldfinger, despite some noticeable ADR and dubbing. Unlike Dr No., where the titular villain appears in the third act and From Russia with Love where its major villains are mostly in the background, Goldfinger is the villain from beginning to end. In a way, he is very over the top especially with his plans but both the writing and performance gives him enough qualities and moments to make him feel relatively human, preventing him from becoming a full on cartoon character. Even his henchman Oddjob, who doesn’t speak and kills people with his hat, is entertaining.

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Instead of Terence Young who directed the first two James Bond movies, Goldfinger has Guy Hamilton directing, and he did a good job. Goldfinger gets even larger in terms of spectacle compared to the last couple of movies. The action scenes are very effective and well filmed, and the set design is particularly strong. There is an increase in Bond gadgets over the last two films, and the film utilises them well. The musical score from John Barry is strong as to be expected. There’s also the Goldfinger song as sung by Shirley Bassey, which remains one of the most iconic opening Bond songs.

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Goldfinger does have some issues and I don’t quite love it as much as everyone else. Despite its problems though, it has a charm to it. The cast are pretty good, it’s quite entertaining, and it established the Bond formula, for better and for worse. There are better movies in the series, and in terms of the Connery era, I still think From Russia with Love is better, but it is still a good film.

A Fistful Of Dollars (1964) Review

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A Fistful of Dollars

Time: 99 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Clint Eastwood as “Joe”, the Man with No Name
Marianne Koch as Marisol
John Wells as Ramón Rojo
W. Lukschy as Sheriff John Baxter
S. Rupp as Esteban Rojo
Joe Edger as Piripero
Antonio Prieto as Don Miguel Rojo
Jose Calvo as Silvanito
Margherita Lozano as Consuelo Baxter
Daniel Martín as Julio
Benny Reeves as Rubio
Director: Sergio Leone

The Man With No Name (Clint Eastwood) enters the Mexican village of San Miguel in the midst of a power struggle among the three Rojo brothers (Antonio Prieto, Benny Reeves, Sieghardt Rupp) and sheriff John Baxter (Wolfgang Lukschy). When a regiment of Mexican soldiers bearing gold intended to pay for new weapons is waylaid by the Rojo brothers, the stranger inserts himself into the middle of the long-simmering battle, selling false information to both sides for his own benefit.

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I wanted to check out all of Sergio Leone’s films, I had once watched spaghetti western trilogy (also known as The Man with No Name trilogy) many years ago, and I did want to watch them again. Starting it off with A Fistful of Dollars back in 1964, the first movie in the trilogy is a very solid western, despite some of its datedness. It’s very much a product of its time, which helps to overlook many of the lesser elements with regard to story, direction and the like, and still works as an influential classic.

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The plot and story of A Fistful of Dollars pretty low key when compared to the third movie in Leone’s trilogy, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. It does take a while for the plot to really get going, but it’s fun for sure. I will say that the plot does get a little too tangled in itself at some points, and really a bit messy. I also wouldn’t say that the movie dragged (the movie is just under 100 minutes long) but my interest was waning a bit at times. That’s until the great third act which Leone was really saving up the best for, and it really paid off. The movie is quite entertaining too, and there’s a good amount of humour thrown in there.

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Clint Eastwood’s performances as the mysterious The Man with No Name (in this movie having the name of Joe) is iconic across the trilogy. You just can’t imagine anyone else in this role, with his charisma, the delivery of his lines, and the way he carries himself. He really just steals all the scenes he’s in, he owns every moment, and he’s essentially carrying this movie. The villains are also scene chewing and work very well, especially Gian Maria Volonte (credited as John Wells) as the lead villain.

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Sergio Leone’s direction is top notch for sure, and the style (which became very influential to other westerns made since then) played a huge part in that. It is a little hindered by its lower budget but all things considering, the movie on a technical level generally turned out rather well. The cinematography is great, the shots are very well composed, especially with the use of close ups, and the landscapes suit the story and overall film very well. Those closeup shots of people in tense moments (particularly standoff scenes) are particularly effective, and became one of the staples of the Western genre. A lot of the dubbing can look quite off, same with the sound design and mixing, it’s very noticeable too and will distract some (it certainly did for me until I got used to it). On the other hand, the music by Ennio Morricone is absolutely fantastic and iconic, one of the highlights of the film for sure. It’s pivotal to the film for sure and adds an atmosphere to many of the scenes, elevating them to a whole other level.

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A Fistful of Dollars is a good western that redefined the genre. It was well directed and featured some good performances, with Clint Eastwood leading the movie really well. The rest of the trilogy with For a Few Dollars More and The Good the Bad and the Ugly is much better than this for sure but it’s worth watching at some point if you haven’t already, even if you’re not the biggest fan of westerns.