Goldfinger: Ultimate Edition (1964)

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Released 1-Nov-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Guy Hamilton (director)
Audio Commentary-Cast and Crew
Featurette-On Tour With The Aston Martin DB5
Interviews-Character-Honor Blackman:- Open-Ended Interview
Interviews-Character-Sean Connery From The Set Of Goldfinger
Featurette-Theodore Bikel and Vito Vandis ScreenTests
Featurette-007, Women, Aliies, Villians, Mission Combat Manuel
Featurette-Q Branch and Exotic Locations
Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-The Goldfinger Phenomenon
Featurette-Original Publicity
Theatrical Trailer-Archive
TV Spots-Broadcasts
Radio Spots-Communications
Gallery-Photo-Experience The World Of Bond In 1964
DVD Credits
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1964
Running Time 105:27
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (54:13)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Guy Hamilton
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Sean Connery
Honor Blackman
Gert Fröbe
Shirley Eaton
Tania Mallet
Harold Sakata
Bernard Lee
Martin Benson
Cec Linder
Austin Willis
Lois Maxwell
Bill Nagy
Michael Mellinger
Case ?
RPI Box Music John Barry


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Dutch
Swedish
Finnish
Norwegian
Danish
Greek
Hindi
English Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The third Bond film saw the series really take off with this clever and entertaining romp across two continents. Bond's assignment this time is to look into the affairs of Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe), a gold bullion dealer whose origins are somewhat shady. In a Miami hotel 007 discovers that Goldfinger likes to win at all costs. Unfortunately for Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton), Bond's investigations into her affairs and her work for Goldfinger leave her with a fatal gilding.

    Back in England Bond tries to worm his way into Goldfinger's confidence during a golf game, using some Nazi gold as bait. Goldfinger's caddy is his loquacious Korean driver Oddjob (Harold Sakata), who wears an unusual and deadly hat. Goldfinger plays along for a while, but he already suspects who Bond really is and does not fall into the agent's trap.

    Bond follows Goldfinger to Geneva, where he manages to become Goldfinger's prisoner and narrowly avoids being badly scorched in a place where scorching would be an issue. This scene has one of the best pieces of dialogue in the entire Bond oeuvre. Thinking that Bond knows more about his plans than he really does, Goldfinger chooses to take him to Kentucky where his master plan is finally revealed.

    People tend to look back on Goldfinger as one of the best of the Bond series, and it is easy to see why. Later in the series the concentration would be on gadgets, spectacle and beautiful women. All of these are here in abundance but the main focus of the film is on the story. The stunts are all believable and humanly possible, though I suspect Oddjob's lethal hat might not actually work.

    Richard Maibaum and Paul Dehn's script is full of witty one-liners and they are delivered with earnestness, or at least a wry smile, by an excellent cast. Sean Connery is a fine Bond, supremely confident in the role in his third assumption of it. Fröbe makes a wonderful villain, though the dubbing of his voice by Michael Collins is more obvious each time I see the film. Honor Blackman was a natural choice for the extraordinarily-named Pussy Galore, and was the first of three Avengers heroines to appear in a Bond outing. The supporting cast is as usual sturdy, my only reservation being the actors playing American gangsters (apart from Martin Benson) having unidiomatic accents. Bernard Lee is the definitive M though he only appears briefly in this episode. Richard Vernon effectively plays Colonel Smithers, a Whitehall type, in an amusing dinner sequence with the slightly befuddled M. Whenever I hear Vernon's voice I automatically associate it with Slartibartfast, something that would not have been an issue for audiences in 1964.

    Shirley Eaton had many more substantial roles but is doomed to be remembered for her brief appearance in this film. The same can be said of Margaret Nolan as Dink, who is only on screen for a minute or so. Desmond Llewellyn makes a lot of his short piece as the head of Q Branch, introducing not only the array of gadgets Bond will have at his disposal - including the now legendary Aston Martin DB5 - but also his disdain for the special agent. Familiar actors in British film and TV like Cec Linder and Burt Kwouk also appear in the cast.

    The budget for this film was much higher than that for the two previous entries in the series, and it shows. The special effects are extremely well done for a movie of this era, particularly a British one, and only a few seams show even after more than 40 years. Guy Hamilton took over the reins from Terence Young for the first of his four stints as Bond director, and his work here cannot really be faulted. Also of note are the opening titles by Robert Brownjohn which became the signature of the series. But by far the most impressive aspect of the technical side of the film is the set design by Ken Adam, which has been endlessly imitated over the years.

    This is an extremely enjoyable romp which the years have not dimmed. It earned its production costs back in 2 weeks of US release and 42 years later is still a cash cow. This is one case where the movie is worth more than the cost of the disc.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in 1.67:1, very close to the original aspect ratio of 1.66:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

    Viewers in 1964 would have seen this film on the big screen in all its glory. That would almost certainly have included flecks, dirt, scratches and reel change markings, so it would be fair to say that in its newest DVD incarnation the film has never looked better. It is not quite perfect, but until this film is available in a high-definition format it won't be.

    The transfer is very sharp and clean. Possibly too clean as the near absence of grain attests. There is plenty of detail visible. I'm not sure exactly what the Lowry process does but I can advise that it has not ruined the visuals. Backgrounds also have a good level of detail. If you find seeing the pores on the actors' faces as well as any skin blemishes they may have off-putting then you might not appreciate this clarity. The clarity does seem to have been achieved at the expense of some edge enhancement, which can be seen for example at 26:39. There seems to be an unrealistic digital edge to outlines as well.

    Colour is excellent. The Technicolor stock of the 1960s was not as bright and vibrant as it had been in the 1940s, but it was still very good. Flesh tones tend to be a little brown. Black levels are good with shadow detail that is not always ideal. Some of the dark suits have little in the way of detail.

    There are some film to video artefacts. There is posterisation on Bond's face in some scenes, an example being at 44:00. There is also digital noise in some backgrounds looking a lot like chroma noise.

    Optional subtitles are provided in a variety of languages. The English subtitles appear to be very well done in a sizeable white font.

    The film is on an RSDL-formatted disc. The layer break is noticeable but not disruptive to the flow of the film. It occurs at 54:13.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are two formats for the soundtrack of the film, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1. The former is the default, but I listened to the latter and only sampled the former.

    Unfortunately the original mono presentation of the audio has been discarded in favour of these faux surround offerings. I would have liked the original sound mix as an option, and its omission is a serious mistake in my opinion. Anyway, the audio still comes up quite well, though the remix to surround tends to highlight some of the shortcomings of the original, being over 40 years old now. The opening song sounds overly reverberant for example. The surround mix also makes the mistake of trying to position voices in relation to the position of the speaker in the frame. This is most noticeable during the early stages of the film.

    Directional effects are placed in the rear channels but added little to the overall experience, and certainly were not as convincing or effective as, say, a recent film specifically mixed for surround presentation. The LFE channel was utilized more than I had expected, adding oomph to explosions and gunshots as well as one sequence with fire and flames.

    Dialogue comes across clearly and I had no trouble understanding any of it. There is a slight distortion at times but no sibilance or any serious issues. Audio sync is spot on, though of course Gert Fröbe is dubbed and there is some ADR work on the other actors at times.

    The music score was a big seller on LP in its day. From Shirley Bassey belting out the title song, which has lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, to the clever scoring in many sequences by John Barry, this is a fine bit of work. Barry not only weaves the title theme throughout the film, but also develops some other interesting bits, notable the music which accompanies the penetration of Fort Knox.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    A lot of extras, some of which will be familiar from the previous Region 4 DVD, or the laserdisc version if you had it in that format. All have subtitles, and unless stated otherwise all are 1.33:1.

Main Menu Introduction, Audio & Animation

    An 87 second skippable restoration promo precedes the menus. The menus are done in Bond credit sequence style, with images and music from the film.

Audio Commentary-Guy Hamilton (director)

    This audio commentary is actually by Lee Pfeiffer, who describes various aspects of the film, and includes a lot of interview material with the director as well as some of the actors and crew.

Audio Commentary-Cast and Crew

    A second commentary, similar to the first but hosted by John Cork and featuring audio clips from various cast and crew members, including Ken Adam, John Barry and several of the stunt and special effects people who are now dead. Like the previous commentary this was I think done for the laserdisc release.

Credits

    DVD credits.

Featurette-On Tour With The Aston Martin DB5 (11:13)

    Archival footage of the publicity tours of Bond's car in the mid-1960s, narrated by Mike Ashley who accompanied the car on Aston Martin's behalf.

Interviews-Character-Honor Blackman:- Open-Ended Interview (3:48)

    A series of filmed answers to set interview questions, which was distributed to TV stations so they could have their own reporters pretend to be interviewing Blackman for real.

Interviews-Character-Sean Connery From The Set Of Goldfinger (3:03)

    A BBC interviewer with Connery from the set of the film, with the questions centering around his early days in the business.

Featurette-Theodore Bikel and Tito Vandis Screen Tests (9:24)

    Screen tests in faded colour of two potential actors for the title role. Fortunately, on the basis of what we see here, neither were chosen. Both deliver expanded speeches which would have been in the laser sequence, and are quite different to the final script. Bikel tries  the character with different pairs of glasses while Vandis has a bad hair day and a lot of makeup in his second go at the character. All tests are in widescreen and are 16x9 enhanced.

Featurette-Mission Control: 007, Women, Allies, Villains, Mission Combat Manual, Q Branch and Exotic Locations 

    Categorised under the above headings are clips from the film, so you can see all of the footage related to a character or situation.

Featurette-Making Of (24:59)

    The featurette, narrated by Patrick Macnee, features information about the making of the film and has interviews with the director, crew and actors. I believe this and the next featurette were made for the laserdisc release of the film.

Featurette-The Goldfinger Phenomenon (28:02)

    Also narrated by Macnee, this one concentrates on the publicity for the film's release and the many merchandising tie-ins.

Featurette-Original Publicity (2:08)

    An original publicity piece concentrating on Oddjob and Pussy Galore.

Theatrical Trailer-Archive (2:59)

    An unrestored original trailer, which is 16x9 enhanced.

TV Spots-Broadcasts (2:09)

    Three TV advertisements, two of which are for the re-release double bill with Dr No.

Radio Spots-Communications (33:36)

    An almost interminable series of radio commercials.

Gallery-Photo-Experience The World Of Bond In 1964

    A very large number of publicity stills, behind the scenes photos, posters and images of merchandising. Pressing the Select button allows you to view text about some of the images.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    These new Ultimate Editions are getting released around the world. As far as I can tell the video quality of the new Region 4s is superior to the old Region 4 releases.

Summary

    The Bond Phenomenon hit top gear with this entertaining, tongue in cheek thriller. Along with Thunderball I think this is the best of the Bond series.

    The video quality is excellent despite some minor digital compression issues.

    The audio is very good, but the absence of the original mono is disappointing.

    More extras than you could look at in three sittings, though not all of them are golden.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS9100ES, using DVI output
DisplaySony VPL-HS60 LCD Projector projected to 80" screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES for surrounds, Elektra Reference power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: Richter Thor Mk IV

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