Licence to travel – following James Bond around the world: Goldfinger


After the fabulous ‘Skyfall’, the world is holding its breath for the 24th James Bond film, ‘Spectre’ coming out in November, perfectly timed for my birthday – as is tradition 🙂

An essential element of the appeal of the early movies remains in place today – the use of exotic foreign locations. In this series we’ll be returning to locations used in each of the 23 films so far released (we’re purists and are not including the first ‘Casino Royale’ or ‘Never say never again’).

We’ll show you how to find them, where to stay nearby and let you know of any 007 experiences you really shouldn’t miss – such as performing the actual bungee jump from the opening sequence of ‘Goldeneye’. We’ll add a short summary of the plot, some video clips and throw in some fun trivia and goofs for each movie too, because we’re nice like that. Lights, camera, action!


Goldfinger, 1964

The poster

Image (c)

The trailer

The plot

James Bond is tasked with investigating an eccentric millionaire by the name of Auric Goldfinger who is suspected of smuggling gold. In the course of his mission he discovers that Goldfinger in fact intends to irradiate the entire gold supply of the USA by exploding a nuclear bomb inside Fort Knox.

The countries

USA, England, Switzerland

The locations

Despite the fact that this was the third film in a proven franchise the budget remained quite modest. In fact with the exception of a week spent filming in Switzerland, Sean Connery’s shot all his scenes in England. So much for the glamorous jet-setting then. That would come later…

In the pre-credit sequence we see Bond in action (with a memorable duck gadget supplied by Q) in an unnamed South American country, but the scene was a rather less exotic  storage tank complex at Stanwell, west of London between Staines and Hounslow. Shirley Bassey belts out the eponymous title track over the credits and we are transported to Miami.

Image (c)

The Fontainebleau hotel has been used in many films over the years – as well as the backdrop for Auric Goldfinger (played by Gert Frobe) cheating at cards it was also where Tony Montana (Al Pacino) relaxed in Scarface and Whitney Houston performed at a benefit gig in The Bodyguard. Yet Connery had to make to with shooting on a replica of the hotel built at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire back in Blighty. 007 meets the ill-fated Jill Masterson and not long after foiling Goldfinger’s card tricks she meets her notorious golden demise.

Where to stay on location

There’s really no contest here – stay at the same hotel, of course. Having been refurbished in extravagant style the Fontainebleau is even more appealing these days. It is also considerably more expensive than in Goldfinger’s day.

Bond experiences

While in town, make sure you don’t miss the James Bond Exhibition at the Dezer Collection in North Miami. “Constituting one of the largest collections of James Bond props and vehicles in the world, the Dezer Collection’s James Bond exhibition is valued at over $15 million and includes a fascinating array of automobiles, motorcycles, submarines, airplanes, helicopters  boats, and snow mobiles. The collection is home to the golden gun itself, a T-55 Soviet tank featured in the 1995 Bond film Goldeneye, a BD-5 Microjet, and six Aston Martins, among many other props.  Our James Bond museum will also showcase vehicles from the Ian Fleming foundation.”

Image obtained from under Creative Commons (c) Jag_route79

Bond returns to London to learn the true extent of Goldfinger’s smuggling operation and is handed the keys to a heavily modified Aston Martin DB5 by Q as well as a couple of tracking gadgets. He is then sent to meet the fiend himself for a round of golf at the ‘Royal St George’s, Sandwich in Kent’. This is in fact the Stoke Park Country Club, Spa and Hotel, a few miles north of Slough, Buckinghamshire. Goldfinger’s henchman Oddjob decapitates a statue with his steel-brimmed hat outside the Clubhouse (actually the main hotel building). Another well-used movie location, it was used as the interior of the ‘Hamburg’ hotel in Tomorrow Never Dies and there is another Bond connection – it played a big part in Layer Cake starring Daniel Craig. The Club also featured in Bridget Jones’ Diary. Bond defeats Goldfinger on the golf course and the action moves to Switzerland.

Where to stay on location

Again, since the club in the film is now hotel, you’ll have to stay there. Stoke Park Country Club, Spa and Hotel is a luxury retreat with prices to match, but then we are trying to live like Bond, right?

Image obtained from under Creative Commons (c) Michelle Kinsey Bruns

007 follows the villain in his Rolls Royce through the Swiss Alps and meets Jill Masterson’s sister Tilly who is hell-bent on revenge for her sister’s death. They meet in Andermatt, a small Swiss village 50 miles south of Zurich near the Simplon Tunnel.

Image (c)

After both make their excuses and part company at a petrol station, Bond continues to track Goldfinger to his huge factory (the exterior of which was actually the Pilatus Aircraft Factory outside Lucerne, the interior was – you guessed it – shot at Pinewood).

Where to stay on location

To make this a Bond hat-trick, you can stay at the petrol station from the film (part of the Aurora Hotel) and even better, this one won’t break the bank either. So you’ll have plenty of money left to spend on hiring that Aston Martin to recreate the drive through the Alps…

007 find that Tilly is determined to kill Goldfinger – while surveying the factory at night she appears with a sniper rifle and triggers an alarm wire. Goldfinger’s goons are soon swarming out to capture them and a frantic chase ensues with 007 deploying most of the Aston Martin’s gadgets and one of the cars tailing them plunging off a cliff in explosive fashion. The cliff was actually Harefield Quarry. They are forced to stop at a steep drop and a shoot-out ensues, during which Tilly is killed by Oddjob and Bond is captured. Forced to drive back to the factory by a henchman with a gun in the passenger seat, Bond uses one more of the car’s special features to eject his foe and make his escape. A high-speed chase ends when Bond is dazzled by a mirror and crashes into a wall in the factory complex (again, the Pinewood lot).

When he wakes up, 007 finds himself strapped to a metal table in a laboratory. Goldfinger tells Bond that one of the Chinese agents recognized him and his real identity is known. Goldfinger activates an industrial laser which begins to slowly work its way towards Bond’s groin, cutting through the table. Bond bluffs his way out of this rather nasty death by mentioning Operation Grandslam, a phrase he overheard at the factory. Goldfinger decides that Bond is worth more to him alive has one of his men shoot him with a tranquilizer dart.

Bond regains consciousness on Goldfinger’s private jet, being watched over by Pussy Galore, his pilot. The destination is Baltimore to meet Goldfinger again. 007’s charm fails to work on Pussy, so he tries to woo the hostess Mai Lei – she lets him use the aircraft’s bathroom. Bond soon twigs that he is being spied on but managed to activate one of the tracking gadgets and put it into his shoe without being noticed.

Felix Leiter picks up Bond’s homing signal and reports this to M who warns him not to rush in and blow the operation. Bond arrives in Baltimore at the ‘Blue Grass Airfield, Kentucky’ – which is in fact Northolt Aerodrome – and witnesses a display by Pussy’s stunt pilot team. Oddjob is waiting for him and drives our man to Goldfinger’s stud farm – another Pinewood set. He is sent to a cell while Goldfinger addresses a meeting of mob leaders.

Bond manages to escape from his cell and listens in to the whole plan. The mafia has been used to transport nerve gas to Goldfinger’s ranch; this gas will be sprayed over Fort Knox by the planes of Pussy Galore’s Flying Circus. He will then blow his way into the vault to steal its contents. The plot continues to twist and turn as Bond is recaptured by Pussy, the mobsters are gassed with one exception, Solo, and Bond manages to plant the tracking device and written details of the plan in Solo’s pocket. Solo is killed by Oddjob but they are trailed by Leiter.

Image obtained from under Creative Commons (c) cwdiaz

007 finally manages to inform the CIA who make a plan to stop Goldfinger when he attacks Fort Knox. The day of the heist arrives and we get some exterior shots of the real Fort Knox, Kentucky, south of Louisville. That’s where it ends, however, as reality was far too dull for a Bond movie. The complex was recreated at Black Park Woodland behind the studio at Pinewood. The imaginatively designed interior was created on a soundstage and is the setting for the epic battle. Goldfinger escapes, however, only to hijack a plane which was intended for Bond and meets his end through a quick lesson in the dangers of cabin pressurization.


The classic lines

Bond: “You expect me to talk?”

Goldfinger: “No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die!”

Pussy: “My name is Pussy Galore.”

Bond: “I must be dreaming!”

Bond: “Shocking! Positively shocking!”

Pussy: “Where’s Goldfinger?”

Bond: “Playing his golden harp.”

Q: “I never joke about my work, 007!”

Hawker: “If that’s his original ball, I’m Arnold Palmer.”

James Bond: “It isn’t.”

Hawker: “How do you know?”

Bond: “I’m standing on it.”

Goldfinger: “Choose your next witticism carefully Mr Bond, it may be your last.”


The trivia

Honor Blackman was the first Bond girl to have a proper acting background. Blackman left her role as Cathy Gale on “The Avengers” (1961) to appear in Goldfinger. A 1965 episode of “The Avengers” made a sly reference to this when John Steed received a postcard from Cathy Gale – sent from Fort Knox.

Nadja Regin (Bonita the nightclub dancer) had previously appeared in From Russia with Love (1963).

Margaret Nolan (Dink) is also seen in the opening credits sequence.

The opening credits include scenes from Goldfinger as well as from Dr. No (1962) (the golf putt) and From Russia with Love (1963) (the helicopter). One of the Goldfinger scenes shown (where Bond visits Q Branch) isn’t actually in the film.

Actor Gert Fröbe spoke very little English so in time-honoured Bond movie tradition his lines were dubbed, this time by actor Michael Collins. Yet in the trailer for the film you can hear Fröbe’s own voice when Goldfinger tells James, “Choose your next witticism carefully, Mr. Bond, it may be your last.”

Orson Welles was the producers’ first choice to play Auric Goldfinger, but Welles was too expensive. In the end Gert Fröbe caused headaches by arguing over his salary and demanding 10% from the movie’s earnings, so they began to wonder whether Welles would have been cheaper after all.

Jack Lord was asked to return as CIA agent Felix Leiter, but declined. The role was recast, the first of many times – only David Hedison played the role more than once.

Ian Fleming used the name “Goldfinger” because he couldn’t stand the Hungarian modernist architect Erno Goldfinger.

Goldfinger’s first name, Auric, is an adjective meaning ‘of gold’ (from the Latin word for gold, ‘aurum’).

This is the first appearance of the Q-Branch workshop and its gadget testing area.

It took two hours in make-up to cover Shirley Eaton in gold paint.

In the film Bond says that Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton) died of “skin suffocation” by being coated in gold. While many believe this to be possible, it has no basis in fact. “MythBusters” (Discovery Channel) tested this risk. After two experiments no deadly effects were revealed – not all that surprising since human skin plays little or no role in respiration.

Tilly Masterson’s Ford Mustang was supposedly the first appearance by a Mustang in a major motion picture.

Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 was actually two cars, one of which wasn’t really a DB5 at all. The gadgets were built into a DB4 Vantage which Aston Martin had used as the prototype for the DB5 model, which went into production in 1963. A production DB5 was also supplied for close-ups. It’s easy to tell the difference – the close-up car has orange reflectors on the front wings but the “gadget” car doesn’t, the gadget car has chrome trim around the rear number plate but the close-up car doesn’t.

Sean Connery never set foot in America during filming.

In the novel, Pussy Galore is a lesbian, which is why she is ‘immune’ to Bond’s charms in the beginning.

Pussy Galore introduces herself to Bond, who comes back with “I must be dreaming.” Originally the script had Bond replying “I know you are, but what’s your name?” This was changed as it was deemed too suggestive.

The typeface of “Pussy Galore’s Flying Circus” on the banner is identical to the one used for Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

Sean Connery injured his back during the fight sequence with Oddjob in Fort Knox. The incident caused a delay in filming and it is alleged that Connery used the incident to secure a better deal from the producers for his next Bond film.

The producers had to pay for the Aston Martin used in Goldfinger; but after the success of the film – both at the box office and for the company – they never had to spend money on a car again.

In the original cut of the film, the bomb’s timer stopped at 003, which explains Bond’s line about “three more clicks.” It was later changed to 007 for obvious reasons.

Goldfinger was intended to be less political and lighter in tone than the first two Bond films.

At the end of the original UK release the audience could read that “James Bond will return in ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service'” but by the time the film was released in America the producers changed their mind and the credits were changed to show “Thunderball” instead.

It was the first Bond film to be released in the UK and USA the same year.

After the film’s release rumours began spreading that Shirley Eaton had actually died on set due to the misconception that the gold paint caused asphyxiation.

Apparently Sean Connery has only ever seen the film twice – once at its premiere, and again some years later at his granddaughter’s insistence.

In the early 1990s a survey revealed that around 80% of the movie-going public had seen Goldfinger at least once.

When interviewed by Robert Osborne of the Hollywood Reporter on 12 April 1982, Broccoli named Goldfinger as one of his favourite Bond films along with From Russia With Love [1963] and The Spy Who Loved Me [1977].

The goofs and gaffes

Watch closely when 007 enters his hotel room – he hangs his gun on a peg that is far from the bath tub. When the assassin lands in the bath the gun is conveniently within easy reach.

The reflection that Bond sees in the girl’s eye would be a mirror image in reality.

Keep your eye on the position of Smithers’s hand and cigar as they jump between shots.

The cards on the table are blue before Goldfinger joins his opponent, but when he sits down and the game starts, the cards are red. (You can see another deck of (red) cards on the table but they are untouched throughout the scene.)

You can see the shadow of the camera and boom mike on the cupboards as Bond comes round after being hit by Oddjob.

When Oddjob uses his hat to severe the statue’s head, the hat continues spinning away from the statue. But in the next shot it is on the ground beside the statue’s head – a boomerang hat perhaps?

When Goldfinger and Bond are talking after the golf match, Goldfinger is sitting in the back seat of his Rolls-Royce. When the car drives off, the back seat is empty.

When Tilly falls after being killed by Oddjob’s hat, she lands on her back. Presumably she wasn’t quite dead as when 007 comes over to kneel beside her, she is face down.

In what must be an exceptional piece of ventriloquism you can see that Goldfinger’s lips never move when he is talking to Mr. Ling about melting down the gold from the car.

The scenes inside Pussy Galore’s JetStar are completely out of proportion for this aircraft. There is barely room for two small seats next to each other inside a JetStar. Indeed Bond would not be able to stand up straight in the cabin of a JetStar.

After the Lincoln is crushed, it is lowered onto the bed of Oddjob’s pickup. This would have crushed it – a 1964 Lincoln weighs almost 5000 lbs, not including the extra weight of the gold that was supposed to be in it. The maximum load weight for this Ranchero pickup was about 1000 lbs.

With the soldiers unconscious after the nerve gas, an army jeep leads the convoy to the gold depository. Keep watching as it switches back and forth from a WW2-era jeep to a much later 1950s-style jeep. To join in the fun the trucks also change between shots.

The huge metal door of Fort Knox flutters to the ground after being cut by the laser.

In the Fort Knox vault itself, there is no way the gold could be stacked so high. Given the weight and softness of gold, the lower bars of the stacks would be squashed by the sheer weight of the gold bars above them.

Bond picks up a stick-like object off the floor as a weapon during the fight with Oddjob. In the next shot Bond waves the stick and is about to attack Oddjob, but is quite clearly a stunt double with a different physique and hair.

When the cabin loses pressure, one of Goldfinger’s soldiers is lying on the floor, implying that some of this scene was cut.


We hope you enjoyed this article. James Bond will return in the next installment of the series – Thunderball

Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

I know what it's like to go from being a crazy backpacker without a care in the world, via being a vaguely sensible parent to being an adventurer once more. In other words, evolving into a Grown-up Traveller.

Like everyone else, I love to travel, have visited a lot of countries and all that but my big thing is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

Articles: 1259

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