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Auric Goldfinger is a fictional character and the main antagonist in the James Bond film and novel Goldfinger. His first name, Auric, is an adjective meaning of gold. Ian Fleming chose the name to commemorate the architect Ernő Goldfinger, who had built his home in Hampstead, near to Fleming's; it is possible, though unlikely, that he disliked Goldfinger's style of architecture and destruction of Victorian terraces and decided to name a memorable villain after him.[1] According to a 1965 Forbes article and The New York Times, the Goldfinger persona was based on gold mining magnate Charles W. Engelhard, Jr.[2]

In 2003, the American Film Institute declared Auric Goldfinger the 49th greatest villain in the past 100 years of film. In a poll on IMDb, Auric Goldfinger was voted the most sinister James Bond villain, beating out in order Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Dr. No, Max Zorin, and Emilio Largo.[3] Wizard Magazine listed Auric Goldfinger as the 91st greatest villain of all time.[citation needed]

Auric Goldfinger was played by German actor Gert Fröbe. Goldfinger was banned in Israel after it was revealed that Fröbe had been a member of the Nazi party during World War II. The ban, however, was lifted many years later when a Jewish family publicly thanked Fröbe for protecting them from persecution during the war.

Gert Fröbe, who did not speak English well, was dubbed in the film by Michael Collins, an English actor. In the German version, Fröbe dubbed himself back again. Of his role as Goldfinger, Fröbe later remarked: "I am a big man, and I have a laugh to match my size. The ridiculous thing is that since I played Goldfinger in the James Bond film there are some people who still insist on seeing me as a cold, ruthless villain - a man without laughs."[citation needed]

Novel biography

In the novel, Auric Goldfinger is a 42-year-old expatriate who emigrated at age 20 in 1937 from Riga, Latvia. He is 5 feet (152 cm) tall, has blue eyes, red hair, and has a passion for his tan.

Goldfinger's name was borrowed from Ian Fleming's neighbour in his Hampstead home, architect Ernő Goldfinger, and his character bears some resemblance.[4] Ernő Goldfinger consulted his lawyers when the book was published, prompting Fleming to suggest renaming the character "Goldprick", but Goldfinger eventually settled out of court in return for his legal costs, six copies of the novel, and an agreement that the character's first name 'Auric' would always be used. Goldfinger is typically a German-Jewish name, and the protagonists of the novel know this, but neither Bond nor Mr. Du Pont think Goldfinger is Jewish. Instead, Bond pegs the red-haired, blue-eyed man as a Balt. And, indeed, Goldfinger proves an expatriate Latvian.[5]

Now a UK commonwealth citizen naturalised to Nassau, he has become the richest man in England, though his wealth is not in English banks and he hasn't paid taxes on it. Rather, it is spread as gold bullion in many countries. Goldfinger is the treasurer of SMERSH, Bond's nemesis. Goldfinger fancies himself an expert pistol shot who never misses, and always shoots his opponents through the right eye. He tells Bond he has done so with four Mafia heads at the end of the novel.

Goldfinger is obsessed with gold, going so far as to have yellow-bound erotic photographs, and have his lovers painted head to toe in gold so that he can make love to gold. (He leaves an area near the spine unpainted, but painting this area also is what kills Jill Masterton, as in the film). He is also a jeweller, a metallurgist, and a smuggler.

When Goldfinger first meets Bond in Miami, he claims that he is agoraphobic; a ploy to allow him to cheat a previous acquaintance of Bond's at a game of two-handed Canasta. Bond figures out how Goldfinger is managing this, and blackmails him by forcing him to admit his deception. This incident also establishes Goldfinger as boundlessly greedy - as whatever sums he can gain by this elaborate cheating are negligible compared with what he already has in his possession.

Goldfinger is also an avid golfer, but is known at his club for being a smooth cheater there, also. When Bond contrives to play a match with Goldfinger, he again cheats the cheater by switching Goldfinger's Dunlop 1 golf ball with a Dunlop 7 he had found while playing.

In both the novel and film, Goldfinger is aided in his crimes by his manservant, Oddjob, a mute, monstrously strong Korean who ruthlessly eliminates any threat to his employer's affairs.

Goldfinger is the owner of "Enterprises Auric A.G." in Switzerland, maker of metal furniture, which is purchased by many airlines including Air India. Twice a year, Goldfinger drives his vintage Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost car from England to Enterprises Auric. Bond learns that Goldfinger makes dead drops of gold bars for SMERSH along the way, and that his car's bodywork is 18 carat (75%), solid white gold under the ploy that the added weight is armour plating. Once at Enterprises Auric, his car is stripped down, melted and made into seating for an airline company that Enterprises Auric is heavily invested in. The plane(s) are then flown to India where the seats are melted down again into gold bars and sold for a much higher premium rate; 100 to 200 percent profit.

Operation Grand Slam

Frobe1

Goldfinger during "Operation Grand Slam".

In the novel, Goldfinger captures Bond and threatens to cut him in half with a high-power buzz saw. Bond is also tortured at the same time, as Oddjob works his pressure points. He offers to work for Goldfinger in exchange for his life, but Goldfinger initially refuses to spare his prisoner as Bond blacks out.

He wakes to find that Goldfinger is going to take him up on his offer after all, however. Bond becomes Goldfinger's prisoner and secretary (the unlikelihood of which led to a recurrent joke in the spoof Austin Powers films). While working at this job he finds out about "Operation Grand Slam." This is Goldfinger's codename for his scheme that involves "knocking off" the U.S. Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Through the use of a nerve agent (GB, also known as Sarin), Goldfinger plans to poison the water supply at Fort Knox, killing everyone at the base. From there, Goldfinger would use an atomic bomb designed for a Corporal Intermediate Range Guided Missile that he had purchased for one million USD in Germany, to blow open Fort Knox's impregnable vault. With the help of American gangsters, Goldfinger would then remove roughly $15 billion in gold bullion by truck and train, and escape to the Soviet Union on a cargo boat.

(After publication of the novel, the details of "Operation Grand Slam" were questioned, with critics noting it would have taken hours if not days to remove $15 billion from Fort Knox, during which the U.S. Army would inevitably intervene. The issue of getting every soldier on the base to drink the poisoned water without an alarm was also raised. A final problem that was the "clean" atomic bomb, tactical or not, in all likelihood would not only have annihilated the vault. Consequently, the film uses a different plan: The bomb is dirty, and the destruction and contamination of the gold, not its theft, is the objective, so that the value of Goldfinger's own gold would increase tenfold. The film points out logistical flaws in the novel's original plan during a confrontation between Goldfinger and Bond.)

Bond foils Goldfinger's plan by getting word to Felix Leiter of the impending operation, by means of a message taped inside an airliner toilet. With the help of The Pentagon, Leiter is able to stop Goldfinger and foil the operation. Goldfinger escapes, however.

Conclusion

Later, Goldfinger and his henchman learn from SMERSH who Bond is, and determine to take him with them in defecting to the Soviet Union. They pose as doctors to incapacitate crew and passengers (including Bond) with drugged inoculations. Then they hijack the BOAC Boeing 377 Stratocruiser (service ceiling 32,000 ft), carrying Goldfinger's total savings of gold. The hijacked plane is headed for Soviet Union airspace. In the novel, Oddjob meets his end when he is sucked through an airliner window after Bond pierces it with a knife. Goldfinger then attacks Bond by kicking him. Bond and Goldfinger engage in a brief struggle, during which Bond is seized by a violent rage for the first time in his life, strangling Goldfinger to death. Bond then turns to the pilots and forces the airplane to turn back from its intended flightpath, and this causes it to ditch in the ocean after running out of fuel. The airplane sinks rapidly (presumably due to its payload of gold), with Bond and Goldfinger's pilot, Pussy Galore, as the only survivors.

Henchmen

Associates

In addition to Henchmen, Goldfinger enlists the help of several American gangsters:

  • Helmut M. Springer — The Purple Gang (Detroit) (This gang is not fictional, but existed historically).
    Springer backs out of the deal and does not participate in Goldfinger's Operation Grand Slam. Moments later, Springer has an "accident", falling down the staircase as he is leaving. In fact, he and his bodyguard are killed by Oddjob.
  • Jed Midnight — Shadow Syndicate (Miami, Havana)
  • Billy (The Grinner) Ring — The Machine (Chicago)
  • Jack Strap — The Spangled Mob (Las Vegas); see Diamonds Are Forever
  • Mr. Solo — Unione Siciliano (the Mafia)
  • Miss Pussy Galore — The Cement Mixers (Harlem, New York City) The Cement Mixers had previously been a band of all-female acrobats headed by trapeze artist Pussy Galore, called Pussy Galore and the Abrocats. When their act failed, they had become cat-burglars. Pussy in Fleming's novel is openly lesbian, but is ultimately seduced by Bond.

Goldfingerisms from the novel

  • "Money is an effective winding sheet."
  • "The safest way to double your money is to fold it twice and put it in your pocket."
  • "Laws are the crystallised prejudices of society."
  • "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action." (Attributed as a saying in Chicago, and used in three sections also as titles for the novel's three main sections.)
  • "Riches may not make you friends, but they greatly increase the quality of your enemies."

Film biography

In the film, Goldfinger is a gold smuggler, accomplishing this feat by having a car built with gold body castings and transporting it via airplane. Once the car arrives at its destination, Goldfinger has the body-work re-smelted. However, this secret smuggling operation drew suspicion from Colonel Smithers of the Bank of England and it resulted in Bond being sent to investigate. Goldfinger is also an avid golfer who plays with a Slazenger 1 golf ball (changed from a Dunlop in the novel presumably for legal reasons). He is defeated, however, when he is tricked by Bond after attempting to cheat.

Auric Goldfinger owns many properties throughout the world including "Auric Enterprises, AG", which is the headquarters for most of his smuggling operations. Located in Switzerland, it is where Bond is nearly cut in half by an industrial laser when Goldfinger has him bound to a table.

The film also contains what are considered two of the most famous exchanges between Bond and a villain:

Bond: "I think you made your point. Thank you for the demonstration."
Goldfinger: "Choose your next witticism carefully, Mr. Bond. It may be your last."

and

Bond: "Do you expect me to talk?"
Goldfinger: "No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die."

Goldfinger also owns a stud-farm in Kentucky called "Auric Stud".

In the film, Felix Leiter says that Goldfinger is British, however this may simply mean he possesses British citizenship, judging by his accent and red-blond hair he is probably German by birth. Fröbe was chosen as the villain because producers Saltzman and Broccoli had seen his performance in a German thriller titled Es geschah am hellichten Tag (It happened in broad daylight, 1958), which is based on the story Das Versprechen (The Pledge), by Friedrich Dürrenmatt. In that film, Fröbe played a serial killer named Schrott, who kills children to vent his frustrations with his domineering wife. Broccoli and Saltzman had seen the movie and decided upon the 'big bad German' for the role. In the film, Goldfinger reveals his fascination with Nazi gold when Bond tempts him to betting high stakes against a lost, historical Nazi gold bar, an incident not in the novel (the golf game is merely for a large amount of cash).

Scheme

Goldfinger's film scheme, codenamed "Operation Grand Slam", involves breaking into the U.S. Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, penetrating the main storage building with the high powered laser, and detonating a dirty nuclear weapon inside, thus contaminating the United States gold reserve and thereby dramatically increasing the value of his gold holdings (while also providing the Communist Chinese, from whom Goldfinger has obtained the nuclear material, an opportunity to create economic chaos in the West).

Death

After his plan to contaminate the gold is thwarted, Goldfinger tricks Bond into getting onto his private jet as it takes off for Cuba. After Bond has boarded the plane and it has taken off, Goldfinger appears and announces his intention to kill him, but when Bond makes a grab for his golden pistol it goes off and shatters a window. In the fate suffered by his henchman Oddjob in the novel, he is sucked out of the cabin to his doom, but Bond and Pussy Galore (the pilot) manage to escape the plane just before it crashes into the ocean, parachuting to safety on an island. Before parachuting from the plane, Pussy inquires about Goldfinger's fate, prompting Bond to quip that he's "playing his golden harp."[6]

Henchmen

Goldfinger's golden motifs

  • In the novel Goldfinger has a yellow-jacketed pornographic book and gold-painted prostitutes, a yellow-painted car, yellow briefs for sunbathing, a blonde secretary, and a ginger-coloured cat (which is eaten by Oddjob). He employs Korean servants who are repeatedly referred to as "yellow-faced." In compensation, the film adds many similar motifs by making Goldfinger's female henchwomen in the film (save his jet stewardess, who is Korean) red-blonde, or blonde, including Pussy and all of her crew (both Tilly Masterson and Pussy specifically have black hair in the novel). Goldfinger also sports yellow or golden items of clothing in every film scene, including a golden pistol when disguised as a Colonel. Goldfinger's factory henchmen in the film wear yellow sashes, Pussy at one point wears a metallic gold vest, and Pussy's pilots wear yellow sunburst insignia on their uniforms. A bit of Goldfinger's homage to gold ("I love its colour, its brilliance, its divine heaviness") is one of few dialogue lines from the novel to be kept relatively intact in the film.
  • Goldfinger's Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost of the novel is particularly appropriate for a personal armoured car capable of carrying heavy white-gold armour (which would have appeared silver), as some of this model was converted to the Rolls-Royce Armoured Car during and after W.W. I. This car is replaced in the film with a newer (1937) yellow-painted Rolls Royce Phantom III with "18 kt. gold bodywork." The license plate of this car is AU 1.
  • In the novel, Goldfinger may even eat and drink gold. At his house, Goldfinger and Bond dine on cheese soufflé, and curry (which in pre-1970 Britain referred to a dish coloured yellow with turmeric; see British section in Curry#British_cuisine), and Bond drinks Piesporter Goldtröpfchen wine (named for town and vineyard, but like all white wines, gold in colour).

Goldfinger in popular culture, and appearance in later fictional works and games

See also

References


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