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"I just can't wait to see that bastard over the barrel." (James Bond)
am 3. Dezember 2014
Goldfinger is the seventh novel in Ian Fleming's James Bond series, first published by Jonathan Cape in 1959. When Fleming settled in at his villa `Goldeneye' on Jamaica - as he did every year to churn out a new 007 adventure - he was probably pleased about an adequate typewriter, the Royal Quiet De Luxe, produced in a very limited edition... made of gold. Not solid gold, but plated nevertheless. However, his health had deteriorated and after completion of the novel, he had already announced to William Plomer, who had worked with him in Naval Intelligence that Goldfinger would have to be the last full-length Bond novel.
He was well prepared in every way, as he had researched the secret ingredient in this novel thoroughly - gold. He knew exactly how gold was tested for carat, how it was transported and stored and smuggled, even how the accounting was done in the business. He had sent questionnaires to the Bank of England's experts to learn about the latest gold-smuggling rackets and how gold could be oxidized and a City gold merchant allowed him to spend a day at his smelting rooms. In the end, Fleming probably liked gold as much as Auric Goldfinger, the villain in the book.
The emphasis of this book is different from that of the former Bond adventures, gone is the obsessive concern with suffering and there is none of the nostalgia that had crept into his musings like "From Russia with Love", he is presented as a more developed individual. The first question in the book is, why would the world's top gold smuggler and richest man in England cheat at two hand canasta? And what is Goldfinger doing with all that gold he is collecting in a huge chain of pawn shops? Bond decides to meet the man accidendally on the golf course in order to feel him out. Then follows a golf game running full 26 pages - well, at this point any reader will ask, how could an author devote that amount of pages to a round of golf without sounding mind-numbingly boring. Fleming can - and does because amidst the roughs and birdies, Bond digs up valuable information.
This leads to the discovery that the man, Auric Goldfinger is working as treasurer for the Soviet assassination agency SMERSH. Bond is then sent on a mission to find Goldfinger's supply of gold which leads him to a warehouse in Geneva where he meets Tilly Masterson. Bond is captured and tortured for information but blacks out. He then wakes up in New York and is taken to Goldfinger's dépendance, where he and Masterson are forced to work as personal assistant and secretary for Goldfinger. Bond learns that Goldfinger intends to steal fifteen billion dollars worth of gold bullion from the U.S. Bullion Depository at Fort Knox. Bond, along with Felix Leiter (who now works for Pinkerton's), does everything to prevent Goldfinger from executing his plan, which involves killing the soldiers of Fort Knox with water-borne nerve agent and then using a stolen tactical atomic missile warhead to break into Fort Knox's impregnable vault.
And again, the book's villain had a real-life antecedent; Auric Goldfinger "a misshapen short man with red hair and a bizarre face" in Fleming's description and had the author's "flat golf swing" and the surname of a prominent British architect, Ernö Goldfinger, whose penchant for concrete tower blocks Fleming abhorred.
The resulting movie was probably one of the liveliest and most amusing of the Bond spy spoofs. It was big budget for its time and apart from a convincing Sean Connery and Honor Blackman, it is worth seeing for the excellent performance of Gert Fröbe as Goldfinger. But Ian Fleming was not to see it, he died at Canterbury Hospital on August 12, 1964, only a month before the film was released in the UK.
P.S.: If you are a collector of everthing Bondian and intend to buy a true first edition of the book, keep some 4,000 dollars handy. If you set your heart on Bond memorabilia, e.g. Odd Job's deadly Bowler hat, it was auctioned off about four years ago at $ 65.000. In case you are dreaming about the original Aston Martin DB5 prototype, just keep dreaming. For a more personal object, namely Ian Fleming's gold plated typewriter, you'd have to contact Pierce Brosnan who apparently bought it in the 1990s at an undisclosed price.