Tuesday, 12 January 2010

“Goldfinger” on BLU RAY. A Review of Bond’s 3rd and Some Say Best Film Now Reissued on a 2009 BLU RAY.

"…Revolving Number Plates… Valid All Countries Naturally…"

When the “Ultimate Edition” 2DVD sets of the Bond films were finally released in July 2006, most fans couldn’t believe their luck or their eyes. It didn’t seem to matter which of the 20 films you bought – due to the Pristine Lowry Digital Restoration Process (frame-by-frame clean up that apparently took two years to achieve), they were all jaw dropping - simply spectacular to look at. And each was bolstered up with spiffy new 007 menus and period special features that were informative and actually worth seeing.

It should therefore come as no surprise that this 2009 BLU RAY reissue of 1964’s “Goldfinger” (directed by Guy Hamilton) uses those same cleaned-up elements and extras - and is an awesome thing to behold.

To put this into an actual context – here’s some examples of how revelatory the print actually is – in the pre opening-credits sequence when 007 plants his detonation devices, Connery then peels out of what is supposed to be a wetsuit, but you can clearly see it’s black/blue silk outfit to offset his immaculate white tuxedo beneath (then he buttonhole’s his red carnation in incredible clarity). When he comes out onto the hotel balcony in Miami and lies down beside Gill Masterson on the sun-lounge (Shirley Eaton instructing Gert Frobe via binoculars as to what the other card player is holding), on the close up of 007’s face, you can clearly see applied make-up on his cheeks – it’s Bond in blusher!

Or how about this… as Bond talks to Auric Goldfinger on the golf-course before they tee off, you can just about make out the dividing lines between the square tuffs of grass they laid out to make the tee-off area look more lush. Then there’s the deep black enamel of the AU 1 number plate on the Phantom 337 as its loaded into a transport plane bound for Geneva… Pussy Galore as Bond wakes up on the Lockheed en route to the USA – her golden blonde hair slowly coming into focus in dazzling sexy clarity… and on it goes…scene after scene of unbelievable detail – leaves in Mint Julep drinks – the two moles on the left side of Honor Blackman’s face…yikes!

All the elements came together on "Goldfinger" that would set up a template for decades to come - the eye-catching opening sequence, the sexy credits and the new Bond song, the gadgets, the fearsome unkillable bad guy, the leggy molls who may or may not have your best interests at heart, the cars and gadgets, Desmond Llewelyn as the exasperated Q and Bernard Lee as the permanently frowning M. Throw in the Aston Martin DB 5 with its fantastically handy ejector seat and Harold Sakata as the Korean assassin Oddjob and his chop-your-head-off bowler hat - and you're on a winner. And then of course the film's ultimate trump card - Sean Connery - sex on legs - a man with something permanently lodged down his trousers and we're not talking about starched Y-fronts. He'll kill you, smile afterwards and then flick the bits off of his immaculately groomed Saville Row suit...

You also forget about the great one-liners - "shocking...positively shocking" as he fries the bad guy in the bath; "The President has expressed satisfaction...that makes two of us..." Bond says as he rolls off a babe and turns off the radio; "...Unfortunately he has a pressing engagement..." Goldfinger says as he dispatches Mr. Solo (one of the hoods) off to the car-crusher. It's all so bloody good - and it still makes you tingle.

Luckily the extras have survived intact too - there's a commentary from members of the cast and crew, a revealing on-set interview with a suited-and-booted Connery, the "Declassified: M16 Vault" feature which is just so enjoyable. Although I love the outer card wrap, which gives it a classy feel and a uniform look when lined up against the other titles in the series (not all are available yet), it's a real shame that there's no commemorative booklet - it would be such a sweet touch.

To sum up - when Sean Connery pulls the parachute silk over him and Honor Blackman at the end of the movie as and announces "...this is no time to be saved!" - you can't help but feel that the dapper British agent has a point.

Bond 3 on BLU RAY is surely up there with the very best restorations ever done - a triumph - and that the movie is still such a blast after 35 years of endless re-watches is a testament to its durability.

"Goldfinger" is in fact like Sophia Loren - it never ages and will always ooze sex - it's ample chest and tiny waistline will be making grown men go weak at the knees in a hundred years from now. And even if that bad guy's laser beam is getting a little too close to all of our privates these days - you can buy this Martini of a film, put on the tux, pull in the girdle - and cheer yourself up no end.

Love it. Love it. Love it.

PS: for other superb restorations on BLU RAY, see also my reviews for "The Italian Job", "Saturday Night, Sunday Morning", "The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner", "Zulu", "North By Northwest" and "Cool Hand Luke"

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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