Study Guide

Goldfinger Production Design

Production Design

Magic of Film

Reality is dull. Bond makes it interesting.

Fort Knox's gold reserves don't take up all that much room, as journalists discovered when they were allowed inside the vault in 1974. Goldfinger's filmmakers weren't actually allowed inside the vault. In fact, they were afraid to get too close to it, for fear of being shot by machine guns mounted on the roof (source). So they used their imagination to jazz it all up for audiences. Set designer Ken Adam created a stunning multi-level set, providing a dramatic backdrop for Bond and Oddjob's climactic showdown.

Despite being set in the United States, most of the scenes were shot at Pinewood Studios in England. The film's editor, Peter R. Hunt, then composited the actors onto backdrops, like the Miami Beach hotel or Goldfinger's Swiss smelting factory. Through the magic of film, the actors were made to look like they were on location thousands of miles away. It must have been like playing with life-sized action figures.

When they weren't pasting actors onto other backdrops, the editors were pasting someone else's voice into Goldfinger actor Gert Fröbe's mouth. Because Fröbe barely spoke a word of English, he phonetically recited his dialog to the best of his ability, and was dubbed by another actor, Michael Collins (source).

Finally, although they didn't have to worry about bleeping out any of Goldfinger's dialogue, the producers grappled with censors on both sides of the pond. Director Guy Hamilton remarked on the difficulty of balancing the film for the taste of both bloodthirsty American prudes and gun-shy Brits: "The American censor, absolutely constipated about sex; the British censor couldn't have cared less about that. The British censor, panic-stricken about violence; the American censor, totally indifferent about that. So one was doing a fairly fine balancing act" (source). Bond may have been jumping out of planes on screen, but the producers were walking a tightrope behind the scenes.

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