Goldfinger opens with a duck swimming in the water. What is this, the Daily Show's "Moment of Zen"?
No. Things get a lot less Zen when the duck turns out to be a hat worn by James Bond to help him sneak undetected into a drug dealer's secret compound. Bond sets a bomb and blows the place sky high, then unzips his wetsuit to reveal one of the most impressive Bond gadgets of all time—a wrinkle-free suit.
In his dapper disguise, Bond slips into a nearby bar. No one suspects he's the one who just blew up the drug den. He reports to his contact in the bar, then decides to have another explosive encounter—this one with the bar's sultry dancer. Bond meets her in her room, where he is attacked by an armed thug. The dancer is knocked out in the struggle, which ends when Bond dumps his assailant into the bathtub and electrocutes him. A tragic end for Mr. Bubble.
Later, Bond's Miami Beach vacay is interrupted when his American colleague, Felix, gives him a mission from M—to foil the plot of Auric Goldfinger, who's been running a gambling scam by the pool. Bond discovers that Goldfinger has an informant in a hotel room who is spying on his opponent and telling him the contents of his hand through an earpiece.
Bond lets himself into Goldfinger's hotel room, where he finds the informant is a beautiful woman named Jill Masterson. In classic Bond fashion, he foils the bad guy's plot and gets the girl.
But not for long.
That evening, Bond is knocked unconscious in his room. When he wakes, he finds Jill dead and covered in gold paint. He suspects that Goldfinger, the "Man with the Midas touch" from the opening credits, is the culprit.
Back at headquarters, Bond is briefed on why MI6 has been keeping tabs on Goldfinger. The Treasury suspects he is smuggling gold out of the country. No, really: a man named Goldfinger smuggling gold? Perhaps they'd never have caught on if he were smuggling some other valuables, like diamonds or Hatchimals.
During a golf game, Bond attempts to seduce Goldfinger. No, not the way he seduces women: he seduces Goldfinger with the promise of a large gold bar, given to him by the Treasury to use as bait (although Goldfinger doesn't know that).
However, Bond wins at the golf game, despite Goldfinger trying to cheat his way to victory. His ego bruised, Goldfinger angrily leaves the country club, but not before ordering his caddie, Oddjob, to demonstrate his superhuman strength to Bond. Oddjob throws his hat so hard it decapitates a statue, and then he crushes a golf ball in the palm of his hand. Can Tiger Woods do that?
Unintimidated, Bond follows Goldfinger to Geneva. A beautiful woman distracts Bond temporarily, when she passes him on the highway. However, while Bond is spying on Goldfinger, the woman shoots at Bond from a distance with a sniper rifle. Sounds like her reckless driving isn't the most dangerous thing about her.
Bond pursues the gorgeous sniper, running her car off the road. Pretending it was a simple accident, he offers to give her a lift. In the car, the woman says her name is Tilly Soames, even though the initials on her case are T. M. Either she's a terrible speller, or she's lying.
Bond drops the lying sniper off at a garage, then continues to Goldfinger's compound. There, he learns that Goldfinger's car is made of gold. While not being very aerodynamic, the car enables Goldfinger to smuggle gold between countries simply by driving it across a border, then melting it down in his factory. Ingenious.
While eavesdropping, Bond overhears Goldfinger mention another plan—Operation Grand Slam. Will he be turning all Denny's pancakes into gold? Before he can learn what Operation Grand Slam is all about, Bond sees Tilly the sniper in the woods. Bond tackles her, and she confesses that she wasn't shooting at him—she was shooting at Goldfinger. And she's as bad a shot as she is bad at lying.
Tilly wants Goldfinger dead to avenge her sister. Bond realizes that Tilly is golden girl Jill's sister, and he wants to ally with her, although he wants Goldfinger alive. Unfortunately, Tilly is also bad at remaining undetected. She trips an alarm, forcing them to run from Goldfinger's henchmen.
After a high-speed chase, Bond and Tilly are cornered by Oddjob, who kills Tilly with a well-placed fling of his hat. Bond is taken hostage and strangely allowed to drive himself back to Goldfinger's lair. Can the bad guys not drive stick? Bond uses the Aston Martin's ejector seat to launch his captor into the stratosphere. He attempts to make a break for it but crashes into a wall. Too bad the Aston Martin didn't come equipped with external bumpers.
Bond regains consciousness in Goldfinger's inner sanctum, where he finds himself chained to a solid gold table. Not only is it tacky, but it also has a high-strength laser aimed right at it. Goldfinger activates the laser, which slowly slices the table in two as its deadly beam approaches Bond's Thunderballs.
Bond, better at lying than Tilly is, convinces Goldfinger that if he dies, he will be replaced by 008, who knows all about Operation Grand Slam. This is enough to convince Goldfinger to keep Bond alive, but captive, in one of the worst places humanly imaginable…oh, it's just Kentucky.
Once again knocked unconscious, Bond wakes up on Goldfinger's private jet, which is piloted by his private pilot, Pussy Galore. Pussy informs Bond that they're going to Goldfinger's Stud Farm in Kentucky, which must be the place Sean Connery was born. At the Farm, Bond is locked in a cell, which he soon breaks out of thanks to the fact that all of Goldfinger's henchmen are morons.
Sneaking through the farm, Bond is able to eavesdrop on Goldfinger and learn what Operation Grand Slam is really about: Goldfinger plans to rob Fort Knox of the U.S. gold reserves. Realizing it's futile to keep Bond captive, Goldfinger allows Bond to remain out of his cell, but he assigns Pussy to keep watch on Bond.
Having a mint julep with Goldfinger, Bond grills him on Operation Grand Slam. The whole plan is ridiculous. Pussy's pilots, named Pussy Galore's Flying Circus, will dump nerve gas over Fort Knox, knoxing out—err, knocking out all the soldiers. But Bond knows that Goldfinger can't possibly carry out all that heavy gold before reinforcements arrive.
That's when he realizes that Goldfinger doesn't plan to steal the Fort's gold. Goldfinger, in classic villain fashion, spills the golden beans to Bond: he plans to use a nuclear warhead to nuke the reserves, rendering the U.S. bankrupt and throwing the market into chaos. With the U.S. gold reserves gone, his own gold will be much more valuable. It really is quite genius.
But Bond still must stop him. He seduces Pussy in a barn in order to convince her to join him against Goldfinger. Unbeknownst to Goldfinger, Pussy's pilots drop fake gas onto Fort Knox, and all the soldiers pretend to be unconscious. They pretend a little too long, in our opinion, because Goldfinger uses his laser to enter Fort Knox's vaults and set up the bomb. Shouldn't they have stopped him as soon as he drove in?
Anyway, the soldiers eventually arrive and open fire on Goldfinger and his men. Goldfinger escapes to finger gold another day, but Bond is locked inside the vault with Oddjob. The henchman is virtually invincible, but Bond eventually gets the upper hand and electrocutes Oddjob with a severed cable.
The bomb defuser shows up with literally seven seconds remaining (007—get it?), and the day is saved. To thank Bond for his service, the president invites him to dinner. Hmm…but what about Goldfinger?
Of course Goldfinger's aboard the private jet to the White House. He and Bond struggle. Goldfinger's gun goes off, blowing a hole in one of the plane's windows. The jet depressurizes, and Goldfinger is sucked out the window, like a giant poo emoji being flushed down a narrow drain.
Pussy, in the pilot's seat, attempts to right the plane as it plummets toward the ocean. She fails. The plane explodes.
But Bond still has, like, 97 more movies to do, right? He's fine. He and Pussy bail out at the last minute, parachuting safely to the jungle below. Bond doesn't want to be rescued just yet. He pulls the parachute over him and Pussy like a bedsheet so they can have a few moments of privacy before the rescue party finds them.