Study Guide

Goldfinger Themes

  • Manipulation

    A spy is never going to come up to you and say, "Yo, I'm a spy." They have to be sneaky to get the information they want out of you—for example, the fact that your password is bieber4ever2008. Spies do their manipulation in the service of good (however they define it), but supervillains think in pretty much the same way the way. Most supervillains won't stand up in front of the world be like, "Yo, I'm a bad guy." They manipulate their way into your life in order to destroy it.

    In Goldfinger, both hero and villain resort to manipulation to get what they want, making their conflict a classic game of cat-in-a-tuxedo and mouse-with-an-obsession-for-gold.

    Questions About Manipulation

    1. What tricks does Bond use to get himself close to Goldfinger in order to keep an eye on the villain?
    2. Does Bond manipulate Pussy into joining the good guys, or does she come to that decision herself?
    3. Why does Goldfinger lie to and manipulate the American gangsters? How do they serve him? What does he get out of killing them?

    Chew on This

    Both Bond and Goldfinger slyly manipulate women in order to further their own personal goals.

    Goldfinger's entire plan revolves around manipulation: he wants to manipulate the entire world's economy by destroying U.S. gold reserves. No one is safe from his plan.

  • Greed

    If we'd never seen an episode of The Apprentice, we'd imagine it opened the same way Goldfinger does—with images of half-naked women writhing around while someone sings about gold. The opening credits set our expectations for Goldfinger's villainous motivation.

    Bond films are always about gadgets and girls, but this time we'll add another G to the list—gangrene. Seriously, getting cut by Oddjob's hat is bound to leave a big wound open to infection.

    Oh, and greed. Can't forget greed.

    Questions About Greed

    1. Are there any limits to Goldfinger's greed? Would he retire if he pulled off Operation Grand Slam?
    2. What do you think makes Goldfinger desire more wealth? Why isn't he satisfied with what he has? Why does he want more?
    3. Do you see any real-world equivalents to Goldfinger and his quest for more wealth?
    4. Is Bond himself greedy in any way?

    Chew on This

    Pussy Galore takes up employment with Goldfinger because she wants the wealth that comes after completing Operation Grand Slam. Even though her motivations are different from Goldfinger's—she wants to buy an island to get away from it all—she is still greedy.

    Goldfinger often makes stupid decisions in the name of greed. He keeps picking on the same mark for his gambling scheme with Jill, and he gets greedy during a game of golf with Bond. He ends up losing both times.

  • Lust

    We could basically copy and paste our introduction for the "Greed" theme right here, because isn't lust basically just greed for sex? As Goldfinger is set in the swingin' 1960s, you'll notice that lust is more of a virtue than a sin here, at least when it comes to the activities of James Bond. He's the good guy, but he is definitely a ladies' man.

    The villain, on the other hand, is virtually sexless. Bond, in fact, learns that Goldfinger's two most beautiful female employees don't sleep with their boss, which makes sexual harassment one of the only crimes Goldfinger won't be accused of. For Bond, on the other hand, "lust" is practically in his job description as a perk of employment.

    Questions About Lust

    1. Is there a double standard when it comes to lust in the Bond universe?
    2. Why does it matter to Bond whether or not the women have slept with Goldfinger?
    3. Why isn't Pussy Galore initially interested in Bond? What changes her mind? Is her "transformation" realistic?

    Chew on This

    Bond is a man who has the entire world at his fingertips. It's part of the fantasy. And with that fantasy comes the ability to have any woman he chooses.

    Pussy Galore is an example of Bond's ability to, um, charm women. She's coded as a lesbian, but Bond is able to "change" her with his magic touch.

  • Violence

    Spies have to get their hands dirty. And we don't mean in the kitchen making triple-berry pie for their enemies. Unless that pie is filled with poison.

    Agent 007 has a license to kill, and he is not afraid to stand his ground. Bond kills nine people in Goldfinger, and when added to the 68 other deaths in the film, that puts the kill count at 77, making it one of the top-five most violent Bond films. All this violence makes us think of a classic philosophical riddle—if a secret agent shoots someone in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, is he a secret agent at all?

    Questions About Violence

    1. What is Bond's attitude toward killing? Does he ever regret killing someone?
    2. What are Bond's favored methods to kill people? Are there any ways he kills someone that surprise you? Why?
    3. Which deaths upset Bond, and why do they bother him?

    Chew on This

    When Bond can't overpower villains with pure strength (or firepower), he must outwit them and come up with clever ways to kill them, like when electrocutes Oddjob in the climactic showdown.

    Bond often makes a joke after killing someone, a way to both cope with violence and—more likely—to make the violence seem cartoonish and fun for the audience.

  • Technology and Modernization

    Today, it's hard to justify the need for a spy like Bond. We've got drones with their own licenses to kill—a different prickly ethical issue. And we've got video games that let us pretend to be Bond himself. We'll totally take you down in a four-player GoldenEye deathmatch, by the way—no Oddjob cheat code allowed.

    But in Goldfinger, filmmakers still had that ability to dazzle audiences with futuristic technologies, like remote tracking devices, radar inside a car's dashboard, and lasers. Some of these gadgets have come to be in the real world, but we're still waiting for a car that dispenses oil to slip up our pursuers.

    Yeah, don't you dare challenge us to Mario Kart either.

    Questions About Technology and Modernization

    1. What bits of tech and gadgetry have become reality since Goldfinger? Which are still in the realms of fantasy?
    2. What do Bond's gadgets allow him to do that he would not be able to without them?
    3. Does Bond rely on gadgets at the expense of his own ingenuity?

    Chew on This

    Bond's gadgets add to the fantasy element of his story. He's given wild devices that exist just within the realm of believability, but he still manages to impress audiences with their cool factor.

    Goldfinger's technology arguably outpowers Bond's: his laser can cut through anything, after all. So Bond has to pick up the slack with his sheer wit. It's not necessarily the technology that matters, but how you use it.