Novel publish year – 1958
Film release year – 1964
007 – Sean Connery

The seventh novel; the third film.  The contrast between each format is very interesting, as both the novel and the film are among the finest of each series.  Moreover, the film presents an instance where the director took some significant liberties with the original storyline, but nevertheless produced an adaptation that, despite some major deviations from Fleming’s original version, managed to capture the tone and basic essence of the novel.

The novel opens with a contemplative 007 in a Miami airport mulling over existential issues of life and death after killing a Mexican bandit who had been hired to kill him in connection with an opium operation Bond had been investigating.  In the film, Bond is wrapping up what seems to be an entirely different sort of mission by setting a time bomb to destroy an oil refinery, after which he goes for a cocktail and takes in a belly dancing performance. 

In the novel, Bond decides to spend an extra night in Miami and get drunk, where he meets Junius Du Pont (of the famous chemical-producing Du Pont family), who tells Bond that he had observed him at the Casino Royale les Eaux in connection with the events that are the subject of Fleming’s first novel, Casino Royale.  Du Pont offers to privately hire Bond to figure out how a certain man – Auric Goldfinger – has managed to beat him at canasta over and over again.  Du Pont is certain that Goldfinger is a cheat, but he cannot prove it.  In the film, after the oil refinery business, Bond runs into his old CIA friend, Felix Leiter, at the Fontainebleau hotel in Miami, who informs Bond about Goldfinger being a suspected cheat at gin (not canasta).

In both, 007 easily figures out how Goldfinger cheats by sneaking into his hotel room during a game and meeting Jill Masterson, Goldfinger’s assistant/companion.  After ruining Goldfinger’s scheme, in the novel Bond leaves town with Jill, with whom he spends an enjoyable train ride from Florida to New York.  In the film, Bond sleeps with Jill shortly after humiliating Goldfinger, but is almost as shortly thereafter knocked out by Goldfinger’s dangerous henchman, Oddjob.  In the film, Bond awakes to discover Jill dead, covered head to toe with gold paint.  The same method is used to dispatch Jill in the novel, although Bond does not learn of her demise until later in the storyline.  

In the novel, Bond returns to London and is assigned night station duty at MI6 – something he has not done since becoming “00.”  Bond remains interested in Goldfinger, and it turns out that the Bank of England is also interested in him in connection with gold leaks from England.  M suspects that Goldfinger is a moneyman for SMERSH, both providing it with gold and by damaging England’s currency base by not fully reporting his gold holdings to the British government.

The chase begins in earnest in the novel when Goldfinger invites Bond to a round of golf at the Royal St. Marks, seemingly impressed with Bond’s ability to undermine him during the card scheme in Miami.  Unlike the novel, however, in the film Goldfinger never actually met or even saw Bond in Miami, so Bond arranges to paired up with Goldfinger for the golf match.  In both, Bond and Goldfinger agree to play according to the “strict rules” of golf.  This of course leads to Goldfinger’s un-doing, as Bond once again catches him cheating, and uses it against him to win the match by default.  In the novel, it is during the golf match that Goldfinger tells Bond that Jill Masterson is no longer in Goldfinger’s “employ.”

In the novel, Goldfinger invites Bond to dinner following golf.  In the film, by contrast, Goldfinger is irate after losing and cautions Bond to not cross his path again.  Goldfinger makes his point by instructing Oddjob to throw his razor-lined bowler hat a nearby statute, decapitating it.  Goldfinger makes a similar while Bond visits for dinner; he directs Oddjob to demonstrate his physical power and karate expertise in front of Bond, clearly as a warning that Goldfinger possesses the ability to eradicate Bond if he so chooses.  Goldfinger also gives a housecat (which Bond had creatively used as cover while snooping around the house) to Oddjob for dinner, explaining that Oddjob developed a taste for cats during a famine in Korea, his homeland. 

In both, Bond uses a tracking device attached to Goldfinger’s gold-leaden Rolls Royce to follow Goldfinger’s movements.  In the novel, Bond learns that Goldfinger is able to smuggle his gold around Europe using the Rolls and that, in addition to providing some financing to SMERSH, the gold is eventually melted down, fashioned into parts used for airplane seating, then transported to India, where it is refabricated and sold, as gold prices in India are the highest in the world. 

As Bond follows and spies on Goldfinger, he runs into Tilly Masterson, who is hell-bent on killing Goldfinger to avenge her sister Jill’s murder.  In the film, Bond spoils Tilly’s chance to shoot Goldfinger from a hilltop overlooking Goldfinger’s car and then re-encounters her in a wooded area outside of Goldfinger’s factory.  In the novel, Bond and Tilly are both captured by Oddjob; in the film, however, Tilly is killed by a blow from Oddjob’s bowler hat as they try to escape from the woods in 007’s Austin Martin DB

In the novel, Bond finds himself tied spread-eagle to a table with a circular saw positioned at the end of the table.  When Goldfinger switches on the saw, Bond fully expects to die and braces for it.  He passes out and dreams he is in heaven, where he becomes concerned about introducing Tilly to Vesper Lynd, his former flame from Casino Royale.  At the last minute, Goldfinger decides to spare both Bond and Tilly because he concludes that they may be of more use to him alive, in connection with his ultimate plan.

In the film, Goldfinger threatens to do away with Bond in similar fashion; only here Bond is threatened with mutilation by laser rather than circular saw.  Bond is spared we he blurts out that he knows about “Operation Grandslam” – a term he overheard while spying on Goldfinger.


In the novel, Goldfinger explains to Bond that he has been in love with gold his entire life and that he intends to rob $15 billion of gold from Fort Knox and flee to Russia aboard a Soviet warship that will coincidently be visiting the United States on the date of the heist.  He hires hires Bond and Tilly to handle the administrative details of Operation Grandslam (under constant watch by Oddjob, of course).  In the film, Goldfinger is more concerned with keeping Bond alive so as to not arise too much interest from MI6 and the CIA.   Moreover, in the film, Goldfinger does not intend to actually steal any of Fort Knox’s gold; rather, his ultimate plan is to use a radioactive device to contaminate America’s gold supply.

Another significant difference between the novel and the film is found in Goldfinger’s relationship with characters from the American criminal underworld.  In the novel, Goldfinger has assembled a crew drawn from different gangs to help him execute his master plan to insert sedatives into Fort Knox’s water supply and then use a nuclear warhead to blow off the door to the gold reserve.  (Goldfinger of course confides to Bond that he actually intends to poison all of the inhabitants of Fort Knox to death.)  One of the mobsters is, naturally, Pussy Galore, who heads a lesbian gang from Harlem called The Cement Mixers.  Goldfinger’s plan is to use his group of co-conspirator’s to pose as a large contingent of Red Cross workers sent into Fort Knox by train to treat the “sick” residents.  In the film, Pussy runs an all-female gang of pilots, who are tasked with flying over Fort Knox disseminating nerve gas to disable all of its inhabitants.

In the novel, just one mafia boss declines to participate and is excused from the group’s meeting.  Minutes later, the group is informed by Goldfinger that he fell down the stairs while leaving the meeting and died.  All of the other gangs indicate that they are on-board in exchange for a share of the $15 billion.   In the film, Goldfinger murders all of the gangsters with nerve gas after explaining his plan to the group.  In direct contrast with the novel, in he film just one gangster declines to participate in the plan; as he exits the meeting Bond slips note into his pocket with instructions to bring to the authorities.  Similarly, in the novel, Bond gets word of the scheme out by writing an SOS note to Leiter (who, in the novel, as a result of the events of Live and Let Die, is now employed by Pinkerton’s; in the film he is still a CIA agent) and hiding it in the bathroom of a small plane the criminals use to take an aerial tour of Fort Knox; it is found by the plane’s cleaning staff and passed along the right channels.

In both the novel and in the film, Goldfinger’s plan falls apart when the military forces guarding Fort Knox pretend to be asleep (or dead) as Goldfinger moves toward Fort Knox, only to awaken and overpower his henchmen.  In the novel, the authorities had been tipped off after the note 007 left in the above-described plane made its way to Leiter.  In the film, it turns out that Pussy Galore got word to Washington, after falling for Bond, and after instructing her gang of pilots to disseminate a harmless agent over Fort Knox.  (In the novel, Pussy does not indicate to 007 that she has switched sides until the very end for the story.)

In the novel, Goldfinger and Oddjob manage to escape from Fort Knox, while in the film, only Goldfinger makes it out, as Oddjob meets his end when he and his razor-equipped bowler hat come into contact with electrified bars in Fort Knox’s vault while attempting to prevent Bond from disabling the dirty bomb meant to contaminate the gold supply, which Bond – with some help – of course manages to do with just seconds remaining on the clock. 

In the novel, Leiter tells Bond that Goldfinger and Oddjob have not yet been apprehended, and Bond heads to the airport to return to London.  There, he is told that he is due for a typhoid shot before embarking.  This is, of course, a trick – Bond is poisoned and passes out.  He awakes mid-air on a plane next to Oddjob.  Pussy is also aboard, dressed as a stewardess, as is Goldfinger himself, dressed as an airline employee.  Goldfinger advises 007 that the plane is flying to Russia, where Bond can expect to be interviewed by SMERSH agents.  Pussy hands Bond a glass of whiskey, with a note stating that she is now “with him.”  To escape, Bond pretends to doze until Oddjob is distracted; he then pulls a knife from his boot and uses it to smash one of the plane’s windows.  Bond next pummels Goldfinger and ultimately strangles him to death.  After taking command of the plane, Bond redirects the flight to land in the ocean near a rescue ship.  Once safely aboard the ship, Pussy comes to Bond’s room and asks if he will visit her in Sing-Sing.  Bond does not address Pussy’s question; instead, he kisses her “ruthlessly” and the novel abruptly concludes. 

A similar finale is found in the film.  After defeating the Fort Knox scheme, Bond boards a flight bound for Washington, where he is to accept the President’s thanks for a job well done.  Of course, Goldfinger is aboard.  He explains that the plane is flying to Cuba.  Bond once again foils Goldfinger’s plans – a fight ensues on board, resulting in Goldfinger – like his loyal henchman Oddjob in the novel – being sucked out of a hole in the fuselage and killed.  Bond and Pussy manage to escape by parachuting out of the plane and, once on land, get to know each other better while awaiting rescue.

Next:  For Your Eyes Only


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