Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Goldfinger

Go To

The seventh James Bond novel by Ian Fleming, first published in 1959.

Returning to London following the rather unpleasant mission of destroying a drug-smuggling operation in Mexico, Bond finds himself stranded in Miami for a day thanks to a cancelled flight. Purely by chance, he runs into an old acquaintance named Junius Du Pont, and through him is introduced to one Auric Goldfinger, the richest man in England. After making it back home, Bond learns that Goldfinger is on SMERSH's payroll and is tasked with getting him arrested and his large hoard of gold confiscated.

The novel became the basis for the third James Bond film. One of the continuation novels, Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz, takes place immediately after this one.

This novel has the examples of:

  • Amazon Brigade: Pussy Galore's entire criminal organization was enlisted from female acrobats whom Galore then transitioned into cat-burglars.
  • Antagonist Title: The titular Auric Goldfinger.
  • Artistic Licence Biology: Jill Masterson suffocates to death after being completely covered in gold paint, leaving her skin unable to breathe. As anyone who has been scuba diving in a wetsuit knows, that's not how human respiration works. While having one's skin completely painted would be really uncomfortable and could produce ill-effects such as poisoning from the paint itself or overheating from being unable to sweat, it couldn't, by itself, asphyxiate someone, as humans don't obtain oxygen through their skin. "Letting your skin breathe" is just a figure of speech.
  • Artistic License Martial Arts: Useful NotesKarate is described to be "a branch of Judo" and Oddjob is described "one of the three in the world who have achieved the Black Belt" in the discipline.
  • Author Appeal: Like the main villain, Fleming had a fascination with gold. He collected Spanish doubloons and commissioned a gold-plated typewriter from the Royal Typewriter Company, although he never actually used it; he wrote with a gold-tipped ballpoint pen and included the theft or obtaining of gold in several of his stories.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Goldfinger has Bond and Tilly captive in his home. He has realised Bond is extremely dangerous to his mission and has Oddjob torture him to unconsciousness. Instead of having Oddjob kill him immediately, Goldfinger employs Bond as a secretary and confidant. Bond ruins Operation Grand Slam.
  • Book Safe: Bond hides his Walther PPK inside a hollowed-out copy of The Bible Designed to Be Read as Literature during his Mexico assignment.
  • Bury Your Gays: Tilly Masterton is revealed to be lesbian, and becomes sexually obsessed with Pussy Galore. She later dies during Operation Grand Slam because of her devotion to her. Pussy herself survives the book because she isn't really gay, just mistreated .
  • Busman's Holiday: Bond's little stopover in Miami turns into this once Du Pont hires him to spy on Goldfinger and learn how he cheats at cards.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: When Bond and Tilly are captured, Goldfinger subjects Bond to Oddjob's handling to get answers out of him.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Junius Du Pont, whom Bond helps in Miami, is in fact the guy who sat next to Bond during the big game in Casino Royale.
    • When Bond is being lectured about gold business and Goldfinger's background, he notes to himself how one can become infatuated with it just like diamonds, the smuggling of which he had investigated a while ago. (And among the mobsters Goldfinger enlists to help him with Operation Grand Slam is a representative of the same Vegas outfit which had carried out said smuggling.)
    • When Bond goes to Royal St Marks golf course to play against Goldfinger, he thinks to himself about how he has never played there, even during "that accursed Moonraker business".
    • After Bond concludes that he is in the afterlife, he ponders what Vesper will think of the other women he's become involved with since their parting.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The man Bond is assigned to follow on his new case is the same man Goldfinger with whom he'd just tangled in Miami. Bond himself lampshades this by bursting out laughing when M mentions Goldfinger's name. It's even the basis of the three-part structure of the novel, based on an aphorism that's quoted by Goldfinger himself: "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action." Goldfinger encounters Bond, naturally, three times.
  • Cool Car:
    • Bond's new Aston Martin DBIII, and Goldfinger's Rolls Royce Silver Ghost. This is actually the only novel in which Bond drives an Aston Martin in the others he prefers Bentleys. The film series' deal with Aston Martin was what cemented Bond as an Aston driver in popular culture.
    • Felix Leiter's Studillac, introduced in Diamonds Are Forever, briefly pops up toward the end.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Poor Jill Masterton slowly suffocates to death in a hospital after being completely painted over by Oddjob, and nothing can be done to save her.
  • Dastardly Dapper Derby: Worn by Oddjob, with a razor-edged brim that makes it a lethal throwing weapon. However, he has to replace the felt covering after every throw.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Goldfinger, who is referred to as comparable to Cellini and Einstein in his expertise at planning crime.
  • Diagnosis: Knowing Too Much: Bond wakes up in an airport medical ward in New York, were he and Tilly have been shanghaied by Goldfinger and company. When he tries to inform the attending physician that they've been drugged and brought there against there will, Goldfinger placidly tells the doctor that Bond is suffering from "nervous prostration combined with persecution mania" and that he's escorting him to special treatment at the Harkness Pavillion.note 
  • The Dragon: Oddjob, Goldfinger's chauffeur and main enforcer.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: While driving through Kent, Bond gets stuck behind an irritatingly slow driver who later turns out to have been Oddjob.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Goldfinger hires mostly Germans and Koreans, and his associates for Operation Grand Slam are American gangsters including at least one all-lesbian gang.
  • Evil Redhead: Goldfinger has red hair and blue eyes, which leads to Bond to guess (correctly) that he's of Baltic extraction.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Goldfinger acts as the "treasurer" for SMERSH, and Operation Grand Slam is intended at least in part as a means of financing their activities in the West.
  • "Help! Help! Trapped in Title Factory!": Bond types up a detailed description of Goldfinger's plot and leaves it on the underside of a toilet seat in a plane (along with a note stating that whoever finds it and delivers it unopened to Felix Leiter care of the Pinkerton Detective Agency will be guaranteed a $5,000 reward), with the hopes that one of the cleaning crew will find it and deliver it. This is indeed what happens.
  • Henchmen Race: Auric Goldfinger considers Koreans to be his henchman race. Bond agrees, because he considers them to be lower than apes.
  • Hollywood Density: Moving the thousands of tons of gold contained in Fort Knox would take a lot more time than Operation Grand Slam allows (Goldfinger had accounted for how to ship the gold out of town, but not how to get the gold out of the vault and into the transports). This is actually pointed out in the film version.
  • I Am a Humanitarian: Goldfinger implies that Oddjob also likes to eat people along with cats.
  • Informed Attribute: During the golf game, Goldfinger is said to be caddied by an "obsequious, talkative man called Foulks whom Bond had never liked"; however, he has no listed dialogue. (In the movie, his role is played by Oddjob.)
  • It Never Gets Any Easier: The book opens with Bond at the Miami airport with a glass of whiskey in hand, thinking about the Mexican killer whom he was forced to kill in self-defence, and attempting to rationalize about it by telling himself the dead man was very likely a very bad person. After his flight to New York gets cancelled, his initial big plan for the evening is to get himself drunk enough that he'll be able to stop thinking about it and his inevitable one-night stand will have to carry him into bed.
  • Kick the Dog: Goldfinger disposes of the Convenient Decoy Cat Bond used to get out of trouble by giving it to Oddjob for dinner.
  • Lip Losses: One of the title character's associates is Billy "The Grinner" Ring, a Chicago mobster with a "permanent smile" resulting from someone having cut off his lower lip.
  • Loves Only Gold: Goldfinger is obsessed with gold, going so far as to have yellow-bound erotic photographs and have his lovers painted head to toe in gold so that he can make love to gold. He plots Operation Grand Slam, a scheme to rob the US Bullion Depository at Fort Knox.
  • Mister Big: Goldfinger
  • Moe Greene Special: As Goldfinger explains his plan to have Bond work for him, he pulls out a small pistol and threatens to kill Bond with it if he tries to escape or attack. Goldfinger says that he's had to use it only rarely, but when he does, he aims for the right eye and never misses.
  • The Name Is Bond, James Bond: Bond introduces himself this way to Jill Masterton after surprising her in Goldfinger's suite.
  • The Napoleon: When Bond takes note on Goldfinger's short stature, he wonders if his money hoarding is a case of Napoleon Complex, and continues the train of thought by noting that "smallest men cause the worst problems".
  • Neck Snap: Tilly Masterton has to unwittingly demonstrate the lethality of Oddjob's hat.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Bond delivers one to Goldfinger and ends it by strangling him to death.
  • Only Sane Man: Bond is the only person in Goldfinger's team who thinks Operation Grand Slam will fail. Tilly is too busy adoring Pussy Galore to care that much either way, and the other gangsters (except for Helmut Springer) sign on after Goldfinger promises them $1 billion each from the heist.
  • Operation: [Blank]: "Operation Grand Slam" is Goldfinger's code name for the plan to knock over Fort Knox.
  • Rape as Backstory: Pussy Galore was raped by her uncle at age 12. This led to her dislike of men and preference for women. Until Bond shows up, of course.
  • Red Right Hand:
    • Goldfinger is very short in height (barely five feet), has fiery red hair, very pale skin which he tries to hide with a tan, and has features that are described in narration like "he had been put together with bits of other people's bodies."
    • Oddjob's rigorous training has left the skin on his hands and feet extremely hardened (and former is described to be without nails), he has a cleft palate that makes his speech hard to understand to everyone except his master and lastly, all his teeth are blackened.
    • Billy Ring, one of the criminal leaders who are part of Goldfinger's Evil Plan, is missing his lower lip, and his right eye twitches in rhythm with his heartbeat.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: It is noted that Goldfinger has gotten out many a jam by throwing money at it.
  • Screw Yourself: Bond tells Goldfinger to do this to himself (albeit through Narrative Profanity Filter) when he refuses his second offer to let him and Tilly go.
  • Shaped Like Itself: Bond is briefed on the intricacies of the global gold market by one Colonel Smithers, leading to this line:
    "Colonel Smithers looked exactly like someone who would be called Colonel Smithers."
  • Shoot Out the Lock: The ultimate version of this trope. Goldfinger plans to blow open the vault with a stolen tactical nuclear weapon!
  • Shown Their Work: As part of his research, Ian Fleming sent a questionnaire to an expert at the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths  one of the livery companies of the City of London who assay precious metals for purity with a list of queries about gold, its properties and the background of the industry, including smuggling.
  • Spanner in the Works: Tilly Masterton interrupts Bond's mission to recon Goldfinger by trying to assassinate him, which leads to both of them getting caught.
  • Take That!: Fleming named Goldfinger after the architect Ernő Goldfinger, whom he hated. He had been among the objectors to the pre-war demolition of the cottages in Hampstead that were removed to make way for Goldfinger's house at 2 Willow Road. When he threatened to sue, Fleming considered renaming him Goldprick.
  • Taking Over the Town: Goldfinger's plan to loot Fort Knox involves killing everyone in the town next to it by poisoning its water supply.
  • Technicolour Eyes: Pussy Galore apparently has the only violet eyes Bond has ever seen. (No doubt Fleming based this on the popular perception that Elizabeth Taylor's eyes were violet in reality they were just a deep blue that appeared a beautiful violet on old film stock.)
  • Thrown from the Zeppelin: One of the mobsters attending the briefing for Operation Grand Slam decides to opt out. He and his bodyguard then have an "accident" on the stairs on their way to their car.
  • Trademark Favourite Food: Common cats for Oddjob, who acquired the taste for them during a time of famine in his home country Korea.
  • Tuckerization:
    • Pussy Galore came from Mrs "Pussy" Deakin, formerly Livia Stela, an SOE agent and friend of Fleming's wife.
    • Jill and Tilly Masterton were named after Sir John Cecil Masterman, an MI5 agent and Oxford academic who ran the double-cross system during World War II.
    • Alfred Blacking was named after Alfred Whiting, the golf professional at Royal St George's Golf Club, Sandwich.
    • Fleming named the heroin smuggler at the start of the book Blackwell, after his golf partner John Blackwell.
  • Villainous Cheekbones: Bond takes note on the Mexican killer's cheekbones before he attacks him.
  • Water Source Tampering: Part of Operation Grand Slam involves killing everyone in the Fort Knox area by poisoning the local town's water supply.
  • Wealth's in a Name: Goldfinger has, unsurprisingly, a substantial hoard of gold.
  • Wham Line: After a lengthy speech about his plan for the greatest criminal undertaking ever, Goldfinger reveals what exactly he has in mind:
    Goldfinger: We are going, Mr. Bond, to take Fort Knox.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: The very beginning of the book dwells on this — see It Never Gets Any Easier above. Later, however, the villain makes it explicit that he doesn't see his own henchmen as anything but transient "extras" in a production.
  • You Can't Make an Omelette...: The mobster Billy Ring says this to Bond, when they see that the entire population around Fort Knox have been killed dead in their tracks by the poison Goldfinger introduced into the water supply. Or so they think.