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Literature / Goldfinger

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

Returning to London following a rather unpleasant mission of destroying a drug business in Mexico, Bond finds himself stuck in Miami for a day due to a cancelled flight. By chance, he meets an old acquaintance named Junius Du Pont, and through him he also meets Auric Goldfinger, the richest man in England. When he eventually returns back home, he learns that Goldfinger is on SMERSH's payroll and is tasked to get him arrested and his 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
  • 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: Branching into Interchangeable Asian Cultures, karate, a Japanese martial art, is described to be "a branch of judo" with Chinese origins, and how Oddjob is "one of the three in the world who have achieved the Black Belt" in the discipline.
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  • 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 them, 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 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 the aphorism "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.
  • 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, which has a razor-edged brim, making it a lethal throwing weapon. However, he has to replace the felt covering after every throw.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Goldfinger, who is referred to be comparable to Cellini and Einstein in his expertise in planning crime.
  • The Dragon: Oddjob, Goldfinger's chauffeur and main enforcer.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: 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 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.
  • "Help! Help! Trapped in Title Factory!": Bond leaves a note on the underside of the toilet on a plane, telling of Goldfinger's plot and saying that delivery of the note to Felix Leiter of the CIA will result in a reward, hoping that the cleaning crew will find it; but doesn't know whether or not it got found & delivered, or thrown out, or found by the bad guys.
  • 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.
  • Idiot Ball: Bond has foiled Goldfinger's plot. He is féted in Washington and flying home, even though the villain - a resourceful, relentless, egomaniac genius - is still at large. At the airport, an official tells Bond he needs a vaccination to fly...Instead of travelling incognito, resisting having a needle stuck into him, or just running for it and escaping the US another way, Bond gets the needle and regains consciousness in Goldfinger's plane.
  • 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 with a glass of whiskey in hand, thinking about the Mexican killer whom he was forced to kill in self-defence, and tries to rationalize about it by telling himself that he was very likely a very bad person. His initial big plan for the evening is to drink himself so silly so that he can stop thinking about it and that his inevitable one night stand has 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 that thinks Operation Grand Slam will fail. Tilly is too busy adoring Pussy Galore to care about it too much, 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: Galore was raped by her uncle at aged 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, though 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, 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 people 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. 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.