Saturday, June 18, 2011

Review: Goldfinger

GoldfingerGoldfinger by Ian Fleming

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have found a third book that runs counter to the conventional wisdom that books are always better than their movie versions. The first two entries on my list are Forrest Gump and Shoeless Joe which was the basis for the movie Field of Dreams. While I enjoyed both of those books, the two movies are classics. The movie version of Forrest Gump won six Oscars among its myriad of other awards, and Field of Dreams is constantly ranked as one of the best sports movies of all time.

Goldfinger follows the same pattern. I truly enjoyed the book, as I have the previous six James Bond novels that I have read so far. However, the movie version is one of my favorite movies. Of course, the Bond books and movies are really completely different animals. Sean Connery in particular portrays Bond with super-human cool. The Bond from the novels, on the other hand, is fallible and occasionally shows a bit of emotion. In three of the first seven novels, including Goldfinger, CIA agent Felix Leiter appears at the last minute to save Bond's hide. In the movies, Leiter is usually just tagging along as a sidekick.

Similar to Shoeless Joe missing James Earl Jones' epic monologue on baseball from Field of Dreams, the book version of Goldfinger misses the great quotes from movie. ("No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.", "I must be dreaming.")

The plot of the novel and film are basically the same, but there are some differences. In the book, the main villain, Auric Goldfinger, threatens Bond with a giant saw. The movie replaces the saw with an even more intimidating laser in one of most memorable scenes ever. Also, the role of Pussy Galore is quite different. In the novel, Miss Galore is one of the crime lords involved in Goldfinger's plan to break into Fort Knox. In the movie, she is a pilot and leads a flying circus. In both versions, Bond is able to persuade Miss Galore to change sides. The ultimate goal of Goldfinger's nefarious plan is also slightly different between the novel and the book.

Appropriately enough, USA Network was showing Goldfinger as I typed this.

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