Goldfinger, thought of by the critics as the “Gold Standard” of Bond Films opened at the DeMille Theater in NYC, in December of 1964, and soon after all over America. But there was a sneak preview in Boston at their massive Music Hall Theater on Washington Street.
Goldfinger was heralded as the film in the franchise where James Bond “comes into focus”. Its release led to a number of promotional licensed tie-in items, including a toy Aston Martin from Corgi Toys which became the biggest selling toy of 1964. The promotion also included an image of gold-painted Eaton on the cover of Life.
Many of the elements introduced in the film appeared in many of the later James Bond films, such as the extensive use of technology and gadgets by Bond, an extensive pre-credits sequence that stood largely alone from the main storyline, multiple foreign locales and tongue in cheek humor and double entendre humor. Goldfinger was the first Bond film to win an Oscar (for best Sound Editing) and opened to largely favorable critical reception. The film was a financial success, recouping its budget in two weeks and grossing over $120 million worldwide.
In Boston, it was advertised as a sneak preview of a British spy movie. It was to be shown in the afternoon at the Music Hall. The theater which was originally opened in the 19th Century was converted for use as a vaudeville theater in 1900 and operated under a number of different names, including the Music Hall and the Empire Theatre. In 1906, it was renamed the Orpheum Theater. In 1915, the theater was acquired by the Loew’s chain and reopened again in 1916, rebuilt with a completely new interior. At the time of the viewing it was estimated that it held 5000 seats and had many, many balconies.
Well students all over Boston read the ads in the Boston Globe and Herald Examiner and the word spread like wild fire. The theater was jammed. The cost was $5.00, or the value of $50-60 today! When I got there with a sate (that was crazy) we got in the last two seats in the top balcony, only 3-4 rows from the back. We had to climb over everyone. Well it was a spectacular opening, as all of us know, But the real clamor and noise came when James Bond/Sean Connery met the pilot of Goldfinger’s fleet of planes, Miss Galore/Honor Blackman. When she introduced herself as P*ssy Galore, the throng went insane.
Her name on the advertising poster and flyers was “Miss” Galore. It was a remarkable event!
On 1-21-21, we the new Bond film- “No Time to Die.” As a long-time Bond fan, who drove my sister to see the first Bond film in Stamford in 1963, It was great! I was hooked from then on like zillions of others. As for the newest Bond flick, I was quite disappointed. Of course, it was a long wait and the reports were never fabulous about the film. Personally, I found it too long, convoluted, confusing and at times quite ridiculous. All Bond films suspend reality to one degree or another. But, this one seemed to re-invent disbelief. Daniel Craig seemed almost bored with the effort. No Bond music, no quips, no real interaction, just a man who seemed resigned to his fate. What happened to the bold, sardonic, suave, sophisticated world player?
With that in mind I decided to check out all the different opinions on which Bond films were the best to the worst. I was not surprised at the cumulative findings of the top three. But, I was surprised how many reviewers liked, “On His Majesty’s Service” with one-time Bond, George Lazenby. Generally speaking both “Dr. No” and “Thunderball” were rated highly, but there were a few who skewed both films. Those outlier reviews pushed those films out of the top five.
Also, remember some of the polls never rated “Never Say Never Again,” and other polls were published before the release of latest Bond film. “Live and Let Die” also reflected some wildly diverse opinion, from a #1, 5 and 9 among many generally poor reviews. I was also very surprised by the strong showing of “Goldeneye!” Personally, I loved “Casino Royale,” and was mostly disappointed by the other Craig efforts. I liked him, but I found “Spectre” and Quantum of Solace” wanting. “Skyfall” was hard to swallow, but many seemed to like it. Personally, I thought that Timothy Dalton was underrated as Bond, but for sure the best was Sean Connery, with Craig exceptional in “Casino Royale!” By the way, few liked “View to a Kill,” but I thought it was a very interesting premise and entertaining. Almost all the Bond films were entertaining and that is why they all have done so well. It will be a challenge to fill Craig’s shoes! Richard