This post has an enormous .gif in it, give it a few seconds to load properly before moving on – ed.
For the midseason finale of the 2014 edition of Hit Me with Your Best Shot, Nathaniel R has picked a film that I’m honestly rather surprised, and just as delighted, to see show up in this series: iconic James Bond adventure Goldfinger, currently celebrating its 50th Anniversary year. I’ve already said everything I want to say about this movie (actually, I probably haven’t, but it’ll be at least another couple of years before I’ve completely recovered from Bondathon ’12), which I of course love, and continue to love, and will love until I am dead, despite some vague misgivings that loving Bond films has an ugly moral angle to it that I’m happier leaving unexplored.
The point being, Goldfinger is wonderful, and let’s hop right over to the shot I picked. When Nathaniel announced this film for the schedule, I had a pretty immediate response, and nothing ever really budged me from it, except for the fact that there’s no such thing as a still image that really captures the moment. Here’s the best I came up with:
Honestly, can you actually pick a shot from a James Bond and meaningfully, honestly call it the “best”, when it involves Sean Connery with that look on his face? I certainly didn’t think so.
The solution was to exploit a more technical definition of “shot” than the series usually thrives on (rather than a single frame, all the footage included between two cuts), nor is it the first time that I’ve done it; anyway, since I’ve recently learned to stop worrying and love animated .gifs, I’m happy to present my pick for the best shot from Goldfinger:
And with that all done, we can move on to the rather more easy question of why this shot, above all, is my favorite. And, in fact one of my favorites in the 23-film entirety of the Bond franchise. It’s not for any subtle or high-theory reason: as befits Bond and his movies, also not typically noted for subtlety.
Basically, we have here the all-time perfect collision of the things that, to my mind, make Bond Bond: the cool and collected and unnervingly competent man of action, and the suave playboy whose lifestyle is a non-stop parade of the most elegant, sophisticated, and glamorous trappings of good taste and money. In other words, off comes the wetsuit, to reveal a perfectly pressed tuxedo – a white tuxedo, no less, because James Bond won’t have any of your bullshit “blend into the crowd” black tuxes when he’s wrapping up a mission to blow up a drug-processing facility. And of course, he has to take the time to tuck the red carnation into his lapel – also looking perfectly formed, despite also having presumably been hiding in that wetsuit.
It’s lightly comic wish fulfillment that sums up in one moment how much stronger and cooler and more attractive James Bond is than you or I can even daydream about being, and coming at the very start of the third movie in the franchise, it’s more than fair to call this one of the character’s defining moments. It is, anyway, one of the moments that always gets me to sigh happily and think “you suave GQ sonofabitch”, and what better response could any of us have, at any moment, to Britain’s finest superspy?