From Goldfinger; Performed by Shirley Bassey
Goldfinger is not the best Bond title sequence simply because it established the franchise’s long-lasting template, but because it does so more effectively and with a greater sense of purpose than everything that came after.
The song itself is fantastic, an instantly iconic melody that makes expert use of horns to suggest a very specific tone and style. Shirley Bassey’s vocals are simply stunning, as she belts the music out with incredible strength and power. The lyrics may be a little silly at times – “He loves only gold!” – but they fit perfectly with the nature of the film’s villain, and help establish Auric Goldfinger’s iconic, inimitable nature. When this song starts up, you know you’re in for something great; it gets the blood pumping, and primes the viewer for a suave, exciting, dangerous adventure.
But it’s actually the imagery that make Goldfinger stand out as the best of the Bond openings, as it is the franchise’s single best example of music and visuals working together in perfect harmony to suggest something greater than either on their own ever could. The look of this sequence is sleek, sexy, and extremely foreboding, with images from the film projected over naked, golden painted women, like shadows against Greek statues, all atop a totally black background. Unlike the openings of the Roger Moore or Pierce Brosnan eras, the naked women aren’t simple objects or jokes, but a crucial part of a threatening atmosphere. The visuals may look enticing, but they are also intimidating, for there’s a deadened, soulless look to the bodies that suggests real, palpable danger in the film footage. It implies that things are going to get very heavy in this film; that behind the attractive veneer of gold and nudity, there is something deeper and darker at play.
That, to me, is exactly what the best Bond openings should do: Use eye candy to hint at the actual content of the film, and maybe make the viewer think in the process. There are individual songs, like “You Know My Name,” that I like better than “Goldfinger,” and imagery that, in a vacuum, is even more impressive than this, but no other combination of song and visuals works quite as powerfully as the Goldfinger opening, and for that, I think it is easily the best title sequence in the series.
What is your favorite Bond title sequence? Your least favorite? Do you agree with these picks? Sound off in the comments!Previous