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The Ultimate James Bond Poll Results


BOND AT 50 - Poll Reaction
LUKE WILLIAMS chats with a selection of Bond alumni and learns their
reactions to the result of the 007 MAGAZINE Greatest Ever Bond Film Poll!

(Academy Award winner Best Sound Effects, Goldfinger)
Norman Wanstall (Academy Award winner Best Sound Effects, Goldfinger)

You'll be interested to know that 007 MAGAZINE readers have voted Goldfinger into second place in our ‘Greatest Bond Film of All Time Poll’. What is your view of the film? Why do you think it is so popular with fans?
In spite of my satisfaction at having contributed to such a popular movie, I’ve never personally understood how the storyline of Goldfinger has avoided criticism. I find it confusing that Bond forms a business relationship with Goldfinger on the golf course by revealing his possession of a gold ingot, only to deliberately make an enemy of the man by switching the golf balls. As far as Bond’s intentions are concerned, what exactly was the purpose of the golf-course scene apart from demonstrating the ruthlessness of Goldfinger via Oddjob's flying hat? Furthermore, when Bond catches Jill Masterson signalling details of his opponent’s cards to Goldfinger, you expect her to be terrified when this total stranger starts putting her powerful boss in his place. Instead she finds the whole episode amusing and, in no time at all, is making love to the man! Either bad scripting or bad directing?

Later, Bond is in the process of being executed on the laser machine and Goldfinger is indifferent to his pleas. Then, just because Bond is able to state the name of Goldfinger’s on-going operation (Grand-Slam) the laser is switched off. There is no logical reason for this. Bond is never questioned as to how he obtained the information and, as far as I can remember, the name is never mentioned again (except maybe when Goldfinger is explaining his plan to the gangsters.). At no time is there any indication that Goldfinger’s plans have been affected by MI6 knowing of his operation. Goldfinger assembles a mob of leading gangsters in an attempt to integrate them into his plans, only to execute them all before they play any part in his scheme whatsoever. It’s obvious they haven’t all contributed financially because we witness one mobster deciding to opt out. Apart from explaining the details of Goldfinger’s plans to the audience what is the purpose of this scene?

Bond’s escape from the prison cell is also hopelessly contrived and very un-cool. From then on he is treated more as a guest than a prisoner as he strides around in his smart suit and for some convenient reason he is never restrained! In the cell scene, where he is guarded by about six guards, one wonders why they don’t just tie him up instead of letting him sit around looking totally relaxed! As for walking along in the sunshine with Pussy linking arms – all elements of tension are completely eliminated and the frivolous judo encounter has no place in a Connery Bond film. Any discerning film buff would ask why in heaven’s name Goldfinger would want to bother with keeping Bond alive when his intention is to kill him anyway! Obviously, the plot demands that Pussy and Bond develop a relationship to justify her becoming a turncoat, but the script should have been re-written to accommodate that.

Finally, there is a small directorial point which one could easily brush aside but I still feel should be mentioned. The scene where the platoons of soldiers are supposedly wiped out by lethal gas makes me cringe every time I see it. Whoever shot it should have ensured that the men staggered and slowly dropped to the ground rather than them all dropping en bloc the way they do. I expect it was shot by a second unit because I can’t imagine Guy shooting it like that.

I wish I could pin-point the reason why this movie has proved so popular but, apart from the fact that it has a glossy look about it, I really can’t make it out! I guess one could focus on the bizarre way Shirley is executed, the character of Goldfinger, the sunny locations, the ingenuity of Operation Grand-Slam, the stunning design of Goldfinger’s operations room and Fort Knox, plus, of course, the music!

What's your favourite memory connected with working on Goldfinger?
Without doubt my favourite memory connected with my work on Goldfinger was the fact that I had a more relaxing time than on Dr. No and From Russia with Love! The previous two films hadn’t been as creatively challenging but they were far busier and more action-packed and, in the case of Dr. No, pressured by a tight budget.

On Goldfinger, I was free to use recording theatres regardless of cost, and concentrate on creating the special sounds such as Oddjob’s flying hat, the crushing of the golf ball, the ripping of Tilly Masterson’s tyre, the laser machine, Goldfinger’s electronic demonstration room and the car crushing machine. I could even say that my favourite memory of all was creating the sound of the car-crushing machine because, of all the sounds I created on six Bond films, the car crusher will always be my favourite. When the scene came back from the US the sound shot at the time was very poor so I was virtually required to start from scratch. The most difficult sound to find was the heaving (back and forth) of the crusher’s jaws. As it turned out, some workmen came to do repairs on the studio car park and a compressor they used produced the perfect sound for the jaws. I rushed to tell my sound recordist but he was too busy on the set and the only machine he had to spare was a toy recorder he’d bought for his son. In desperation I used the toy to ‘record’ the compressor and it was used in the final mix. The guys mixing the tracks made no comment and it’s only in recent times that I’ve told people my secret!

Goldfinger (1964) Quad poster [style A] and Laser Beam sequence

What was the biggest challenge you faced in designing and devising the sound effects for the film?

Without doubt the biggest challenge for me on Goldfinger was producing a suitable sound for the laser beam. On all the early Bonds I had to face the fact that the gadgets and special effects were moving into a futuristic genre which was beyond the sound technology existing at the time. For instance, on Dr. No it was impossible to create a controllable sound for the nuclear reactor in Dr. No’s laboratory and, only through the genius of an electronics technician at Pinewood, was a machine invented to make the sound possible. The laser beam in Goldfinger created an equally big challenge and it was only by chance that I heard of a company called The BBC Radiophonic Workshop, set up to experiment with electronic music. I showed the scene to a member of their staff and described the sound that I envisaged but I never thought for a moment that they would have the technology. When they returned a week later with their creation it was exactly the sound I’d described. My relief had no limits. It was a moment I shall never forget.

Norman Wanstall and wife Jan at the 1965 Oscar ceremony

You won a richly deserved Academy Award for your work on Goldfinger, placing you in a very exclusive 'Bond Oscar winners' club alongside John Stears, who won for his special effects work on Thunderball. What are your memories of winning the Oscar?
When my wife and I arrived in LA we never thought for a moment that I’d return with an award, but when we discovered there were only two nominees in my category we realised that I might indeed have to mount the stage! [The other nominee was Robert Bratton for The Lively Set]. From the very start we were treated with tremendous respect and on the evening of the event we were seated in a prime position as all nominees are placed near the front. To be seated in an auditorium on such a night was an unforgettable experience with every famous Hollywood face visible wherever one looked. Bob Hope was the master of ceremonies and got the proceedings off to a humorous start and it wasn’t long before the gorgeous Angie Dickinson appeared on stage to announce the Sound Effects nominees. When my name was called out the orchestra immediately opened up with the Goldfinger theme and I felt dizzy with pride as I mounted the stage and received the statuette from Angie. ('Could this really be happening?' I thought to myself?) When I looked out at the audience I found the glare of the lighting was so bright that one couldn’t easily make out individual faces, so any feeling of nerves remarkably receded. My short speech was received with rapturous applause and I walked off arm-in-arm with Angie to meet the press. When I finally returned to my seat my wife was dreamy-eyed as, apart from the fact that her husband had just won an Oscar, she had just seen the one-and-only Judy Garland singing live! The whole event was totally surreal but obviously an event that will stay in my memory forever. The ceremony was followed immediately afterwards by a lavish ball where one could eat, drink and dance with the stars. Charlton Heston came across for a chat and kindly signed my programme. My wife and I had to smile at the fact that if one nudged someone on the dance floor the chances were it would at least turn out to be Gregory Peck!

We've gathered already that you don't think Goldfinger is the greatest Bond film! What do you rate as the best Bond film then?
Until recently I would have said From Russia With Love was the greatest Bond film and I can well understand why it was Cubby’s favourite. It had a straight, believable story that didn’t drift into fantasy-land like so many other Bond movies. As scriptwriter, Richard Maibaum so rightly said: “We hadn’t gone so far yet into the fantastical – it was entirely believable. Real people in real situations.” I also thought the casting was brilliant; Daniela Bianchi made such a refreshing heroine, Pedro Armendariz was perfect as Bond’s ally and Robert Shaw was totally original and sinister as the villain. I agree with Terence Young when he said he thought the film had far and away the best cast of any Bond film. Even Matt Monro was perfect casting for the wonderful title song!

I think it’s significant that so many scenes in From Russia With Love are remembered by everyone, which cannot be said about many in the series that followed: for example, the ‘murder’ of Bond by Grant in the pre-title sequence; the massage scene involving Grant and busty Jan Williams; the gypsy camp belly-dancer and girl fight; Bond’s assassination of Krilencu on the billboard and the best fight scene of any in the series between Bond and Grant in the train. Also, has there ever been another scene like the one where Rosa Klebb whacks Grant in the guts, followed by the words: “He seems fit enough!”

Without doubt, From Russia with Love is my favourite Bond movie but I cannot deny that Casino Royale has taken the series into a new era. Daniel Craig will never replace Sean but, with the films taking on a new image, I believe he was perfect casting. I thought the film was masterfully directed by Martin Campbell and no other Bond film can match its production values. If I were to see Russia and Casino tomorrow back to back for the first time it’s difficult to predict which I would prefer, but my instinct tells me it would be Casino Royale.

Norman, thank you for your time - as well as your incredible contribution to the Bond series!




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