Auric Goldfinger: A Most Charming Villain
Auric Goldfinger is the the primary antagonist in the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger (1964). He was portrayed by the late German actor Gert Fröbe (voiced by Michael Collins), and adapted from Ian Fleming’s 1959 novel.
Goldfinger’s character has appeared in various video games, including GoldenEye: Rogue Agent (2004) and 007 Legends (2012), and he continues to be one of the most popular Bond villains throughout the entire franchise.
Goldfinger’s intrigue as a character is a result of his multifaceted personality, which combines charm, intelligence, and ruthlessness. As a wealthy businessman with an obsession for gold, Goldfinger’s schemes are both ambitious and meticulously planned.
Throughout the years, Goldfinger has become synonymous with the quintessential Bond villain, setting the standard for Bond villains to follow in the series.
Auric Goldfinger, a wealthy British businessman with global connections, is an officially licensed jeweller and gold dealer. Through his company, Auric Enterprises A.G, he uses his connections to smuggle vast quantities of gold out of the UK.
Goldfinger uses his Rolls Royce Phantom III Sedanca de Ville with an eighteen-carat gold body, weighing roughly two tons. On purported business trips, his men dismantle the vehicle in Switzerland and process the gold into ingots.
Despite his success, Goldfinger’s insatiable greed propels him to plan a crime that he’s been working on for 15 years.
His scheme, dubbed Operation Grand Slam, involves increasing the value of his gold tenfold by destroying the gold reserves at Fort Knox using a Chinese-made atomic bomb. This would render the gold useless and elevate Goldfinger’s gold value, making him the world’s richest man.
To execute this plan, Auric Goldfinger has borrowed goods worth a million dollars from various American Mafia groups and developed a poison gas to be dispersed over the base by his pilot, Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman), potentially killing thousands of soldiers and civilians.
During the preparation for Operation Grand Slam, Goldfinger is accompanied by his mute henchman, Oddjob (Harold Sakata). While continuing to smuggle gold, Auric Goldfinger visits Fontainebleau Miami Beach Hotel in Miami, where he uses his aide-de-camp Jill Masterson to cheat in a card game against a wealthy guest, Simmons.
However, Goldfinger’s deception is exposed by James Bond (Sean Connery), who woos Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton) and forces him to lose $15,000 in the game. Goldfinger learns of Jill Masterson’s deception and has his henchman, Oddjob, knock out Bond and murder Masterson leaving her dead body covered in gold paint.
Bond becomes more determined to expose Goldfinger’s smuggling operations and follows him to Europe. After a golf game and subsequent encounters in Geneva, Bond is captured by Goldfinger, who now knows Bond is a secret agent.
Goldfinger captures Bond and straps him down to an industrial laser which is set to laser him in two. Bond saves himself by bluffing that he knows about Operation Grand Slam, leading Goldfinger to keep him alive to avoid attracting the attention of the secret services.
As the operation proceeds, Bond convinces Pussy Galore to help him foil Goldfinger’s plan. She secretly contacts Washington, replaces the nerve gas with a harmless version.
Goldfinger has Bond bound to the Atomic Bomb at Fort Knox and says his goodbyes, but is horrified to discover a group of U.S. soldiers have arrived at the scene.
Posing as an officer, Goldfinger betrays his accomplices and escapes, only to be defeated by Bond on a private jet, where he accidentally shoots a window and is sucked out of the plane, plummeting to his death.
The U.S. soldiers manage to disarm the bomb and ultimately foil Goldfinger’s plot, even though he has gotten away.
With the plot foiled, the President of America invites Bond to Washington on a private jet. Unbeknownst to Bond, Goldfinger had boarded the plane earlier, leaving the bound pilots in the hangar and enlisting Pussy Galore as the pilot.
Armed with his Colt Official Police, Auric Goldfinger intends to kill both Bond and Pussy as retribution for thwarting his plans. However, during a brief lapse in attention, Goldfinger is ambushed by Bond, and the two fight aboard the aircraft.
Amid the struggle, Goldfinger inadvertently fires a shot at a cabin window, causing it to shatter. The resulting depressurisation forces Goldfinger out of the plane, and he plummets to his death.
Karl Gerhart “Gert” Fröbe, a renowned German actor, was born on February 25, 1913, in the town of Oberplanitz, which is now part of Zwickau. Initially passionate about playing the violin, Fröbe eventually shifted his focus to Kabarett and theatre work.
In September 1944, Fröbe was drafted into the German Army and served until the end of WWII. His past led to a temporary ban on his films in Israel, which was lifted after a Jewish survivor revealed Fröbe had saved him and his mother from the Nazis.
Gert Fröbe gained fame in German films, including Berliner Ballade (1948), and his character’s name, ‘Otto Normalverbraucher,’ became synonymous with ‘Average Joe.’ He played the antagonist in Es geschah am hellichten Tag (1958), which caught the attention of Goldfinger’s producers.
Fröbe’s first uncredited English language film was Decision Before Dawn (1951), followed by his first credited film, They Were So Young (1954). Before he gained global fame after being cast as the main Bond villain Auric Goldfinger in Goldfinger (1964).
He went on to appear in numerous English language films, such as Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), with his final role in Bloodline (1979). Fröbe was married to Karin Fröbe until his death from a heart attack in 1988, and he is buried at the Waldfriedhof cemetery in Icking.
Gert Fröbe’s Auric Goldfinger is regarded as one of the best Bond villains, bringing charm and sophistication to the role.
Portrayed by the talented Gert Fröbe, the character has had a lasting impact on the series, continuing to influence later instalments and adaptations. Fröbe’s career, marked by a diverse range of roles in both German and English-language films, is a testament to his exceptional acting skills.
His performance as Auric Goldfinger will forever be remembered as an integral part of the James Bond legacy, cementing his place in the annals of cinematic history.