Dateline: Sunday 19th April 2008
Location: Pinewood Studios, Bucks
1000: Storm clouds loom ominously over Pinewood Studios as Total Film arrives at the facility. Fortunately we’ve come equipped with a Q-branch precipitation repellant (that’s umbrella to you), which soon comes in handy as we trudge along Peter Rogers Way towards SPECTRE headquarters. Okay, so it’s really just a Club House used for conventions, weddings and such. Any self-respecting Bond fan, though, will instantly recognise it as the mansion from the From Russia With Love teaser, making this as much a pilgrimage as an assignment for your humble reporter.
1020: Total Film is directed towards the Covered Way (as seen in the Goldfinger car chase around the villain’s smelting works) for a sneak peak at the Aston Martin DB5 that’s been shipped over from Holland for the day. We are greeted by Merlyn and Olav from the Dutch James Bond Club, who explain the model is a promotional vehicle used to sell the film in 1964. With rotating number plates, a retractable bullet shield and a mock-up of the bleeping homer device, it’s one of only four Bond DB5s still doing the rounds and is currently valued at a cool $2.5m. No wonder its watchful minder almost has a seizure when Total Film asks if we can take it for a test drive.
1100: Back at the Club House, Bond nuts have assembled in their droves to have their memorabilia autographed by the day’s special guests – helmer Guy Hamilton, Golden Girl Shirley Eaton, Tania Mallett (aka Tilly Masterson, the bird 007 doesn’t shag) and a slightly irascible Burt Kwouk. Total Film’s special Bond edition sits invitingly on the table, setting up a photo opportunity that is too good to miss. Between snaps, we ask Hamilton why the third Bond is still so well thought of 44 years on. “I don’t ask myself those sort of questions!” he smiles. “I guess Goldfinger just had all the right elements: suspense, action, pretty girls. It’s a wonderful pudding.” He also has some wise words for current Bond Daniel Craig. “He mustn’t imitate Sean or Roger,” says the veteran director, looking pretty chipper for his 85 years. “He’s got to develop his own personality and his own style. You know, I wouldn’t even let him order a Vodka Martini. I’d have him drink Coca Cola...”
1230: Over a buffet lunch Total Film chats with longtime production designer Peter Lamont, who got his first gig on the James Bond franchise working as a draughtsman on Goldfinger; we also rub shoulders with old-school sound man Norman Wanstall, who has brought along the Oscar he won for the film’s sound effects. It’s all getting a little too crowded, though, so we sneak past the eagle-eyed security guards and take a stroll around the picturesque landscaped gardens. There, on the other side of a brook, we come across a simple stone memorial to the late Desmond Llewelyn, beside a tree that’s been planted in his honour. Total Film’s eyes are wet; it must be raining again.
1320: Dave Worrall, publisher of the fine Cinema Retro magazine and DB5 manual The Most Famous Car In The World, gathers the punters for a “Goldfinger Walk” around Pinewood. Ten minutes in, however, it is promptly abandoned as the heavens open and we all take refuge under the Covered Way. The Aston’s still there, only now it’s accompanied by professional Bond-alike Donald Standen, complete with Walther PPK. Does he do the accent as well, Total Film inquires? “Shum-timesh,” he replies.
1400: On Goldfinger Avenue, Worrall points out where Bond drove the Aston Martin into a wall and where the bad guys’ flaming motor car crashed into a building; he also points out the giant 007 Stage, just in case anyone has missed it. (A ‘Bond 22’ sign is the only sign of Quantum Of Solace, whose backlot sets are strictly off limits.) From there it’s over to Theatre Seven where the organisers have a surprise waiting – Honor Blackman, Pussy Galore herself, here to introduce a screening of the movie we’ve all come to celebrate. “Everyone thinks I went to exotic locations on Goldfinger,” says the honey-toned actress. “But the furthest I got was RAF Northolt, just up the road.”
1545: Total Film has seen Goldfinger countless times, but it’s never looked better than on the new digital print we’ve just had the pleasure of watching. Guy Hamilton, however, still wishes he’d shot the opening scene again, if only to dry out the soggy gull perched on Sean Connery’s head. “It was all fine when we started but Sean kept dipping his head under the filthy water,” he sighs during the post-screening Q&A. “I should have done it again but we only had the one seagull. That to me is a cock-up.” (According to the director Connery had his own reservations about the scene where Oddjob crushes a golf ball in his hand, dismissing the notion as “bloody stupid”. “‘I bet that won’t make it into the picture,’ he said.”) It’s a veritable Goldfinger deluge now, with Hamilton joined on stage not only by Eaton, Mallett and Kwouk but also title number lyricist Leslie Bricusse and actress Margaret Nolan, aka eye candy Dink. (“I’ve received fan mail ever since,” says Nolan, who also played the Golden Girl in the film’s credits sequence.) Time’s running short, though, giving Shirley only a few minutes to relive being daubed head to toe in gold paint. “Do you know how many times I’ve told this story?” she says wearily. “But I’ll make it fresh, just for you...”
1700: Having been inundated with requests for copies of Total Film’s Year of Bond edition by the 007 faithful, we’re only too happy to forego the complimentary tea and scones and make our way back to the Big Smoke. As we do, however, we can’t help noticing another famous location. Yes, it’s Brunel Bus Station in downtown Slough, as immortalised in the opening credits of The Office…