Painting Women Gold Can be Problematic...

edited November 2013 in Bond Movies Posts: 408
One of my favorite bloggers is the animation/comic writer Mark Evanier, who maintains the blog,"News From Me". A couple of his recent posts are on the topic of Goldfinger and the famous gold-painted Shirley Eaton.
Here is his post from last Monday (
Evanier wrote:
I never quite figured out why the villain had that [painting Jill gold] done insofar as the storyline was concerned. I mean, her character, Jill Masterson, helped James Bond screw up Mr. Goldfinger's poker game…so Goldfinger sends Odd Job to perform an ugly deed. James and Jill are rolling around in bed in what appears to be his room. Odd Job somehow gets inside, knocks Bond out and then when our hero wakes up, there's Jill — dead and covered head-to-toe in gold paint.

Bond later says she died from "skin suffocation," from being painted. Isn't that like the hardest way imaginable to kill someone? I mean, it's not like she would hold still while Odd Job got out his tray and roller and gave her a couple of coats of semi-gloss. He did a neat job, too. There's no sign of any spills or drips of gold anywhere else in the room. And as you can see not in the movie but in some of the publicity stills, he was nice enough to leave her underwear on and paint it, too — and presumably under it. He did all this before Bond regained consciousness.

I'm going to guess Bond was wrong; that she didn't die from being painted. I'm thinking Odd Job did it the easy way: He killed her, then painted her. That sure would have saved a lot of time and helped get him outta there before Bond woke up. And he could really have left before then if he hadn't bothered to paint her at all.

Why do that? All I can think of is that it was Goldfinger's little way of signing his work, making sure Bond knew who'd done it. But Bond would have figured that out. Earlier that day, she turned on her boss, one of the most powerful, ruthless men in the world. Later on, she's murdered. If 007 couldn't put that one together, Mr. Goldfinger had nothing to fear from him.

But of course, Goldfinger was afraid that Bond would interfere with his plans to make zillions…so while the guy's unconscious, why not just kill him? Goldfinger had several opportunities to kill 007 in that film and didn't. For a guy who wasn't shy about killing anyone who stood between himself and what he wanted, ol' Auric sure went out of his way to not kill the one guy who seemed likely to foil his plans.

I love that movie but it's filled with things like that that bother me. They did such elaborate special effects and stuntwork in the assault on Fort Knox…why not take the five minutes in editing to have that countdown clock run in real time? It's counting down the seconds until the kaboom! and — I actually timed this — we see it at 215 and after one full minute of screen time, it's at 146. Then we have another 40 seconds of screen time and it's at 127.

Then there are a lot of cutaways to the ticking clock that don't coincide much with the action happening between them…but here's the bottom line. From the time it says 127 on the clock to the moment where it's stopped at
007, there's two minutes and 47 seconds. The last twenty seconds alone last about a minute. For me, it just lessens the reality in a movie that was built on firm logic, believable feats, and a completely possible premise.

Now, if you'll excuse me, there's a cockroach in the kitchen that I have to go kill. I'm thinking that instead of getting out the spray or stepping on it, I'll paint it gold. That will be so much easier.

I emailed Evanier and said some of his questions on Goldfinger could be traced to the decisions made by the screenwriters in adapting Ian Fleming's novel. In the book, Jill's death occurs "offscreen," and Bond only learns of it after confronting Jill's sister Tilly, who gives the details, many of which differ from the film version. Her death is (slightly) more plausible in the book but less memorable. Here's the relevant passage from Fleming's Goldfinger (chapter 14):
Fleming wrote:
She whispered, almost to herself, "He killed my sister. You knew her — Jill Masterton."
Bond said fiercely, "What happened?"
"He has a woman once a month. Jill told me this when she first took the job. He hypnotizes them. Then he — he paints them gold."
"Christ! Why?"
"I don't know. Jill told me he's mad about gold. I suppose he sort of thinks he's — that he's possessing gold. You know — marrying it. He gets some Korean servant to paint them. The man has to leave their backbones unpainted. Jill couldn't explain that. I found out it's so they wouldn't die. If their bodies were completely covered with gold paint, the pores of the skin wouldn't be able to breathe. Then they'd die. Afterwards, they're washed down by the Korean with resin or something. Goldfinger gives them a thousand dollars and sends them away."
Bond saw the dreadful Oddjob with his pot of gold paint, Goldfinger's eyes gloating over the glistening statue, the fierce possession. "What happened to Jill?"
"She cabled me to come. She was in an emergency ward in a hospital in Miami. Goldfinger had thrown her out. She was dying. The doctors didn't know what was the matter. She told me what happened to her — what he had done to her. She died the same night." The girl's voice was dry, matter of fact. "When I got back to England I went to Train, the skin specialist. He told me this business about the pores of the skin. It had happened to some cabaret girl who had to pose as a silver statue. He showed me the details of the case and the autopsy. Then I knew what had happened to Jill. Goldfinger had had her painted her all over. He had murdered her. It must have been out of revenge for — for going with you." There was a pause. The girl said dully, "She told me about you. She — she liked you. She told me if I ever met you, I was to give you this ring."
Bond closed his eyes tight, fighting with a wave of mental nausea. More death! More blood on his hands.

Today Evanier mentioned my email and quoted the above passage in his blog ( He commented:
Evanier wrote:
Okay, so let me see if I have this right: Goldfinger gets women to his place, hypnotizes them and when they're in a trance, Oddjob paints them gold…and I guess it's implied Mr. Goldfinger rapes them at some point. They wake up and Oddjob takes the paint off them and they get a thousand bucks and he kicks them out. They don't die because Oddjob doesn't paint their spines. But as punishment for being with Bond, Jill Masterson got her spine painted and then…

Well, I'm not sure. She wound up in an emergency ward. Was she still painted gold? I guess not because the doctors didn't know what the matter was. So the idea here is that Oddjob had taken the paint off but she was still dying from having had it on, is that it? But she was also coherent enough to send a cable to her sister to travel to see her…and she was alive when the sister got there, which was the same night because she died the same night she was painted. And she told the sister what Goldfinger had done to her but I guess she didn't tell the doctors who were trying to save her life. And then she died and…oh, this whole idea of killing women by painting them gold is getting to sound really impractical. It might be easier to just deep-fry a turkey…

It probably would, but I think the image of a dead woman completely covered in gold is alluring enough to defeat any question of plausibility. What do you think?


  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 It was this or the priesthood.
    Posts: 26,707
    This was all quite interesting indeed, and I've always wondered how the feat of the gold painted woman was carried out. Just goes to show you that while more current films like Skyfall get criticized for plot holes, the classics like Goldfinger seem to escape that criticism more easily.
  • edited December 2013 Posts: 3,336
    Everything the guy mentions is known since the film was released, so why does he bother with it now? And why does he knock himself out on such details when there are much bigger suspensions of logic?
    I shouldn´t waste my time here.
  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 It was this or the priesthood.
    edited December 2013 Posts: 26,707
    boldfinger wrote:
    Everything the guy mentions is known since the film was released, so why does he bother with it now? And why does he knock himself out on such details when there are much bigger suspensions of logic?
    I shouldn´t waste my time here.
    No need to smite the guy. All he was doing was adding his own commentary on an understandably confusing part of the film, as we do day in and day out on this very forum for the Bond films and novels, which you "waste" your time on quite often.
  • Posts: 2,683
    Well, I have a theory. IMHO, Jill didn't die of "skin suffocation", but of plain skin poisoning. Paints were toxic in those days (lead based paint, anyone ?), and are not so safe now. YMMV, of course.
  • MayDayDiVicenzoMayDayDiVicenzo Here and there
    Posts: 4,833
    Everything that he has said has been said before. Still, I love this scene whether its possible or not.
  • edited December 2013 Posts: 140
    The scene is very dramatically effective. In fact, it has provided one of the most iconic images in all of cinema. So what if it's not entirely plausible.

    I always assumed that Oddjob knocked Jill out with a Judo chop to the neck before he painted her. And as for how he managed to do such a neat job before Bond woke up, I just assume that Oddjob was a master body painter.

    One thing I've never explained to myself to my own satisfaction is how Oddjob got into the room without anyone noticing in the first place. Dude wasn't exactly the master of subtlety.
  • edited December 2013 Posts: 408
    Evanier has returned to the topic today (
    Evanier wrote:
    I'm not sure why I'm devoting so much space to trashing a movie that I like as much as Goldfinger. I guess I'm fascinated that I like it so much despite the fact that you could drive the Battlestar Galactica through some of its gaps in logic. Here's a message from Douglas McEwan…
    McEwan wrote:
    All the stuff about the problems of killing Shirley Eaton by painting her gold are on the nose. The ones from the book you mentioned today bothered me when I first read the novel, back before the movie even came out. (My dad, who was given to monitoring my reading, though unlike Mother, he knew better than to try to censor or restrict my reading, also read it, and got caught up in explaining to me how the logistics of moving the gold out of Fort Knox were beyond impractical, even though Fleming devotes an entire chapter to explaining how to do it in great detail. That plot hole the movie fixed.)

    But what got me in the movie was the Hood's Congress and the death of the gangster Solo. ("Hood's Congress" is the title of the first of three chapters covering Goldfinger's explanation of the heist to the hoods.) In the movie, he gives the hoods the most-elaborate show-and-tell explanation of his plan imaginable, with giant movie props and that flipping pool table/control panel, and the huge model that rises from the floor. He's spent thousands on this lecture's props, and then he just kills them afterwards. Why not kill them without the lecture? Also, in the book, he doesn't kill them; they all participate in the heist.

    And then there's Solo, who gave his name to Napoleon Solo in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (Literally. Fleming consulted on the series's creation and suggested the name from his book.) He wants his million in gold now! Goldfinger gives it to him, Oddjob drives him and a million dollars in gold (Hope that car had super-duper suspension) off, pulls over, shoots Solo, then has the car smushed into a cube, an oddly non-bloody cube given that a human being has been crushed within. I'd expect it to be running blood. Oddjob drives the cube back in a pick-up truck that appeared by magic, and we hear Goldfinger say: "Excuse me, I must extract my gold from Mr. Solo," which, I would think, would be difficult and bothersome.

    Why not just take Solo out of the room and shoot him? What possible point was served by crushing him in the car with the gold? All it did was force Goldfinger into a tiresome chore of extracting the gold from the crushed car. It doesn't even constitute getting Solo's body off Goldfinger's property, since Oddjob just drove him back and his remains will be out again as they extract the gold. All Oddjob has accomplished is to make the gold hard to get to and to destroy gratuitously a very nice car. (In the second unit shots of the car driving about, Oddjob was doubled by Michael Wilson, who now produces the Bond movies.)

    In the novel, Solo participates in the robbery of Fort Knox. Another hood refuses and demands immediate payment. Goldfinger sends him out of the room and presses a button to signal Oddjob. A few minutes later Oddjob returns and this scene ensues:


    [Goldfinger said:] "I have received bad news. Our friend Mr. Helmut Springer has met with an accident. He fell down the stairs. Death was instantaneous."

    "Ho, ho!" Mr. Ring's laugh was not a laugh. It was a hole in the face. "And what does that Slappy Hapgood, his torpedo, have to say about it?"

    Goldfinger said gravely, "Alas, Mr. Hapgood also fell down the stairs and has succumbed to his injuries."

    Mr. Solo looked at Goldfinger with new respect. He said softly, "Mister, you better get those stairs fixed before me and my friend Guilo come to use them."

    Goldfinger said seriously, "The fault has been located. Repairs will be put in hand at once."


    Vastly more logical, with no one forced to extract a million dollars worth of gold, in 1964 dollars, from a crushed Caddy. The hoods have a laugh about it. And we didn't get: "I have received bad news. Our friend Mr. Helmut Springer has met with an accident. He fell into a vat of gold paint and his pores suffocated."
    All true. But let's get to the biggest leap in logic: How the hell does Goldfinger think he's going to get away with Operation Grand Slam? He and his private army fly in, kill hundreds of U.S. soldiers, detonate a nuclear device that will probably destroy most of a city and also render the gold in Fort Knox radio-active for 58 years, thereby enhancing many times over the value of the gold he owns.

    Big question: Would it work like that? I mean, the U.S. still has the gold, almost all of which was probably going to sit in the vault for 58 years untouched, anyway. Would it really become valueless until the year 2022?

    Bigger question: So, uh, what happens to Mr. Goldfinger when the combined military forces of the United States of America come after him, bomb the bejeesus out of every damn building he owns, kill him and seize his gold? I mean, what's he going to do? Have Oddjob throw his hat at the First Marine Division?

    I mean, it's not like Goldfinger can cover up his involvement in all this just by killing James Bond. The authorities already know where Bond is and besides, Goldfinger has way too many employees to keep his role a secret. If China is involved, he might start World War III in the process but there's no way he's going to get away to enjoy his more-valuable-than-ever gold.

    I know, I know. It's not supposed to make sense. I think I'm just impressed that the movie "works" in spite of the fact that so little of it makes sense. And I think I like the fact that when you come right down to it, this whole ghastly plan is not foiled by Bond's cunning or courage or expert spy work. It's foiled because Pussy Galore develops a crush on him…

  • It is a bit stupid but the film doesn't take itself very seriously and it's a very dramatic and shocking scene so I'm fine with it.
  • Posts: 140
    McEwan wrote:
    Vastly more logical, with no one forced to extract a million dollars worth of gold, in 1964 dollars, from a crushed Caddy. The hoods have a laugh about it. And we didn't get: "I have received bad news. Our friend Mr. Helmut Springer has met with an accident. He fell into a vat of gold paint and his pores suffocated."

    Sorry to get all pedantic here, but it was a Lincoln, not a Caddy.

    I agree that Goldfinger is magnificently entertaining in spite of its gaping plot holes and leaps of logic. I think, however, that the types of issues that Evanier has been raising are among the reasons why I have always ranked GF a little lower than FRWL. The latter doesn't seem to require me to work quite as hard to suspend my disbelief.
  • Posts: 3,336
    I dare not imagine the degree of a heart attack the guy must experience should he ever watch Prometheus....
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