One of my favourite movie stars, Sean Connery, is no more, alas. On the news of the latest national lockdown in England, I felt the need to watch something familiar and comforting – I just had to refresh my memory of Connery by digging out the DVD of one of his first Bond movies, Goldfinger, in which his task is to find out how the crooked bullion dealer Auric Goldfinger, played by Gert Fröbe – the producers wanted Orson Welles but he asked for too much money – smuggles gold bullion across countries’ borders.
The movie’s treatment of women dates it horribly but despite that it has a tremendous narrative drive with gold centre stage, and the inimitable Connery smoothing his way out of all kinds of death traps.
The film was made in 1964 and back then it was a criminal act for US citizens to own or trade gold anywhere in the world. This ridiculous legislative handcuff on individual freedom dated from 1933 but began to be relaxed in 1964, when Goldfinger came out.
Goldfinger shows the extent to which people went to trade gold at those times. Goldfinger always travels with his Rolls-Royce Phantom III, hiding some gold in secret compartments and melting the rest to incorporate into the car’s bodywork. The demoniacal plot of Goldfinger is to break into Fort Knox in the US and render radioactive the gold stored there. Fort Knox, officially called the United States Bullion Depositary, holds 4,578 tonnes of gold, roughly 3% of all the gold ever mined and is second only to the Federal Reserve’s more than 6,000 tonnes of gold held in an underground vault in Manhattan.
The world has moved on in so many ways since 1964 – holding gold is no longer criminal.
Of course, Goldfinger is thwarted by Bond but not before another iconic gold moment, the discovery of a naked, dead and gold-paint-covered Shirley Eaton, who played Jill Masterson, Goldfinger’s assistant, splayed face-down on a bed.
The world is a very different place today from 56 years ago – for one thing anyone can own gold without risking getting a criminal record. And thanks to the digitisation of our lives owning and using gold in daily life is simplicity itself, thanks to Glint.
And if the US dollar is losing its position as the world’s reserve currency, the US at least has plenty of the dollar’s successor – gold.
See you next week,