The 50th anniversary of James Bond is clipping along at an uneven pace that has suddenly picked up positive momentum. The shaky start of another forgettable theme song and the embarrassment of that Heineken commercial did not bode well. And while the Brits seemed to regard Daniel Craig's stunt with the Queen for the Olympics as the height of television history, the view from colonies was less enraptured.
Things have picked up quite nicely in November, however. "Skyfall" is burning up the British box office and the film is even getting serious mention for Oscar nominations outside of Best Song. Adele's song is so undistinguished that it could be considered a template for what the Academy considers a great movie song so let's just give Adele her Oscar now.
You can't speak of James Bond's 50 years of screen history without eventually getting around to another golden figure. One of the most emblematic images of in the Bond canon is that of Shirley Eaton gold-painted body as the victim of the nefarious Auric Goldfinger. Nothing quite says James Bond like the fact that all that glitters is a naked lady covered from head to toe in gold paint. Only the masterminds of the Bond franchise could come up with something so….so…so Bond.
Except that Shirley Eaton wasn't naked. She was actually wearing a g-string. Neither was Easton painted from head to toe. Embracing the scientific beliefs of the day-and likely the current scientific beliefs of those who question global warming and evolution-a small patch of Eaton's skin was left unpainted to allow her skin to breathe so that she didn't accidentally die from a lack of oxygen permeating her skin. Today we know that Eaton could have been bare-bottomed nekkid and every last millimeter of skin could have been buried beneath paint and she would face that particular mortal threat. Instead, she would most likely have died from a bizarre means of heat stroke caused by clogged pores.
Oh, and there's one last bubble to burst. The fact is that the death of a character from being covered with paint did not originate with "Goldfinger."
In fact, James Bond was about two decades late to this particular party. "Goldfinger" was a typical mid-1960s Sean Connery type of Bond movie. "Bedlam" is an atypical type of atmospheric horror/suspense film that producer Val Lewton perfected in the 1940s. Unlike his masterpieces of the period, "Bedlam" is a period piece in which a chilling scene involving women walking alone is nowhere to be seen.
Instead, horror is conveyed at an elaborate party in which a young man has been painted gold from head to toe as part of his part as the evening's entertainment. Not long after the striking display is unveiled, things start going wrong. Unlike in "Goldfinger" the death of this golden figure does not take place off-screen. Fans of Val Lewton will recognize at once the inherent irony in that.
For more from Timothy Sexton, Yahoo!s first Writer of the Year, check out:
- Arts & Entertainment
- James Bond
- Shirley Eaton
- Auric Goldfinger