I had higher expectations than usual when watching "Goldfinger", given the film's reputation as one of the best Bond movies of all time. And I feel confident in saying I can see why.
First of all, I thought the pacing, special effects, and villains were all improved in this film than in "Dr. No". This movie doesn't feel like it drags as often as the latter, thanks to the engaging script that offers plenty of surprises with the plot of the film and the villains and characters. The action scenes were also very entertaining. The filmmakers amped up the excitement scale with larger environments and some tense moments involving a bowler hat (even though some green screen effects looked obvious).
My favorite elements of this movie were the main villain, Goldfinger, and his henchman, Oddjob. Immediately when Goldfinger is introduced, he is shown to have hidden vices: he's cheating in a card game. And despite Oddjob's silence, he is a deadly opponent, with a cool hat-weapon ready to fire.
The one sequence that I thought was kind of convenient is near the end, when Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman) turns good after Bond supposedly "tames" her (to understate things). I found it convenient because I don't think a woman would save a man after being in her situation, but on the other hand, in the franchise, Bond is shown to have enough charm over women to get what he wants, even if at their cost (like the woman painted in gold at the beginning).
*end of spoilers*
So despite its somewhat flimsy ending, "Goldfinger" is still a very well-crafted thrill-ride with great action sequences, and great performances and characters.
Gert Frobe is great as Auric, gentlemanly geniality barely concealing menace. Harold Sakata is also really good as Oddjob, Goldfinger's hat-slinging mute Korean manservant.
Honor Blackman is a fine Pussy. Shirley Eaton is good fun as Jill. Tania Mallet is not quite as good, as Jill's vengeful sister Tilly, but does OK.
Guy Hamilton's first (and easily best) effort as director set the standard for the series for many years to come, introducing an overall jokier tone than the previous two, most obviously in Bond's affectionate needling of the grouchy Q.
The score is one of John Barry's best (for me, it's second only to OHMSS), and the Shirley Bassey theme song has rightfully become a classic.
Overall, this is still probably the best Bond movie ever made.