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Today’s battle is a bit less pitched than last time. This is partly because our films are so mismatched. Nevertheless, there may be something fun, here. So, let the battle commence between our #49 bout:

49. Tom Hanks in Philadelphia vs. Auric Goldfinger

BACKGROUND

1993’s Philadelphia, Tom Hanks plays a homosexual lawyer who *surprise* has AIDS. These he has kept from his work buds; which is kind of surprising, given that his boyfriend is Antonio Banderas (way to go, Tom!). Then, Hanks starts having some fairly major medical issues, forcing him to rely on his assistants to file important paperwork. When this doesn’t happen, he is dismissed. Hanks immediately assumes that the misplacement of the documents was intentional to give the partners an excuse to fire him because of the AIDS. (Dra-ma!) Eventually, Hanks manages to get Denzel Washington to represent his wrongful termination lawsuit and they’re a black guy and a gay guy going up against “the system”.

Auric Goldfinger, the eponymous Bond villain, is working for SMERSH, a Soviet anti-espionage group that actually existed. His plan, in the film, is to destroy and/or irradiate all of the gold in Fort Knox, striking a blow to the States in the Ruskies’ favor. He’s obsessed with gold in numerous creepy ways and generally expects Mr. Bond to die.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE

Hanks is playing a fallen attorney. He’s got years of legal training, access to huge libraries, a nasally voice and Antonio Banderas. Unfortunately, he’s in declining health and isn’t especially clever. This is a somewhat ironically David-and-Goliath story. Hanks is competent without being a star; he’s an average lawyer who has put in his time with the company. He’s also hit with debilitating medical issues, thanks to the AIDS. Basically, the character is a sympathy magnet with the kind of legislative paranoia that’s since become cliche. Though, in a fist fight, the AIDS would work as a deterrent.

This may come down to a race between AIDS and a heart attack.

Auric Goldfinger is the treasurer of a badass Soviet government organization. He’s the richest man in England and cheats at canasta. So, there’s all that hammer-and-sickle back-up, all the stuff money gets you, plus Oddjob and his metal rimmed hat, plus the services of Pussy Galore and her army of acrobats.

MOTIVES AND METHODS

Hanks believes he was sabotaged with absolutely no real evidence whatsoever goes after his bosses with a law suit because, hey, this is America and that’s how we deal with things.

Way to fight the stereotypes, guys!

As this is a Hollywood court of law, circumstantial evidence is totally admissible and the case goes forward. Despite contracting AIDS via anonymous sex in a porno theater, he’s somehow a victim and the fact that he never reported his handicap is ultimately okay. Essentially, Hanks has the entire US legal system eating out of the hand they homophobically refuse to shake.

Auric Goldfinger wants more money. His logic behind Operation: Grand Slam is that by eliminating the US’s supply of gold, his own will become more valuable. Of course, his bosses want to tip the balance of the Cold War, but that’s largely secondary to Auric. He’s ruthless, greedy and generally the template for all future Bond villains.

Fun fact: both characters were based a little too closely on real life people. Hanks on one Geoffrey Bowers and Auric on Erno Goldfinger. Bowers was an associate at a law firm, fired without a history of poor performance and without the proper procedures of termination. He died less than a year later. His family spent six years in court and was interviewed by the filmmakers, but never compensated. Erno Goldfinger was Ian Fleming’s neighbor, an influential architect and notorious hot head. Both the Bowers family and Goldfinger sought legal cases against the creative types and settled out of court.

THE SHOWDOWN

Round 1: Court of Law

Hanks has been fired by Goldfinger’s company, who hired him as legal council in an important case, after nearly botching the job. Hanks calls discrimination and takes him to court. With Operation: Grand Slam in a crucial phase, Goldfinger cannot afford to have his company scrutinized, so he settles out of court, laughing maniacally, because they pay Hanks in US dollars, which will become worthless when they hit Fort Knox.

TIE.

Round 2: Goldfinger’s plant

Auric is unhappy with his legal council, not because of the AIDS, but because he believes him to be a spy. Hanks gets tied to the laser table and insists that he’s not a spy. He even convinces Goldfinger that he’s not a spy, which is actually a bad move on his part because he now knows too much. Weakened by his disease, he has no hope of escape and gets cut in half.

WINNER: Goldfinger

Leave this to the professionals, Hanks.

Round 3: Henchmen rumble

Okay, so it’s come to this. We need two wins to be really decisive. So, in the Philly corner, we have Antonio Banderas leading the really gay posse (including the tight t-shirted Bruno), Denzel Washington and his endless supply of business cards and AIDS.

Auric’s got professional assassin Oddjob, that big laser and Pussy Galore, with her acrobats. Plus, a handful of American mafiosos.

The battle is balanced a bit by Pussy giving Hanks an LGBT high-five and switching sides. Everyone runs at each other, there’s a big dust cloud with fist and feet sticking out at various points and, when the dust settles… everyone is battered, bleeding and is serious risk of contracting AIDS.

WINNER: AIDS

I admire their restraint in not using Batman and/or Robin.

Okay, so not a particularly exciting round. Bleeding heart liberal underdogs just don’t make great champions of anything except their niche causes. Goldfinger, on the other hand, doesn’t really give a crap about legality, making him a fairly uninteresting foil to a major figure in legal precedence. He does, however, have the good sense to listen to Bob and make the settlement brought up 45 minutes into the movie, instead of getting all up in arms over having AIDS at the company’s family picnic. So, this one’s going to Goldfinger.

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