Super Alpine

On the trail of Goldfinger

Exploring the alpine locations in the third James Bond film

Sean Connery and Tania Mallet at the petrol station Aurora in Andermatt

Sean Connery and Tania Mallet at the petrol station Aurora in Andermatt 1

Tania on the descent of the Furka pass towards Realp

Tania on the descent of the Furka pass towards Realp 1

The Aurora in Andermatt

In 2021, the Aurora in Andermatt is no longer a petrol station

Sign on the Furka pass for James Bond Strasse

In 2021 there are two signs on the Furka pass, one marking it as James Bond Strasse and another commemorating the life of Sean Connery

Goldfinger was the first James Bond film to feature the Alps and the third in the long-running movie series. The film was made in 1964 and was based on the 1959 novel written by Ian Fleming. It was the seventh James Bond novel.

The film made a passable attempt at the novel, unlike the movies that followed. In the novel, James Bond follows Auric Goldfinger down that well-driven route through France that all British visitors to the Alps take, although without today's motorways. Bond makes it as far as Geneva, Switzerland, staying at the Hotel des Bergues. Bond's cover is he works for Universal Exports - which has offices in Geneva. From here Bond gets involved with Tilly Masterson's assassination attempt of Goldfinger at Coppet, just up the lake shore from Geneva where Goldfinger Enterprises Auric A.G. are based. That's as far as Bond makes it into the Alps - really just the Jura. In the film, Goldfinger (played by Gert Fröbe) airfreights his Roll- Royce Silver Ghost from the UK to Switzerland after taking a beating at golf by Bond. Bond (played by Sean Connery) follows thanks to the RAF transporting his Aston Martin DB5.

The Furka scenes start with Goldfinger's Rolls Royce passing the Hotel Belvédère and Bond following. Although Bond is filmed at Realp, which is actually at the end of the pass. Using the DB5's satellite navigation, he follows Goldfinger, although, like the Google maps of today, it's easily confused, showing Goldfinger outside of Geneva on the lake road near Coppet (perhaps the sat nav people only saw the book, not the script). Bond is then overtaken on the top of the pass by Tilly Masterson (played by Tania Mallet). Tilly is the sister of Jill Masterson (played by Shirley Eaton), Goldfinger's assistant and the girl suffocated by gold paint in the iconic scene of the movie.

Goldfinger then stops at a fruit seller on the descent to Realp and Bond stops to watch, nearly being hit by a bullet aimed at Goldfinger and fired by Tilly. A chase then ensues where Bond derails Tilly's Mustang with his Aston. Bond then proceeds to drop Tilly off at a petrol station in Andermatt.

The petrol station closed on the film's 50th anniversary and today the Hotel Aurora sits on the site. A sad-looking place that may or may not still be in business, the concrete plinth of the petrol pumps is the only remaining evidence of its previous fame. Much of the Furka pass is the same today as in 1964, except for the gravel road surface by the Belvédère, which is now tarmac and generally, the pass is a bit wider. Most of the buildings on the Furka including the Belvédère are disused and fading away. The only new addition is a sign on the descent where Bond stopped to watch Goldfinger - James Bond Str and a plinth commemorating the life of Sean Connery, who died in 2020.

Later on in the film, Goldfinger's smelting factory uses the Pilatus Aircraft factory in Stans on the far side of Lake Lucerne. They manufactured the Pilatus Porter PC- 6, a pilotless plane that Pierce Brosnan skydived into during the opening sequence of Goldeneye. Tilly attempting to shoot Goldfinger for the second time was also filmed at the factory, although the Aston's crash that follows was filmed on a backlot at Pinewood Studios.

During the filming of the movie, Sean Connery stayed in room 21 of the Bergidyll Hotel in Andermatt. Connery wouldn't recognise much of Andermatt today thanks to a major expansion taking place over the last five years.

Further reading


Footnotes

  1. Photography credit: ETH-Bibliothek Zürich, Bildarchiv / Fotograf: Comet Photo AG (Zürich) / Com_C13-035-007 / CC BY-SA 4.0