Filmsite Movie Review
Goldfinger (1964)
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Background

Goldfinger (1964) is the third entry in the long-running series of Bond films, the first of four films directed by Guy Hamilton, and the first official blockbuster for the franchise. It was also the second Bond film to use a pop star (Shirley Bassey) to sing the theme song "Goldfinger" during the titles. And it was the first movie to feature a title song that played over the opening credits. In addition, it was the first film in the series with a villain independent of SPECTRE. (See also alternative write-up at http://www.filmsite.org/series-jamesbond3.html).

Considered by most viewers as the quintessential 'Bond' film, it set many precedents and firmly established the formula for future 007 films, including:

  • Sean Connery's definitive portrayal of the MI6 agent, with a sense of humor, invincibility and a swaggering, charismatic and debonair attitude
  • nifty gadgets developed in Q's lab (i.e., a snorkel, wet-suit and helmet with a decoy seagull, a grappling hook gun, a battery-operated detonator-timer, a shoe heel's compartment to hide a miniature homing device, etc.)
  • iconic 'Bond Girls' and 'Bond Villains' (with clever names)
  • the first definitive pre-credits sequence and a great film theme song
  • many classic lines of dialogue (i.e., "A martini, shaken, not stirred")
  • exotic film locales (i.e., the Fountainbleau Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida, USA; London, England; the Stoke Poges Golf Club in Buckinghamshire, England; Geneva, Switzerland and the Swiss countryside; and Auric's Stud Farm near Blue Grass Field and Fort Knox in Kentucky)
  • great action sequences (e.g., the climactic Fort Knox assault and the one-on-one fight between Bond and Oddjob in the vault)

One of the film's main villains set a high-bar for evil: Korean manservant Oddjob (Harold Sakata), who wore an ill-fitting suit over his bulging muscles. He was most notable for his steel-brimmed bowler hat outfitted with a razor-sharp edge, designed to be lethal (to both objects and humans). To keep with the 'gold' theme, many aspects of the film emphasized the gold color - including this sampling of examples:

  • Goldfinger's yellow-painted 1937 Rolls-Royce Phantom III
  • the yellow sashes on Goldfinger's jump-suited Korean henchmen
  • the gold-painted victim - Jill Masterson
  • Goldfinger's gold pistol
  • the gold surfaced laser-torture table
  • Pussy Galore's metallic gold blouse
  • the yellow sunburst insignia on all the pilot uniforms of the all-blonde members of Pussy Galore's Flying Circus

In particular, Bond drove an Aston-Martin DB5 (in this film with pop-out machine guns, telescoping hubcap tire shredders, a smoke screen, an oil slick and smoke-screen deployer, a revolving license plate, front and rear bullet-proof shields, a tracer-receiving console (a radar homing device or GPS (the first in a film)), and a passenger ejector seat). One of the 'Bond Girls' was the not-so-subtly named Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman - one of the oldest Bond girls in the franchise's history, at 39 years of age). Another ill-fated 'Bond Girl' that became the film's iconic image was Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton) who died of suffocation after being painted in gold. In this film, Bond had four love-making encounters, and out of the 29 deaths in the film, Bond was responsible for eight of them.

After an initial pre-credits sequence set at a Latin American heroin drug lord's laboratory, British MI6 007 secret agent James Bond (Sean Connery) was dispatched to investigate gold-obsessed bullion dealer-smuggler Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) currently at a Miami hotel. During a brief affair with Goldfinger's mistress Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton) there, Bond was knocked unconscious in his hotel suite by Goldfinger's mute Korean servant Oddjob with a lethal bowler hat, and Goldfinger retaliated by having Masterson asphyxiated to death with gold body paint. During Bond's pursuit of Goldfinger to Switzerland, Bond assisted Jill's vengeful sister Tilly (Tania Mallet), but she also lost her life to Oddjob. Bond was captured and subjected to emasculation torture via a laser-beam.

Bond later was captured and transported by Goldfinger to his stud-horse ranch in Kentucky where he learned more about Goldfinger's grand plot, known as "Operation Grand Slam," orchestrated with gangsters assembled from around the country. His ultimate objective was to infiltrate the US Gold Depository at Fort Knox, contaminate the gold reserve for decades (by detonating a dirty bomb inside the vault holding the gold bullion), and profit personally from the disruption in the world's economy. In the climactic scene at Fort Knox, Pussy Galore's Flying Circus (five Piper single-engine planes) took off and sprayed Delta 9 nerve gas over the area and the facility's troops to gain entry, not realizing the gas canisters on the planes had somehow been changed. Military troops and government officials faked death, then revived, assaulted the depository, and killed Goldfinger's Korean henchmen. A personal showdown occurred between Bond and Oddjob, both caught inside Fort Knox's locked gold vault as a dirty nuclear bomb timer ticked down. Bond cleverly electrocuted Oddjob, and the bomb timer was disarmed by a scientist just as it reached '007'. Later, escaping villain Goldfinger (disguised in a US Army uniform) hijacked Bond's private jet enroute to the White House, but suffered death when the plane decompressed due to a gunshot and he was sucked through a window. Bond and sexy, lesbian-leaning, but converted private pilot Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman) parachuted with Bond from the plummeting and crashing jet to safety onto a tropical island, to experience some romance before being rescued.

The action film was very influential in the late 1960s in producing a crop of 'copy-cat' secret agent/spy/espionage films, including these two prominent series:

  • Derek Flint (James Coburn) in Our Man Flint (1966) and In Like Flint (1967)
  • Matt Helm (Dean Martin) in The Silencers (1966), Murderers' Row (1966), The Ambushers (1967), and The Wrecking Crew (1969)

It had a production budget of $3.5 million (the same total as the previous two Bond films), and gross revenue of $51 million (domestic) and $125 million (worldwide). It was the second highest-grossing (domestic) film of 1964, only surpassed by Disney's Mary Poppins (1964) with $72 million (and $102 million worldwide). Goldfinger was the first Bond film to be nominated for (and win) an Academy Award - its sole nomination for Best Sound Effects.

The Story


The Opening Credits Title Sequence:

The film opened with a sequence (performed by stuntman Bob Simmons) that was reused from Dr. No (1962) (this instance marked its last use in a Bond film). In the brief preface, the British secret agent (appearing inside a white animated dot simulating the interior of a circular, iris-like gun-barrel) walked toward the left, jumped and turned toward the threatening gun barrel aimed at him by an unknown assailant, and fired one shot. A shade of blood-red color dripped down from the top of the frame, as if he had hit his target. The barrel's animated white iris dot or circle disappeared.

Latin America Mission in Mexico - Pre-Title Credits Teaser Action Sequence:

A long, wordless pre-title credits action sequence began with a slow pan across a dark industrial area next to a harbor's body of water, and near enormous storage tanks (or silos). 007 secret MI6 agent James Bond (Sean Connery) swam in a black-colored wet suit with snorkel (and helmet with a decoy seagull on top) to the dock of the Ramirez Export Company, and emerged from the water. He tossed off his helmet breathing apparatus, climbed a ladder, and fired a grappling hook gun toward a wall in order to scale the obstacle. He jumped down and subdued a curious armed guard (Peter Brace) and kicked him unconscious. Then, after running across an open courtyard next to the series of large storage silos, he tripped a switch on one of the silos that opened a small rotating trap door. He entered the base of one of the tanks - and emerged in a large room.

He removed a black tubular sheath (covering C4 plastic explosives) tied around his waist, and attached the moldable putty to a row of large red drums labeled NITRO. He then set a detonation-timer to 12:20 am (about 25 minutes later) and synchronized it to his Rolex watch. He exited the way he entered, and non-chalantly removed his wet-suit to reveal a white-tuxedo dinner-jacket. He placed a red carnation in the coat's lapel button-hole.

Bond then entered the El Scorpio bar-cantina and watched sexy Spanish belly dancer Bonita (Nadja Regin) with a ruffled skirt entertaining a customer by shimmying her breasts near his face. Suddenly, at 12:20 am as expected, the bomb exploded and produced a large fireball. Bemused, he non-chalantly lit a cigarette as the patrons fled. He sauntered over to the bar where he was sarcastically congratulated by his contact Sierra (Raymond Young) for putting Latin American heroin-dealing drug-lord Ramirez "out of business." Bond replied:

At least he won't be using heroin-flavored bananas to finance revolutions.

He noticed the dancer Bonita angrily exiting the dance floor and storming off to her dressing room. Sierra warned him to not return to his hotel because he was being watched. There was a plane ready to transport him to Miami in one hour. Bond followed Bonita to attend to some "unfinished business." He found her washing herself in a bathtub - he tossed a towel hanging on a hook in her direction, and then removed his white dinner jacket (revealing a shoulder holster and gun). When she stood up in the bath, concealing her nakedness behind the towel, he kissed her. She flinched when his Walther PPK gun pressed against her during their embrace. After an apology, she wanted him to disarm:

Bonita: Why do you always wear that thing?
Bond: (removing his holster and hanging it on a hook) I have a slight inferiority complex.

As he kissed her a second time, he saw the reflection of drug-smuggling thug Capungo (Alf Joint) in her right eye. He had been hiding behind an armoire and snuck up poised to bludgeon Bond with a raised blunt weapon. He spun Bonita around, and she was struck in the head and knocked out. After a brief but intensely-physical struggle, Bond pushed him backwards into Bonita's bath-tub. As the killer flailed around in the water, and then reached for Bond's holster and gun, Bond electrocuted him by tossing a round electrical heater fan into the water - the killer's death was accentuated by sound effects of a 'sizzling' noise accompanied by smoke. As Bond retrieved his holster, he cleverly made a deadpan comment to Bonita who was moaning on the floor - and had been revealed to be a traitor, working secretly with heroin smuggler Ramirez:

Shocking, positively shocking.

Main Title Sequence:

The main title sequence, designed by Robert Brownjohn, was accompanied by Shirley Bassey singing the title song "Goldfinger." The super-imposed titles played atop images projected onto a model's bikini-clad, gold-painted body. The images mostly featured clips from the movie itself, although there were a few short segments from the two previous films: From Russia With Love (1963) and Dr. No (1962).

[Note: The model was Margaret Nolan, who also starred as Bond's Miami masseuse, Dink, one of the 'Bond Girls'. The popular 'Goldfinger' theme song was the first James Bond title song to crack the Billboard Top 10 - in February of 1965.]

Goldfinger
He's the man, the man with the Midas touch, a spider's touch.
Such a cold finger beckons you to enter his web of sin, but don't go in.

Chorus (repeated twice):
Golden words he will pour in your ear, but his lies can't disguise what you fear, for a golden girl knows when he's kissed her, it's the kiss of death from Mr. Goldfinger - pretty girl beware of this heart of gold, this heart is cold.

He loves only gold, only gold
He loves gold, he loves only gold
Only gold, he loves gold!

Bond In Miami, Florida - Goldfinger's Card-Scam Exposed:

After completing this mission in an unnamed Latin America country, British Secret Service agent James Bond flew to Miami, Florida - the film's next locale. A slow, establishing aerial shot consisted of a small plane flying over the Miami area with a trailing banner: "WELCOME TO MIAMI BEACH," while a big-band version of John Barry's "Into Miami" played on the soundtrack. The camera focused in on the magnificent, ocean-side Fountainbleau Hotel in Miami, Florida, with an opulent outdoor pool encircled by two stories of rooms, a high-diving platform, cabanas and dozens of lounge chairs for sunbathers. A diver (Otto Schmidt) splashed into the water - visible underwater through viewing glass next to a bar. An unidentified man in a gray business suit watched the diver, turned and walked past a roller-skating rink, and proceeded outside to the pool area through rows of fashionable lounging guests.

The gray-suited man was American CIA agent Felix Leiter (Cec Linder) - he interrupted Bond's pool-side massage from busty blonde Dink (Margaret Nolan), and greeted him with a double-entendre: "I thought I'd find you in good hands." To secure privacy for "man-talk," Bond chauvinistically dismissed Dink with a quick slap to her buttt. Felix delivered a message to Bond from "M" (Bernard Lee), the Head of Secret Intelligence Service (or MI6) in England, that he was no longer on vacation. His new mission was to "keep an eye" on rich, greedy, gold-smuggling villain Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe, whose German-accented voice was mostly dubbed by Michael Collins), another hotel guest. Bond joked about the villain's name: "Sounds like a French nail varnish."

[Note: Goldfinger's unusual first name 'Auric' was derived from the Periodic Table's chemical symbol or code for gold - AU. 'Auric' was also related to the Latin word for gold ("aurum").]

Leiter described him:

He's British, but he doesn't sound like it. Big operator, worldwide interests, all apparently quite reputable. Owns one of the finest stud farms in the States....He's clean as far as CIA's concerned.

Leiter pointed out Goldfinger, wearing a long gold-colored shirt (and gold ring and watch), as he descended some nearby stairs from an upper deck to attend his daily card game. Leiter pointed out Goldfinger's "pigeon" - a rich gin-rummy opponent named Simmons (Austin Willis) who was being fleeced in a card-shark scam. He had already lost $10,000 during the previous week. To recoup his losses, Simmons suggested doubling the stakes to "five dollars a point." Goldfinger was wearing a hearing aid with an amplifier in his pocket. Bond approached, surveyed the set-up, and looked up in the direction of one of the high-rise hotel suites - approximately Goldfinger's line of sight.

In an upper floor's corridor within the Fountainbleau Hotel, Bond borrowed the master-room key from the chambermaid (Janette Rowsell) to enter Room # 905 - Auric Goldfinger's suite. As he entered, he overheard a female voice (outside on the veranda) describing Goldfinger's opponent's cards during the gin-rummy game below: "He just drew the king of clubs. That makes his count fifty-nine. He's got a diamond run, 8 9, 10. He's holding onto the six of spades. So I guess he thinks you want it. That last draw was the eight of hearts. He needs kings and queens."

Bond and Jill Masterson - Her Gold-Painted Fate:

Wearing a black bikini, the pretty blonde female was reclining face-down while speaking into a small microphone and observing the card-game through large high-powered binoculars. She was relaying instructions and information on Simmons' cards, transmitted to Goldfinger through his earpiece. Bond stealthily came up behind her and switched off her transmitter. She whirled around to confront him - he identified himself simply:

Bond. James Bond.

He had very easily disrupted and foiled the cheating scam - and now watched as the frustrated Goldfinger fiddled with his deactivated earpiece, and promptly lost the next game. Bond leaned over the blonde's body, took a look through the binoculars, and asked for her name - Auric's assistant was Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton) - she admitted that she was well-paid to be his 'eyes' during card games and to accompany him as his platonic mistress-escort. He cautioned her: "You're much too nice to be mixed up in anything like this." Bond turned the transmitter back on and through the earpiece, threatened Auric to lose $15K (so that Simmons could gradually recoup his losses) or he would call the local police: "Your luck has just changed. I doubt very much if the Miami Beach police would take kindly to what you're doing....Now start losing, Goldfinger. Shall we say, uh, $10,000 dollars? No, let's be generous. Let's make it $15,000." As his winning streak began to crumble, the enraged Goldfinger broke his pencil in two.

The free-spirited Jill then encouraged Bond: "I'm beginning to like you, Mr. Bond...More than anyone I've met in a long time, James." He invited her to "the best place in town" for dinner. Their kiss on the balcony dissolved into a view of an elegant tray of room-service catering in his hotel suite - but untouched. The camera panned over to the foot of the bed where the two were rubbing their feet together. They were reclined on his bed (with light gold-colored sheets) while embracing and kissing - he was bare chested with blue PJ bottoms, while she wore panties and his PJ shirt. A political announcement on a portable radio on the dresser stated that "the President said he was entirely satisfied" -- as he turned off the radio, Bond seconded the thought: "That makes two of us."

The couple was interrupted when he received a call from Felix Leiter for dinner, and Bond declined: "Something big's come up." He agreed to a 9 am breakfast instead. Lying back, Jill gave Bond a very seductive look - he moved over on top of her as he commented: "Oh, it's lost its chill" - he was referring to a Dom Perignon '53 champagne bottle on ice near the bed that he had ordered for the occasion. He insisted on getting another freshly-cooled bottle in the kitchen's refrigerator in an adjoining room (behind a bamboo curtain): "My dear girl, there are some things that just aren't done. Such as drinking Dom Perignon '53 above a temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. That's as bad as listening to the Beatles without ear-muffs." As he knelt down to look into the fridge for the "passion juice," he was knocked out from behind with a blunt karate-chop to the neck - delivered from a shadowy figure wearing a bowler hat. It was the signature look of Goldfinger's mute, formally-dressed, black-jacketed Korean henchman Oddjob (Harold Sakata). The shadow on the wood-paneling wall slowly moved away.

When Bond revived on the floor, he staggered into the bedroom, finding Jill as an unfortunate victim of skin suffocation by gold paint. She was sprawled naked - and dead on the bed. One arm dangled over the side of the bed. She was painted from head to toe as retaliation for her betrayal - a victim of Goldfinger's revenge. He phoned and notified Felix of the murder: "The girl's dead...And she's covered in paint. Gold paint."

[Note: The creative means of death had been copied - in Ian Fleming's seventh novel Goldfinger (published in 1959) - from the B-horror movie Bedlam (1946) from famed producer Val Lewton. In the RKO film, 'Bedlam' referred to a notorious, 18th century mental institution outside London formally known as St. Mary's of Bethlehem Asylum, whose cruel head warden was George Sims (Boris Karloff). One of his young inmates in the madhouse, known as the "gilded boy" (Glenn Vernon), while he was performing a recitation on stage during a banquet, suffocated, collapsed and fell dead as a result of the painted gilding on his skin. The institution's main patron Lord Mortimer (Billy House), one of the banquet guests, mentioned: "Somewhere I heard that the human body must breathe through its pores. If you shut those pores..." - a reinforcement of the idea that suffocation of the skin would result in death. Sims coldly remarked after the boy died: "This boy is dead because his pores are clogged by the gilt...you will grant me the legal fact that this boy died by his own exhalations. You might say he poisoned himself."]

Bond's Briefing in London with M:

Bond flew to London, England, identified by a tilted-down aerial camera shot of Parliament, Big Ben, and Westminster Bridge. He met for a briefing with his boss "M", where he first described Jill Masterson's horrible death - he blamed it on Goldfinger: "She died of skin suffocation. It's been known to happen to cabaret dancers. It's all right so long as you leave a small bare patch at the base of the spine to allow the skin to breathe." Bond was cautioned about taking out a "personal vendetta" against Goldfinger, and was warned that Agent 008 would replace him if he couldn't treat his next assignment against Goldfinger "coldly and objectively." He was also reprimanded for not following orders:

You were supposed to observe Mr. Goldfinger, not borrow his girlfriend.

While Goldfinger fled to Europe, Bond was lucky to have escaped being held by Miami Beach police due to the intervention of Felix Leiter and the British Embassy in Washington, DC. "M" asked Bond: "What do you know about gold? - Not paint, bullion." Bond was instructed to return for a black tie dinner at 7:00 pm. As he left "M's" office, he would have to bypass M's personal secretary Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) with her usual flirtations, who felt unrequited love for Bond and kept hinting at a marriage proposal:

Bond: And what do you know about gold, Moneypenny?
Moneypenny: Oh, the only gold I know about is the kind you wear. (She held up her left hand) You know, on the third finger of your left hand?
Bond: Hmm. One of these days we really must look into that.

After tossing his hat onto the hat-rack with deadly accuracy, she invited him for dinner at her place that night - and promised to cook him an angel cake, although he had a perfect alibi to avoid her - a previously-arranged "business appointment." She suspected it was only another flimsy excuse because he was dating some other 'lucky girl,' but on the intercom, "M" (who was listening in), confirmed Bond's engagement with him:

She is me, Miss Moneypenny. And kindly omit the customary by-play with 007. He's dining with me, and I don't want him to be late.

As Bond was about to leave, Moneypenny appeared hopeful: "So there's hope for me yet?" He kissed her cheek, grabbed his hat and replied: "Moneypenny, won't you ever believe me?"

Bond's Mission Described by Colonel Smithers:

After a formal dinner that evening in the Bank of England's dining room, three men at the end of a long table (set with candelabras) enjoyed a brandy from a decanter, attentive service from servant Brunskill (Denis Cowles), and a cigar offered from a box. Bond was briefed by "M" and Colonel Smithers (Richard Vernon), a distinguished British bank executive (governor) with the Bank of England:

We here at the Bank of England, Mr. Bond, are the official depository for gold bullion, just as Fort Knox, Kentucky is for the United States. We know, of course, the amounts we each hold, we know the amounts deposited in other banks, and we can estimate what is being held for industrial purposes. This enables the two governments to establish respectively the true value of the dollar and the pound. And consequently, we are vitally concerned with unauthorized leakages.

Bond knew that the word "leakages" was a euphemism for "smuggling." Smithers continued to describe how gold bullion was an ideal substance for illegal smuggling between countries, because it could be easily melted down into various shapes. Goldfinger's holdings consisted of gold bullion (worth 20 million pounds) on deposit in Zurich, Amsterdam, Caracas, and Hong Kong:

Gold, gentlemen, which has been melted down and recast, is virtually untraceable, which makes it, uh, unlike diamonds, ideal for smuggling, attracting the biggest and most ingenious criminals....Gentlemen, Mr. Goldfinger has gold bullion on deposit in Zurich, Amsterdam, Caracas and Hong Kong, worth 20 million pounds. Most of it came from this country.

Goldfinger, who was both a "legitimate bullion dealer" and "legitimate international jeweler," also legally operated "modest metallurgical installations" for melting down gold. His British smelting facility was in Kent. With all of his resources and smelting installations, he was suspected of illegally transferring (or smuggling) some of his gold internationally in order to make a profit by selling it where the value of gold was higher. Smithers, with the cooperation of British intelligence, needed to learn more about Goldfinger's entire operation - was he illegally smuggling?:

As yet, we have failed to discover how he transfers his gold overseas, and Lord knows we've tried. (To "M") If your department can establish that it is done illegally, then the Bank could institute proceedings to recover the bulk of his holdings.

Bond agreed to arrange a social - and business - meeting with Goldfinger - providing that he could tempt him with enticing "bait" provided by Smithers. The bank representative unwrapped an object held in a dark green cloth - it was one bar of gold bullion (worth 5,000 pounds) that had been recovered from the Nazi hoard at the bottom of Lake Toplitz (in the Salzkammergut). A close-up of the gleaming, shiny gold bar was accompanied by Smithers' warning:

Mr. Bond can make whatever use of it he thinks fit - providing he returns it, of course.

A Technical Briefing About Gadgets with Q:

The next morning at the Q-Branch, the Research and Development arm of the British Secret Service, two laboratory engineers wearing gas masks inside a glass cubicle were experimenting with a parking meter that emitted a white gas when a coin was inserted. Bond watched and then walked over to another table and picked up a hand grenade concealed in a container. In another area of the lab, a man (George Leech) wearing a trench-coat concealing a bullet-proof vest was fired at with a machine-gun.

The lab's director Q or Quartermaster (Desmond Llewelyn) (aka Major Boothroyd), the head of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), bantered with Bond about how his Bentley had been retired (by M's orders), and was to be replaced with a new vehicle, a 1964 gray Aston-Martin DB5 ("with modifications") bearing license plate BMT 216A (for the UK).

[Note: The two other license plates when it revolved were 4711-EA-62 (France), and LU 6789 (Switzerland).]

During their discussion, Q kept expressing his exasperation at Bond for not paying attention, for joking around, and for not showing respect for the various gadgets that took years to develop - he would often lose them, damage them, or destroy them:

  • Bond's inattentiveness: "Now pay attention, please."
  • Bond's disregard for the gadgets, such as the homing device: "We'd appreciate its return, along with all your other equipment -- intact, for once, when you return from the field."
  • Bond's lackadaisical attitude: "I never joke about my work, 007."

Q noted all of the newest gadgets available on the vehicle - most of which were operated via a set of trigger switches hidden under the driver's arm rest:

  • bulletproof windshield, as well as the side and rear windows
  • revolving license plates ("valid all countries")
  • a transmitting radar-homing device (a "homer" or GPS) in a small silver case, with a second newer version small enough to fit into the heel of Bond's shoe; it was to be used to trace a car
  • a dashboard, audio-visual console-receiver with a range of 150 miles
  • an arm-rest hiding "defense mechanism controls," including smoke screen, oil slick, rear bullet-proof screen, and left and right front wing machine guns
  • a shift-gear knob hiding a red button that activated a passenger ejector seat (and top roof release)

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