The Washington Post has an interesting interview up with Eric Lichtenfeld, the author of Action Speaks Louder: Violence, Spectacle, and the American Action Movie. He is asked why he doesn’t cite Goldfinger as a turning point for the action movie in his book:
The Bond films (“Goldfinger” chief among them) have definitely been an influence on the action movie, just as the action movie has been an influence on the Bond films. I think you can look at the James Bond series as being its own genre; in fact, it’s probably the only franchise we could give this distinction to.
Still, I disagree that “Goldfinger” is the first action film. I start in 1971 because I believe that the movie that “started” the genre is “Dirty Harry.” The reason for this is that “Dirty Harry” was the first to combine the elements of other genres that make up the action movie, and became the archetype other action films responded to. (Of course, another ingredient of the action movie is heightened violence; “Bonnie and Clyde” set the stage for this in 1967.)
I think the influence of James Bond was felt later, especially as action movies came to feature bigger and more extreme stunts.