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A lifelong Bond fan and property manager in New York, Michael DiLeo did something that many of us wish we could; he published a book on James Bond. The Spy Who Thrilled Us: A Guide to the Best of Cinematic James Bond takes a candid and refreshing look at the Bond series through lists and top-five moments. Universal Exports recently had a chance to chat with Michael DiLeo, who saw his first Bond film at the tender age of four, to chat about life, Bond and his successful book.


How did you come about writing your book? Was it a labor of love?
Yes, it was definitely a labor of love. I came to the decision that I was going to attempt to write a book and Bond was the obvious subject matter for me to tackle, because I have been a Bond but since I was a kid (I am now 36).

How long did it take to write and did you find the work and researching tiring given you worked on the book alone?
Much longer than I would have liked! Actually about 2 and 1/2 years -- but I not only had a full-time job, I also met and married my wife during this time period, so these other responsibilities frequently got in the way of my writing. There were times where I didn't write a word for a couple of months. Not the ideal situation for a writer, but I just had to keep plugging away whenever I found the time. As for research, it just required popping in my DVDs to review the necessary scenes that I was writing about. The lists in the book were just made from memory - from having watched the films over and over again for the last 30 or so years!

The book highlights your view on the cinematic series; its highs and lows. Did you encounter any difficulties considering your data was mainly based on opinion?
Well I state right up front in the introduction that this book is my opinion. So I just looked at it as if I was writing one large film review and I knew going in that not everyone was going to agree with all of my opinions. But to me that is the fun of the book - stating my opinions strongly and knowing that those opinions would spark debate.

In your opinion what is the finest section in the book? Do you have a favorite or is it like choosing between children?
I like some of the less obvious, off-beat sections, like "Why Don't They Just Shoot Him?" or "Villain Deaths." But having said that, I still think mostly of the first chapter, where I rank and review each film, because really, doesn't every serious Bond fan have a ranking of the films in his head? But to finally put that ranking on paper and then have to explain in a short review why you ranked a film a certain way, which was a great challenge. And then knowing that there would be a Bond fan somewhere who might totally disagree with my choices, well, I just had to have the courage of my convictions and the confidence that I wasn't making a fool out of myself. But I have been watching these films my whole life, so I was pretty certain that my opinions were not too "out there."

What do you think the book can bring to your average Bond fan?
Well, I think it can be a fun exercise. Just to read my opinions and compare them to your own. Where do we agree? Where do we disagree? I have been told by Bond fans that the book was enjoyable just for that -- for sparking debate and for allowing fans to come up with there own lists to compare to mine.

Some readers say that the opinions put forward by the book are quite confined, while others say the opinions are more blunt and truthful. Which would you agree with, from your perspective?
I feel I was pretty blunt and truthful. There were certain opinions that I knew would be controversial but I had no problem stating them. Some examples -- I know that younger Bond fans love GoldenEye and for many it was their introduction to Bond. But I rank it rather low and I knew that that would not endear me to newer fans of the series. I also think that Tomorrow Never Dies is a far better film that seems to get knocked frequently by fans -- I don't get it! And I say so. I know that Licence to Kill is hated by many fans and frequently falls near the bottom of many critics' lists, but I think it is a gem and say so. At the same time, I rank Dalton 4th on my list, which I knew would rankle the feathers of many serious Bond fans who rate him at the top. But as I enjoyed his two films and enjoyed his serious take on the role, I still felt it lacked the panache and style needed for the cinematic Bond.

Does the Bond character still thrill you and what are your plans (if any) for a future Bond title?
Yes, he still thrills me. I am still a kid at heart when it comes to Bond and I like most Bond fans I eagerly await Bond 21 and any snippets of news that I can get on it. And when it comes out I will sit in the theater and hope that its the best Bond film that I will ever see. I am working on another project right now (not Bond related) and would definitely do something else on Bond if I can think of another idea that hasn't been done before. If you have one, let me know!


A word from the interviewer: On behalf of Universal Exports, I would love to thank Id like to thank Michael for participating in this interesting interview and I wish him luck for the future. For more information on The Spy Who Thrilled Us: A Guide to the Best of Cinematic James Bond, visit Bondian.com.

Questions written by Adam Farrington-Williams; edited by Greg Goodman.



BGAFThe Spy Who Thrilled Us...
By Michael DiLeo
160 pages
2002

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