Interview w/Director & Screenwriter for ALL THE OLD KNIVES!

Podcast Episode

Interview w/Director & Screenwriter for ALL THE OLD KNIVES!

This episode features the Director of the film, ALL THE OLD KNIVES, Janus Metz, and the Screenwriter and also the author of the novel of the same name, Olen Steinhauer!  

The new espionage movie ALL THE OLD KNIVES, has a release date of April 8, 2022, in the US on Amazon Prime Video.

We interview the Director of the film, ALL THE OLD KNIVES, Janus Metz, and the Screenwriter and also the author of the novel of the same name, Olen Steinhauer!

In this movie, two CIA agents and ex-lovers (Chris Pine and Thandiwe Newton) are brought back together years after a failed rescue attempt – and forced to blur the lines between profession and passion in this deeply riveting tale of global espionage, moral dilemma, and deadly betrayal.  Add Laurence Fishburne and Jonathan Pryce and you have one star-studded cast.

Join us for this fascinating talk!   How’d they get the title?  The cast?

Or watch and listen to this fascinating interview on our Cracking the Code of Spy Movies YouTube channel 

Check out our “ALL THE OLD KNIVES First Reactions – No Spoilers” episode to hear our thoughts on the movie (available April 6th).


In our no-spoiler discussion of the movie All the Old Knives with director Janus Metz and screenwriter Olen Steinhauer, we discuss:

  • The chaotic first 45-seconds of the movie
  • How Olen Steinhauer turned his novel “All the Old Knives” into a screenplay
  • The use of flashbacks
  • The importance of the Director of Photography
  • How COVID impacted filming
  • How they shot airplane interiors
  • The importance of family to the story
  • The cast (Chris Pine, Thandiwe Newton, Laurence Fishbourne, and Jonathan Pryce)
  • And more …

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Billion Dollar Brain – Decoded!

Podcast Episode

Billion Dollar Brain – Decoded!

Join Dan and Tom as they decode the third Harry Palmer movie with Michael Caine, based on the Len Deighton novels!

Harry Palmer, a cold Helsinki winter, virus-filled eggs, outdoor festivals, evil computer programs, a maniac billionaire, a double-cross – make up the story of the third Harry Palmer movie, Billion Dollar Brain!

Join Dan and Tom as they decode the third Harry Palmer movie with Michael Caine, based on the Len Deighton novels!

Lots of connections to other movies and some disagreement between Dan and Tom on this one!  Join the fun!

Do you have a comment?  Email us at or click here to get to our comment page.  Finally, on our website, you can click the red button that says “Send us a voicemail”.

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Some of the topics discussed include:

  • The stellar cast
  • The impact of the character names
  • Is Harry Palmer the anti-James Bond?
  • Potential ties to movies like Mission: Impossible II, Get Shorty, Diamonds Are Forever, Patton and others
  • The value of going to a 1960’s shoe store
  • Dan and Tom’s disagreements about this movie
  • General Midwinter’s rant
  • Computer punch cards
  • and more …

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Part 2: A Talk with QUANTUM OF SOLACE Director of Photography, Roberto Schaefer, ASC, AIC

Podcast Episode

Part 2: A Talk with QUANTUM OF SOLACE Director of Photography, Roberto Schaefer, ASC, AIC

Join Dan and Tom as they spend a couple of hours with Roberto Schaefer, Director of Photography for Quantum of Solace! This is Part 2 of a 2 part podcast with Roberto!

Join Dan and Tom as they spend a couple of hours with Roberto Schaefer, Director of Photography for Quantum of Solace!  Roberto has been the Director of Photography on some great films, including Finding Neverland, Monster’s Ball, Stay and many other great films.

In Part 2, we talk with Roberto about the team that makes a movie, a dive deeper into Quantum of Solace with some reveals(!) and lots more!  This is Part 2 of a 2-part podcast with Roberto!

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  • The interaction between the various crew teams and what must work to make a movie
  • How chase scenes were handled in Quantum of Solace (especially the Palio scene)
  • The impact of Goldfinger in the making of Quantum of Solace
  • Roberto’s long history of working with director Marc Forster
  • What he filmed that he was disappointed to see on the cutting room floor in Quantum of Solace
  • What Roberto is doing today
  • And more …


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Q Planes (1939) – Historical Influences

Podcast Episode

Q Planes (1939) – Historical Influences

Join Dan and Tom as they pivot their analysis on the 1939 spy movie, Q PLANES. This movie was released just before the start of World War II and had some interesting historical ties. Take a listen.

Join Dan and Tom as they Crack of Code of the history that surrounded & impacted directly the making of the 1939 movie, Q Planes (Clouds Over Europe).

Our first podcast on Q Planes called, Q Planes (Clouds Over Europe) is an analysis of the movie, scene by scene.  In this new podcast, a different approach is taken, looking at historical events (the oncoming of World War Two, etc.) that directly affected the making of the film, looking at some very interesting connections!

The real world does find its way into spy movies!

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Some of the items we discuss are:

  • How the British Secret Service was involved with this movie
  • How the movie was made to try to influence the United States from its neutral stance on Germany
  • How a phrase by Lord Horatio Nelson made its way into the movie
  • How the newspaper headlines in the movie are reflective of real 1938 headlines raising alarm of the British people
  • How the characters were created to portray different classes of people
  • How a scene with an American showgirl may have been made to make some not-so-flattering impressions about Americans
  • How this movie influenced the TV show “The Avengers”
  • The many ways this movie influenced the James Bond series of movies
  • Some similarities to The 39 Steps
  • and more …

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The Lost and Overlooked Bonds

Contributed by: Daniel Silvestri and Tom Pizzato of

Posted on

James Bond has been big for decades!  Spies still rule movies, and James Bond still rules spies!  There have been six actors who have played James Bond so far in the EON Production James Bond 007 movies.  Hundreds of articles and polls rank these actors as to who is the best, with rankings from one to sixThere is some consensus that people like Sean Connery the best.  Daniel Craig is ranked highly as well And, there are those who love Pierce Brosnan, and others who adore Roger Moore. Many times, what influences a person’s rankings or favorite Bond is the era in which they grew up. If you grew up with Pierce, then a lot of people like Pierce and so on. As a result, that means that there are two who are the lost and overlooked Bonds. 

We would like to concentrate on these “forgotten” Bonds. Namely, George Lazenby from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and Timothy Dalton from The Living Daylights  and Licence to Kill 

Is George Lazenby – A lost and Overlooked Bond?

George Lazenby wearing a tux - headshotOn Her Majesty’s Secret Service is just one of the best Bond stories Fleming ever wroteAnd while bringing it to film, EON Productions stuck very closely to the Fleming text. George’s only acting experience had been in television commercials.  Still, he landed the role after Sean Connery decided to leave the franchise.

The Criticism

There is a loof criticism swirling about that George Lazenby was a poor Bond, that his acting was terrible, that his characterization of Bond was weak. However, we think that this is misguided.  In our opinion, George is one of the lost and overlooked Bonds who deserves more credit than he gets.  We think George did a wonderful job as Bond.  He was surrounded by an outstanding cast spearheaded by Diana Rigg (Tracy di Vincenzo) and Gabriele Ferzetti (Draco, Tracy’s father)The movie was well done.  It has great cinematography and wonderful locations selected in Portugal and Switzerland 

George Lazenby’s Talent

George Lazenby was a believable, emotional, real-person Bond: much like Fleming wrote Bond. For example, look at the scene  at Draco’s birthday party at the bull ring.  Bond follows Tracy down the stairs and speaks with her just outside the bull ring.  Lazenby’s acting is just spot-on, he’s a believable guy. He’s a guy, not just a spy guy.  

James Bond (George Lazenby) and Tracy (Diana Rigg) in the barn


And when Bond and Tracy are hiding in the barn, and Bond asks Tracy to marry him. We think this is just a perfect scene – well played.  Diana Rigg certainly elevates the emotions and acting here.


George Lazenby as James Bond - see his expression when he looks at Tracy's dead body


In the last scene, he is cradling his dead wife in his arms in the car after she is killed.  George is just outstandingWe believe is a very real Bond.  He’s a very believable spy who is also a human being.  Lazenby gives a very consistent portrayal of Bond throughout this production. 


Our Thoughts On George Lazenby

Lazenby should have continued to do more Bond films, but he received advice from agents or friends that he should move onAnd he didThat is too bad because we think he would have been better and better as Bond, and a very solid contribution to the history of the franchiseGeorge Lazenby, at the time of this writing, is still active.  He participated in the 50th Anniversary of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service celebration held in Portugal and Switzerland in 2019, and is active on Twitter at 

We truly believe that George Lazenby is one of the lost and overlooked Bonds.  That is unfortunate because we really liked his performance in the role.

Is Timothy Dalton – a lost and overlooked Bond?

Timothy Dalton wearing a tux - headshotAfter Roger Moore left the Bond franchise having done seven James Bond films, Timothy Dalton stepped in as the next James Bond, for the 1987 film, The Living DaylightsHis take on the role was to bring back the Fleming-esque elements of Bond – the blunt instrument of the government – the tough, rough assassin who is dedicated to Queen and Country.   The transition from a very light Bond portrayed by Roger Moore, with a more tongue-in-cheek approach, lots of funny quips, more humor than we have seen ion any other Bond – to Timothy Dalton’s Bond was like Evel Knievel leaping across Grand Canyon on a motorcycle – a huge challenge.   

In short, after seven Bond films with Moore, the viewing public might not have been ready for this take on Bond. Dalton played a very serious James Bond – with few quips, few smiles, and a very hard-nosed focus on getting the job done, and in a way that was a very believable approach to how a spy in the real-world night workThe missions were more down-to-earth too: transporting a defecting spy from the Russians to the British in The Living Daylights, and capturing a South American drug lord in Licence to Kill.  This is stuff that really happens in the real world – not dealing with some demented, super-megalomaniacal enemy who wants to rule the world. Although in real life we have some instances of that.    

We like that “normal” approach to the spy world – which is more realistic.  However, we have enjoyed the world domination theme as well in the other films 

With Dalton, you can see several things which stand out in his acting: 

Facial Expressions

For instance, his facial expressions are exactly that – they express a lot to the viewer in just a few short seconds.  This is very difficult to doSome great examples of this are: 

    • In The Living Daylights:

Timothy Dalton looking for revenge after Saunder's death • Saunders gets killed and Bond runs to his side. A balloon blows in with “Smiert Spionom” written on it.  Dalton’s angry face says it all – he will retaliate.  

• Similarly, during the entire scene with Pushkin in the hotel room where Bond is threatening him with his gun.  Dalton has perfect facial expressions and body movement. 

    • In Licence to Kill:

Timothy Dalton's expression when looking at Della after her death 

When Bond finds Della’s body 



And then finds Felix in the body bag – his face just says it all – terrific acting.


 • His facial expression when M is talking to Bond at the Hemingway House, revoking his license to kill is top-notch.

• When Bond tells Sanchez about potential traitors and Sanchez says he was right and got the guy, and Bond says, “Only one?”  Again, lots of potential dialogue delivered in a couple of words and great facial communications which substitutes for more linePerfect.

In the scene where Sanchez dies.  Bond is wounded and bleeding.  Sanchez, after saying “You could have had it all” goes up in flames. Examine Bond’s face – you feel the pain, you feel the tension.   

Body Movement

Similarly, Timothy Dalton’s body movements are spot on.  In other words, he walks, he fights, and he runs just like what we think a normal human being would be like 

    • In Licence to Kill:
      • When Bond is walking with Hawkins through Mallory Square in Key West on the way to the Hemingway House to meet M. Bond which Bond did not know that’s where they were going at the time.  However,  he moves like a normal personNatural, walking, and walking. 
      • And, when he’s on the boat with Sharkey going to Wavecrest’s warehouse and research center – again, great facial expressions, and great, natural body movement. 
      • And, when he gets off the boat at the Barrelhead Bar in Bimini – again, perfect movement, perfect facial expressions, and inside the bar, his face says it allSo powerful.
    • In The Living Daylights, as above, with the Pushkin scene Dalton’s body movement is just what you think it should be. And, as you’re watching, you do not think about it. This is the pointThis entire scene is Dalton at his bestLove it! 

Our Thoughts On Timothy Dalton

These are just a few examplesDalton did a great job as Bond and we wish he would have done more Bond moviesFor a variety of reasons it was not to be.  This was partially due to delays in the next release (6 years).  Some licensing issues and rumors that lower box office numbers had something to do with it.  But, Dalton himself says, they approached him to do GoldenEye. However, they wanted a 5 movie deal.  As a result, Dalton thought that would be the rest of his life and turned them down.   See this article in Esquire where he talks about this very point.   

In our opinion, Timothy is the other lost and overlooked Bonds who deserves more credit than he gets.

Bravo Gentlemen

In short, these overlooked and mostly forgotten Bonds deserve an honored place in Bond movie folklore, performance, and durabilityThey have survived the years, and more people now think that their work should be appreciated as part of the James Bond 007 movie franchise 

Therefore, we salute both George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton as rightful Bonds! 

What do you think?

<em>The 39 Steps</em>

Podcast Episode

The 39 Steps

The 39 Steps, directed by Alfred Hitchcock is considered by many to the first spy movie ever made! If you came to our site as a Bond, Bourne, Hunt, Smiley, or other spy movie fan, you might not have seen this film. Join Dan Silvestri and Tom Pizzato as they examine how The 39 Steps, considered by many to be the first spy movie, has influenced other spy movies that came after it. We'll also look at what happenings in the real world that influenced this spy movie.

The 39 Steps, directed by Alfred Hitchcock is considered by many to the first spy movie ever made!  If you came to our site as a Bond, Bourne, Hunt, Smiley, or other spy movie fan, you might not have seen this film.

Released in 1935, this movie sets the table for future spy movies to come. From helicopter chases and train chases to pursuit through unknown lands, this film is a must for all spy movie fans!

Join Dan Silvestri and Tom Pizzato as they examine how The 39 Steps, considered by many to be the first spy movie, has influenced other spy movies that came after it.  We’ll also look at what happenings in the real world that influenced this spy movie.


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The 39 Steps

Hannay – Robert Donat
Pamala – Madeleine Carrol
Miss Smith – Lucie Mannheim
Professor Jordan – Godfrey Tearle
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Summary on Wikipedia

The 39 Steps, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, released in 1935, is considered by many to be the first spy film. So, if you are a spy movie fan, then we must take a close look at The 39 Steps to see exactly what this film is about, how it may have influenced other spy films to come, and what happenings in the real world influenced this spy film. As in many Hitchcock movies, like North By Northwest, Notorious, The Man Who Knew Too Much – an innocent bystander is thrust into the world of espionage.

A woman agent who has no affiliation with any country is trying to stop England’s secrets of air defense from falling into the hands of some certain brilliant agent of a foreign power who wants these secrets. Not because she loves England, but because they will pay her better. This is what she tells Hannay – that at the theater where they had just come from, there were two men who wanted to kill her. She and Hannay went back to Hannay’s flat. And he looks to the street from his flat window, he sees two men – waiting. She tells Hannay that he is in just as much trouble as her now – and if he ever heard of The 39 Steps. Their chief has a dozen names and can look like a 100 people, but the one thing he cannot disguise is he has the top part of his right-hand little finger missing. She wants a map of Scotland because that is where the man she must visit next is.
This film stars Robert Donat and Madeleine Carrol.

If you are a spy movie fan, you can watch the entire 1935 film on YouTube.

More Details

The film opens in a theater, in London, where a man on stage is about to answer virtually any questions the audience may ask. He is, in a sense, Mr. Know-It-All, called in the film Mr. Memory, who every day commits to memory 50 facts in a variety of categories (science, history, geography, etc.). There is a haunting musical theme that is associated with Mr. Memory that sticks in Hannay’s head.

A man walks in in a trench coat and sits down. Later a woman is shown at the bar. The man in the trench coat, who turns out to be Hannay, asks how far Winnipeg is from Montreal – and Mr. Memory indicates that the gentleman is a Canadian. So, we see he is not a Brit. After a bunch of questions, an official-looking gentleman comes in (police) and there is a scuffle with a guy at the bar. During the commotion, Hannay finds himself face-to-face with a woman. After a while, she asks if she could go home with him. He says, “well, it’s your funeral.” Spoiler: He turns out to be correct.

They leave the music hall and go to his place, 122 (looks like) Portland Place: Portland Mansion. He has a furnished flat as he is from Canada here for only a few months. He asks her name: “Smith.” She looks Eastern European, has an accent – Smith? Ok, now we are a little suspicious of her and who she is.

The Death of the Spy

Hannay sees Smith come into his room in this flat, with a piece of paper, stumbling, and saying, “You’re next!” She falls, revealing a knife sunk halfway into her back. She collapses and dies. Hannay does not know what to do next. The local police think he has killed her – it was in his flat. And he flees, remembering what she said about Scotland.
Not so easy to get out of his flat. The men are still there waiting for him now.

Hannay’s Getaway from his Flat – the Milkman Scene

Because Hannay is now being watched – and he does not know who wants to get him – the police for the murder he did not commit, or the people who killed the spy – he must devise a clever way to get out of his flat. The milkman scene is a classic, and we see other bait and switch scenes in future spy moves too, like in James Bond’s The Living Daylights where the enemy spy kills the milkman, then disguises himself as the milkman so he can get into the safe house where a Russian agent is kept who are defecting to the West. Here, Hannay needs the milkman’s uniform as a disguise to try to escape the two guys waiting to kill him.

The Trains Scene, Flying Scotsman

He heads for the train, the Flying Scotsman. In this clip, we see the death scene, but cuts to the train scene – Hannay is aboard and two are in pursuit of him.
This is the first of many train scenes (chases, fights, key meetings) we will see in spy movies to come! (Just a few to think about: Secret Agent, From Russia With Love, Live and Let Die, The Spy Who Loved Me, Octopussy, Mission: Impossible 1, Casino Royale, Skyfall, and others). Here, for the first time, is the original chase scene on the train – with tense moments, intense drama, and a man, Hannay, trying to escape from the officials who are after him, who think he killed the woman spy in his flat.

Just pay attention to the clanging of the wheels, the lighting on the train, the bridge, the pursuit – all part of the blueprint for future spy movies. Two gentlemen read a newspaper across from him on the train about the murder and how Hannay is wanted by the police. The police are aboard the train after a stop and are looking for him. He enters a compartment and kisses a strange woman, who turns him in – but later becomes an ally after a while. The bridge in the movie is the Forth Bridge in Scotland, which opened in 1890, and it is still around and can be visited. The foot chase on the train creates tension and distress. Hannay, while innocent, is trying to escape. The chase is a foreshadowing of future chase scenes and fight scenes on trains as we will see in Spy Train, From Russia With Love, The Spy Who Loved Me, Octopussy, Mission Impossible 1 and others. His escape to the bridge, Forth Bridge, is electrifying and for the viewer, a relief. The train is stopped on the bridge as the police look for him. This somewhat foreshadows View to a Kill bridge scene in San Francisco for Roger Moore’s Bond. Here, the police re-board the train thinking Hannay got back on, but Hannay did not.

Wandering now around Scotland, he stops and talks to a man, and asks if there are any newcomers around – he says yes an Englishman, a professor, and yes, he is near the town that the spy was to go to. Hannay must stay the night at this farm, meets the man’s wife, who misses Glasgow where she is from. He flatters her. She seems to like him. This scene is important because, as Hannay reads the newspaper he sees that the murder has been traced to Scotland. He knows they are on him. The wife knows that he is the man they are after. In fact, she awakes in the middle of the night, her husband notices, and she tells Hannay the police are coming and he better hurry. The husband thinks they are making love, but he tells the husband the police are after him and pays the man 5 pounds. But when the police come to the door, the wife knows her husband will turn Hannay in. Margaret (she reveals her name) gives him her husband’s “Sunday” coat.

With police still in pursuit, he runs. A small helicopter is looking for him too – ah, remember we will see more helicopter pursuits in spy films, like in From Russia With Love! He runs and is running along a river – the Forth Bridge transverses the estuary (Firth) of the River Forth – so this is probably the River Forth, not far from Alt-Na-Shellach (now we think it is called Achnashellach) – a large estate that he was looking for.

Hannay finds the estate, rings the bell, asks for the Master, and says to ask him if he knows Miss Annabella Smith (the spy). He enters, the police show up, and the maid answering the door denies any strangers are there. Hannay introduces himself as Mr. Hammond and he is from Miss Smith. The people know about the murderer being in Scotland, so know he is Hannay and asks if Annabella was killed and why he is here in Scotland. He says she was coming to see you. That the foreign agent who killed her is headed up by a man who had part of his little finger missing. He reveals that part of his (Professor Jordan ) little finger is missing and that he is about to convey some very vital information out of the country.

He shoots Hannay, and he falls. Turns out the bullet hits the hymnbook that was in the farmer’s “Sunday” coat. Hannay escapes to the sheriff. He turns him into the police who have been after him. The other two men who killed Smith are outside the police station. Hannay escapes through the window. He loses himself in a parade and the woman on the train (Pamela) turns him in again and Hannay tells her to call England and Scotland Yard. She says no. She and Hannay are in a car being taken somewhere. It is a suspicious situation. Pamala and he are now wondering – and Hannay says I bet your Sherriff principal has the top joint of his little finger missing. Pamela overhears something that makes her believe Hannay is telling the truth.

Handcuffed together, Pamela and Hannay escape.

The police are still on his tracks as he stays at an inn with Pamela and they show up to ask the innkeeper about new travelers. But they are supposedly in the good graces of the wife and she sends off the police. Pamala now decides Hannay has been speaking the truth. Eventually, they make it back to England. The haunting Mr. Memory musical theme is still in Hannay’s head as he has been whistling it in various scenes. Is Pamela the first Spy Girl (ala “Bond Girl”)? If so, she is tough and self-sufficient, and a model for future spy women. Think Ursula Andres as Honey Rider in Dr. No.

For spy movie fans, this movie has continuous action – not the kind of special effects action scenes in modern spy films – but continuous action that creates tension onscreen and in the viewer’s mind.

The Theater Finale

Back in London, Pamela goes to Scotland Yard – she had phoned from Scotland (unbeknownst to us). Scotland Yard is not believing her. They want Hannay. She goes to the theater. They follow. Hannay is in the theater too. The tension is police are following her to get to Hannay. Hannay sees someone up in a box, borrows specs and sees a hand with the top knuckle of the little finger missing!

Mr. Memory is now on stage! Hannay figures it out – Mr. Memory has committed all the secret plans to memory and Hannay thinks Professor Jordan will get him out of the country after the show. Hannay is cornered by the police and he shouts out to Mr. Memory, ”What are the 39 Steps?” Mr. Memory starts to speak, “The 39 Steps is an organization of spies collecting information on behalf of the foreign office of . . .” and he is shot by Professor Jordan, who leaps from the box and eventually onto the stage (ala John Wilkes Booth) and is caught. Hannay: “Mr. Memory – what is the secret formula you were taking out of the country?” Mr. Memory: “The first feature of the engine is….renders the engine completely silent.” And he dies. The secret is safe! Hannay is innocent!

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