Russell Caldwell from Crosswicks, NJ
Aside from watch TCM, what do you do?
I am currently the recording clerk of my Quaker Meeting, and I was for many years a manager of the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum in Atlanta. I am also the town historian of the quaint village of Crosswicks, NJ, which was settled by Quakers in 1677.
What’s your favorite movie snack?
Mike and Ikes, jellybeans, Starburst -- anything that's chewy and fruity. And since that's a lot of sugar, I usually wash it down with a Fresca or some club soda.
What’s your favorite part of TCM?
I must say I've come to love Noir Alley and Eddie Muller's insights on that important genre. I was rather skeptical at first, to be honest, having cemented Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz high in my pantheon of hosts, but Eddie has turned out to be a charismatic and knowledgeable guide.
What’s your favorite movie genre?
I have two, actually: comedies and suspense, and my two favorite directors of those are Billy Wilder and Alfred Hitchcock. This also includes the Preston Sturges films and the screwball comedies of the 1930s, as well as thrillers like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Day the Earth Stood Still. To be fair, I love many films of all genres, so this was a tough call.
Who’s your favorite actor or actress or filmmaker of all time? And why?
William Powell and Irene Dunne are my favorite actor and actress, and luckily they appeared together in a film, Life With Father. They were both equally adept at comedy and drama and, in my humble opinion, it was a scandal that neither won an Oscar. In my favorite films of both of theirs they are with other partners, namely Myrna Loy and Cary Grant. They are two of only a few actors that have elicited both honest laughter and tears from me, with The Great Ziegfeld and Libeled Lady with Powell and I Remember Mama and The Awful Truth with Dunne.
Who would you be thrilled to meet, and what would you say?
I would love to have met William Powell on a cruise ship in the 1930s and had champagne cocktails with him in the forward lounge. We could talk about fly fishing (Gluckman's Point!) or solving mysteries, but I think I would probably ask him about his experience during the transition to talkies, and about two of the loves of his life, Jean Harlow and Carole Lombard.
What do you collect?
I am not a collector, but I did save an ear of corn that I took from left field of the baseball field used in the film "Field of Dreams." In 1991, my dad was on tour with the New Glenn Miller Band in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and I was studying in Madison, Wisconsin, so I decided to drive over and see him. The day following his performance, we drove over to Dyersburg and, after asking in town, we found the famous baseball field. We were the only souls there, and a man came out of the house and told us that he owned the infield and right field, and another farmer owned left and center fields. My dad and I went onto the field and played catch, just like Kevin Costner's character did with his dad. My dad passed in 2017, but I still have that ear of corn to remind me of that special day.
If you had to pick just one, what would be your favorite movie?
You'd think that since I worked at the Margaret Mitchell House my favorite movie would be Gone With the Wind, and I do love it, but my favorite film is The Third Man. I watched it for the first time as a child on TV and it introduced me to the wonders of classic movies. I later lived in Austria and was able to visit some of the film locations, and I even got to walk down the allee in the Zentralfriedhof where Alida Valli made her iconic last walk at the film's end. Carol Reed skillfully combines elements of humor, noir, suspense and a murder mystery, all wrapped up in Anton Karas' mesmerizing zither score. It really is a Gesamtkunstwerk and epitomizes what filmmaking is all about.
Thank you Russell! For being in our Member Spotlight, we're sending you Into the Dark, TCM's fantastic book on the hidden world of film noir. It's the perfect way to immerse yourself in that world of sin and danger without, y'know, committing an actual crime.
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