Robert "Mike" Berry from Williamsburg, VA
Aside from watch TCM, what do you do?
I’m a retired federal employee, so I do have time to watch TCM. However, I also do a lot of volunteer work and one thing that I did recently is take my classic movie DVD collection to a local nursing home where my mother was living and show the classic musicals to her and the other folks there. They (the old folks) fall in love with classic musicals like Singin’ In the Rain, South Pacific, and My Fair Lady all over again. I’d like to think I brought a ray of sunshine into their lives by showing these outstanding movies.
What’s your favorite movie snack?
I stick with the tried and true buttered popcorn in moderate amounts. I should note that I’ve attended the TCM Classic Film Festival for the last several years. It’s very hard to find time to eat between movies during the festival and I’ve found that, with regard to popcorn, it is possible to get “too much of a good thing!”
What’s your favorite part of TCM?
Being introduced to foreign gems that I might otherwise never have been exposed to. I include such films as Jules Dassin’s Rififi and Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief, and neo-realist fare such as Bitter Rice (Riso Amaro) and Roberto Rossellini’s Rome, Open City among them. Also films by Akira Kurosawa. There just isn’t any place on cable other than TCM where you can find these movies. For me, TCM has opened up a whole new world. I’ve also appreciated TCM’s “Essentials” series, and explanations as to why these films truly are essential.
What’s your favorite movie genre?
I’ve become a noir-ista (is that really a word ?) since I started watching TCM back in the late 1990’s. Occasionally seeing these “crime films” on TV in the 1960's and 70's was one thing: they were shown without context and you might or might not have known anything about the role of German expressionist directors such as Fritz Lang, noir’s use of chiaroscuro lighting (never heard the term before I started watching TCM), and the inspiration provided by American hard-boiled fiction by authors like Raymond Chandler and James M. Cain; but Robert Osborne’s and Ben Mankiewicz’s introductions, and more recently with Eddie Muller and TCM’s Noir Alley, are quite another. Eddie’s in-depth profiles of noir directors, subjects, and major stars really familiarize you with the genre and helps you appreciate it on an artistic level. I also benefited greatly from the TCM-Ball State University online course on film noir, as I have from other online courses the network has offered.
Who’s your favorite actor or actress or filmmaker of all time? And why?
I would have to say my favorite filmmaker is Alfred Hitchcock. While he is not, strictly speaking, a noir filmmaker, I grew up watching his work in films such as Vertigo, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and North by Northwest. Later, thanks to TCM, I got to know some of his earlier work such as The Lodger, Stage Fright, and The Lady Vanishes, among many others. I love his suspense thrillers and the way he feeds the audience information so that they know more about what’s about to happen than the characters in the film. Many have said (I think even Martin Scorsese) that if you want to learn how to make films, you don’t need film school: just watch Alfred Hitchcock’s movies. I couldn’t agree more.
Who would you be thrilled to meet, and what would you say?
If I could have met one star from classic Hollywood, I would have been thrilled to meet Jimmy Stewart. I’m almost afraid to admit this, but I also do classic-era star impersonations, one of which is Stewart (I think a lot of impersonators, such as Rich Little, have done him). I would have loved to have done the impersonation and gotten his reaction to it. I’d also like to ask him about his work with Alfred Hitchcock (he did four films) and his career in the Air Force.
What do you collect?
I’m an avid collector of movie soundtrack CD’s. I have close to 800 CDs, some of which I have purchased from the TCM Shop. I continue to add to my collection as often as possible. I took the TCM cruise in 2013 and they had a game on board emceed by Alex Trebek called “What’s the Score?” -- a movie music trivia contest. My team won the contest, so it would appear that all that movie music collecting eventually paid off !
If you had to pick just one, what would be your favorite movie?
A very tough question. I really like the Civil War-era film starring Jimmy Stewart: Shenandoah (1965). The movie is set in my home state and has an all-star cast, including Rosemary Forsythe, Doug McClure, Katherine Ross, Patrick Wayne, George Kennedy, James Best and Paul Fix. To me, it is a timeless classic about the meaning of loyalty, family, and yes, marriage! Check out Stewart’s advice to Doug McClure about what makes for a happy marriage -- you may be surprised.
Thank you Mike! For being in our Member Spotlight, we're sending you a selection of CDs from the TCM Soundtrack collection. Hopefully you don't have them yet!
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