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FILM NOIR IN COLOR? "NIAGARA" 1953


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I love Niagara too. It's funny, in this age of being treated like a convicted felon at airports, that this couple just breezes up to the Canadian border and the guard there accepts their explanations at face value and off they go. 

Showalter's character - what an insufferable blowhard in training he is. At first he is all for leaving Niagara because his wife saw something that just couldn't be. Not because he is so concerned for her mental health as he is annoyed at her and the situation. But once he hears the company VP is in town and wanted to have dinner with him, hold everything. He just cans his exit strategy and any thought of his wife's well being so he can spend some time slobbering all over the boss., who is also a blowhard. 

And then there is Joseph Cotten's character. I can see why living with him would become a tremendous burden with him brooding all day and night. And then (SPOILER WARNING) he tells Jean Peters' character that he just wants to get away and disappear and find a job somewhere since everyone thinks he is dead. But he doesn't DO that. He hangs around,  actually commits a horrible crime, and continues to menace Jean Peters.  He just doesn't carry things through like he says would. But if he did I guess there would be no movie. 

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14 hours ago, LsDoorMat said:

Not because he is so concerned for her mental health as he is annoyed at her and the situation. (snipped) He just cans his exit strategy and any thought of his wife's well being so he can spend some time slobbering all over the boss. 

And then there is Joseph Cotten's character. I can see why living with him would become a tremendous burden with him brooding all day and night. (snipped) He hangs around,  actually commits a horrible crime, and continues to menace Jean Peters. 

Agreed, the men in this movie are clods....all of that makes you root for MM. 

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NIAGARA / Niagara USA 1952 / Henry Hathaway MARILYN MONROE (Rose Loomis),  Stock Photo, Picture And Rights Managed Image. Pic. UAI-00652930 |  agefotostock

"I always loved you, Rose."

I'm quite fond of Joseph Cotten but I don't think his obsessively jealous murderous husband in Niagara is one of his more successful performances. I wish the film might have had a few more oddly effective little moments such as that pictured above. His character is gloomy and a pain in the **** for anyone to be near.

This portrayal, I'm afraid, and it probably has more to do with the script than it does the actor, is a far cry from some of the wonderful performances he delivered during the '40s, with my two favourites being his smooth charming psychopathic Uncle Charlie in Shadow of a Doubt and, in complete contrast, the well meaning but bumbling Holly Martins in the marvelous The Third Man.

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I wonder if this is one of those movies where you pick at all the individual, separate pieces and then stand agog at the simple fact that it all just works.  For most folks around here Max Showalter should have been the one to try his hand at going over the falls in a boat.  Joseph Cotten's character is hard to pin down -- despite the fact that he's supposed to be unbalanced.  The Ketterings are a rather clownish couple.  Inspector Starkey has -- at times -- a peculiar way of trying to go about tracking down a murderer.  And Russell Collins can't figure out how to get into a locked cabin while someone is inside screaming.

Oh, well; but don't we all just really like this movie anyway?  Color and scenery hold it all together for me, at least,  while Jean Peters and Marilyn Monroe do stand out.   

Going out on a limb here, but I'm not convinced this really falls into the noir category.  It has the atmosphere, surely; but the thing that defines noir for me  is that it requires a person who shows up at the wrong place and wrong time and gets sucked into a whirlpool they can't escape.  This certainly happens to Jean Peters, but unlike most real noirs, she resists and outright refuses to go along with Joseph Cotten and his mad plans.  This seems a bit more like Hitchcock to me -- such as "The Man who Knew Too Much," or "North by Northwest."  

At any rate, this has been a fun topic for a technicolor joy ride into the world of noir.  Thanks.

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21 hours ago, uncle charlie said:

I'm a native of Niagara Falls, NY and have lived here most of my life. What strikes me most about "Niagara" is that most of the actual locations used in the film look the same almost 70 years later. 

I've been there three times.  Once in '65 with my parents, then in '83 with the wife and kids,  and last in the '90's with my 2nd and some of her family.  

Was disappointed first time to learn that motel was a fiction.  But really dug that arcade located under the Rainbow bridge which was gone by my second trip.  But that trip was where my kids couldn't get enough of that huge water slide just outside the main tourist trap lane.  But by the third trip, THAT was gone, with a young lady telling me it burned down!  :blink:

And in each visit, the bell tower was still there but not operating.   And last time I didn't find time to find out if the school of horticulture was still going. 

Sepiatone

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On 11/19/2021 at 11:37 AM, filmnoirguy said:

Max Showalter was his real name.  When he was under contract to 20th Century Fox in the 1950s, Fox head Darryl Zanuck renamed him Casey Adams which, I understand, Showalter hated.  Actually, I like him as Ray Cutler in Niagara.  I think he plays off Jean Peters' Polly very well.   Maybe it was his character who was smiley and annoying rather than the actor?  He also has a small but good part in With a Song in My Heart with Susan Hayward as Jane Froman.

On Broadway in Hello, Dolly!, he was excellent as Horace Vandergelder to several of the actresses who played Dolly.  When I was living in NYC,  I saw him starring with Carol Channing, Ginger Rogers and Betty Grable in Hello, Dolly.   He also composed for musicals, including the Broadway tuner, Harrigan 'n Hart, in 1985. 

I always find him annoying in any film I find him in! Plays the same type of characters.

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2 hours ago, Hibi said:

I always find him annoying in any film I find him in! Plays the same type of characters.

I once had a dictionary in which if you looked up the word "doofus"......

(...yeah, you guessed it...Max -Casey Adams- Showalter's picture was right below it)

;)

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7 minutes ago, TomJH said:

The charm of Max Showalter captured in one scene

Niagara (1953) starring Marilyn Monroe, Joseph Cotten, Jean Peters, Max  Showalter, Denis O'Dea directed by Henry Hathaway Movie Review

"Somebody get out the fire hose! Yeee-yuck-yuck-yuck-yuck!"

"Oh, Max, you're so funny."

"Don't I know it. Yeee-yuck-yuck-yuck-yuck!"

Yeah yeah, I know they dressed her down in order for her to contrast even more against MM overt sexiness, but I've always found it hard to believe that a doofus like Max there could get as hot a babe as Jean Peters there to marry him in this flick.

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10 hours ago, brianNH said:

I'm not convinced this really falls into the noir category.

You don't have to be Noir is partially subjective.  For example Noir, for me is any pan generic dark story told in a stylistic way that has enough of those elements to tip it noir for me.

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1 hour ago, Dargo said:

I've always found it hard to believe that a doofus like Max there could get as hot a babe as Jean Peters there to marry him in this flick.

Was this billionaire recluse truly mad? - BBC Culture

"You and me both."

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On 11/21/2021 at 3:57 PM, LsDoorMat said:

I love Niagara too.

Quote

It's funny, in this age of being treated like a convicted felon at airports, that this couple just breezes up to the Canadian border and the guard there accepts their explanations at face value and off they go. 

Quote

 

Showalter's character - what an insufferable blowhard in training he is. At first he is all for leaving Niagara because his wife saw something that just couldn't be. Not because he is so concerned for her mental health as he is annoyed at her and the situation. But once he hears the company VP is in town and wanted to have dinner with him, hold everything. He just cans his exit strategy and any thought of his wife's well being so he can spend some time slobbering all over the boss., who is also a blowhard. 

And then there is Joseph Cotten's character. I can see why living with him would become a tremendous burden with him brooding all day and night. And then (SPOILER WARNING) he tells Jean Peters' character that he just wants to get away and disappear and find a job somewhere since everyone thinks he is dead. But he doesn't DO that. He hangs around,  actually commits a horrible crime, and continues to menace Jean Peters.  He just doesn't carry things through like he says would. But if he did I guess there would be no movie. 

Travel to and from the Canadian border used to be like that.  My family took us to Niagara Falls in the 70s, and we stayed in Toronto, the next year we went to Montreal.  No big deal, just drive through customs and declare the souvenir tchatkes we bought.  My parents were second generation French Canadian, and our family tree was a story of people crossing the border for "seasonal" factory labor in the winter months and then returning with their earnings to the farms in the spring for several decades (similar to what farm workers do at the southern border, except seasonally reversed).    My husband and I went to Montreal a few years back, with the required passports, of course, and lied to customs on the way home about the Fairmont bagels and real Sudafed/Advil combo (which is illegal in the states because you can make meth with it -- but it really did cure my bout with the flu!) that we took across the border.    I'd love to go back -- not to the Falls, but to Quebec and Montreal for some yule poutine and tourtiere.

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Thanks, CigarJoe, for your thoughts on the indefinability of a noir genre.  I agree with you that it is one of those subjective things that can only be handled on a case by case basis.  This film has the photography; this film has the black and white contrast; this film has the camera angles; this film has the locations; this film has the noir actors, etc.  

What nails it for me is when there is a person -- upright citizen or petty criminal trying to go straight for example -- who gets caught up in a situation over which he has no control.  And the consequence of refusing to go along with the nefarious plans is death, prison, or something equally as dire.  As the John Huston character tells Jake Gittes in "Chinatown," (I'll have to paraphrase) Most people never have to face the fact that at certain times under certain conditions, they are capable of doing anything.  

When I feel that sense about a character, then I know I've reached the Land of Noir.  But there are plenty of bus stops along the way before I get to the end of the line.  

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My favorite Max Showalter moment is in 16 CANDLES, when Sam's family, on their way to her sister's wedding, get waylaid by the young Japanese exchange student they find sprawled out on the lawn in an obvious state of intoxication:

"Heck, he's three sheets to the w-i-i (chuckle, chuckle, chuckle)-i-i-n-d!"

The way Max incorporates his signature yuks between that one word is sheer genius, lol.

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On 11/21/2021 at 3:13 PM, Katie_G said:

After seeing Don Murray in Bus Stop I may have judged Showalter too harshly.

lol, I love Don in BUS STOP.    That character is supposed to be obnoxious, and Murray really brings him to life!

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7 hours ago, brianNH said:

Thanks, CigarJoe, for your thoughts on the indefinability of a noir genre.  I agree with you that it is one of those subjective things that can only be handled on a case by case basis.  This film has the photography; this film has the black and white contrast; this film has the camera angles; this film has the locations; this film has the noir actors, etc.  

What nails it for me is when there is a person -- upright citizen or petty criminal trying to go straight for example -- who gets caught up in a situation over which he has no control.  And the consequence of refusing to go along with the nefarious plans is death, prison, or something equally as dire.  As the John Huston character tells Jake Gittes in "Chinatown," (I'll have to paraphrase) Most people never have to face the fact that at certain times under certain conditions, they are capable of doing anything.  

When I feel that sense about a character, then I know I've reached the Land of Noir.  But there are plenty of bus stops along the way before I get to the end of the line.  

On the extreme side some people will not even consider a film a Noir if it doesn't have a detective or a femme fatale. 

Of the original mid 1930s French Noir  none of the films are about private detectives, none of them are police procedurals or stories where the police – or any member of governmental society – are seen as heroic. The films were stories about the working class and societies losers. 

"American" Film Noir's origins started in Paris, with the publication of two articles. In August 1946, L'Écran français published Nino Frank’s article A New Kind of Police Drama: the Criminal Adventure Frank concentrated on discussing  ‘Double Indemnity,’ ‘Laura,’ ‘The Maltese Falcon’ and ‘Murder My Sweet.’” In November of 1946.Jean-Pierre Chartier – the other French critic who used the term “film noir” – wrote Americans Also Make Noir Films for La Révue du Cinéma In that article he discusses three films: “Murder My Sweet,” “Double Indemnity” and “The Lost Weekend.”  

Its The Lost Weekend that unshackles  American Noir from being just Crime genre films (though the majority were because the MPPC would not allow them to explore more controversial subject matter).

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19 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

Was disappointed first time to learn that motel was a fiction.  

And in each visit, the bell tower was still there but not operating. 

The stone building (office?) was really there, just the individual "cabins" were built & demolished. I'm sure they were incomplete to accommodate film equipment.

The carillon is an instrument played by a person and there aren't many who know how play it. There are concert schedules for most carillons in Canada, US not so much. The Carillon on Parliamentary Hill in Ottawa recently played the Jeopardy theme song in memory of Alex Trek.

I've been lucky enough to be a guest in the room while Canada's National Carillon was being played. Thrilling!

https://player.vimeo.com/video/616093550

A young guy playing Mayo Clinic's instrument for contrast:

 

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