Niagara (1953)- Oh! Canada Blogathon

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For the Oh! Canada blogathon (hosted by Speak Easy and Silver Screenings), I decided to write about two “Canadian” related topics. The first is my love for the 1953 color film noir, Niagara and the second will be about my love for Canadian actress Megan Follows (AKA Anne Shirley!, it will be written written within the next few days!!).

But for my first entry, I couldn’t pass up the chance to write about one of my all time favorite film noirs, Niagara (1953) (Yes, you’ve guessed it! It takes place at the famous Canadian landmark! 😉 )starring Joseph Cotten and Marilyn Monroe in her break out role.

For those who may not recall, back in 2015, I wanted to view Niagara so badly, it turned out to be the film that made me get a blu ray player, as the DVD is out of print. I had been wanting to get a Blu-Ray player for some time, and Niagara was the film to push me to do it! It totally paid off too, as Niagara is  lush and just a visually stunning movie- and the beautiful Canadian backdrop is just to die for!

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Niagara for many is considered to be one of the two great “color noirs”, with Leave Her to Heaven (1945) being the other. In fact, this film was one of the last movies ever to use three strip Technicolor, which as we know, was unusual for film noirs. For many, Niagara is not be a hard boiled “traditional” noir with a PI/DI, a flashback, and the black and white shadowy cinematography, but it still lures you in like one of them. It still has a femme fatale, murder, betrayal, ill fated love, and jealousy – however, its all paced and scripted in a manner that doesn’t make you blurt out, “Film Noir!” I personally find it surprising this movie considered a great “film noir”, but for some reason, it works:

Image result for niagara 1953Marilyn Monroe plays the role of Rose Loomis, and her husband, George, is played by Joseph Cotten. At the start of the film, they are vacationing in Niagara Falls and soon they are joined by another couple, Polly and Ray Cutler (Jean Peters and Max Showalter). As with many noirs, Rose and George’s marriage is in trouble- and Rose has a secret lover. Polly then becomes caught up in the mess when the next day while touring the Falls, she sees Rose and her lover, Patrick- kissing.

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Jean Peters

As you can probably infer by now, Rose is planning to murder George and throw his body into the Falls with the song “Kiss” being played on the bells as the secret signal once to the job is done. It all goes wrong, however, when Patrick is the one who turns up dead, and not George. 

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Overall, I think Marilyn is just gorgeous in this film, and it proves her abilities as an actress, as she really isn’t a dumb blonde. She’s alluring and scheming- and yes- her murder plan may have gone wrong- but it takes a cunning individual to craft such a plan in the first place. The supporting roles are also played by a great cast- with Jean Peters being totally under-rated! And of course I can’t forget Mr. Joseph Cotten- as we get to see him in technicolor!!!

 

     

       Mr.  Joseph Cotten- Still handsome- and in COLOR!!! (DVDBEAVER- pic credit)

Overall, Niagara is just one of those great films from the 1950s- It’s dated in just the right places (fashion, in particular!) and like I mentioned earlier, it lures you into watching. I say its one of my favorite Marilyn performances and while it may not be on the “top tens” lists of 50’s films (or film noirs, etc)- its really a hidden gem that more people should watch!

 

 

 

 

 

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The Seven Year Itch- The Second Annual “SEX” Blogathon

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This entry is for Movie Movie Blog Blog’s second annual Sex! (and now that I have your attention) Blogathon. May I say this is a great idea- and that films back then were indeed sexier than junk that is made today (dare I say the “Stoop Scene” from the 1943 (1943!!!!) movie The More The Merrier is the sexiest scene I’ve ever seen on film- the actors are fully clothed, sitting on a front porch, and all action takes place above the neckline- take that- 21st century screenwriters- take that!!)

And now that I have your attention, I want you to time travel with me back to 1955- Yes good ol’ 1955. The middle of the nifty fifties- no internet, no WiFi, no Netflix- nothing like that. But 1955 did have one thing- nay- person- that we today don’t have- Miss Norma Jean Mortenson, aka Miss Marilyn Monroe. And in 1955 Monroe starred in one of her most iconic (and yes- one of her sexiest) films- The Seven Year Itch- directed by Billy Wilder.

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The Seven Year Itch is the film that pushed the boundaries. It’s plot may be simple, but soon creates complications- Richard Sherman sends away his wife (Evelyn Keyes) and child for the summer, but soon faces temptation with his neighbor- The Girl.  Today we might not think the film to be so racy, but- back in the day it was super risque (so much so it was banned in Ireland). To experience the movie like those did back during the initial release, I had to place myself in 1955- and convert my mindset. And trust me- it worked like a charm- all it took was some imagination and a little help from the Hayes office (well sort of!)

For those that own the Blu ray (like myself), maybe you’ll be familiar with the special feature of the Hayes Code pop up meter. It was very interesting and it helped me confirm what I thought the double innuendos to be. Its very funny when the meter pops up and you see the arrow go all the way to a ten (and it happened a lot!). Like the commentators said, the people in the Hayes office must have been very dumb not to recognize the “improper” material that was presented to them.seven yr.JPG

For instance, there’s the montage scene where Richard (Tom Ewell) has passionate kissing scenes with other women (and how he was able to stop affairs from happening) like in the hospital, or on the beach, even at work- but because they were all “made up”- as in taking place in his mind- the scenes got past censors. Yet, the scenes are sexy when you as the viewer view them- a perfect example of getting past the code.

the scene

And let’s talk about the famous scene – (for those who are unfamiliar this is the film that contains the famous Marilyn scene parodied by many) – which earns a 7 on the Hayes innuendo meter. It’s peculiar it does earn a seven- and its not higher because we only ever see Marilyn’s lower legs. Posters and media images may have shown all the way up the leg, but never in the film do we see that.

We never see THIS in the film

Its also funny to mention Ewell was selected not only because he originated the role on Broadway, but also because he’s not “overly” handsome. By him having average Joe looks, and his character being seduced by Marilyn, it was the perfect combination for creating for every man’s ultimate fantasy.

I personally believe The Seven Year Itch will forever remain iconic and sexy. It may seem dated, but isn’t that that half the fun? With Marilyn, Wilder and the ultimate temptation- you can’t go wrong!

Gotta Dance! Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

In honor of the Gotta Dance Blogathon event (awesome idea!) hosted by The Classic Reel Girl – I decided to write about an in- film dance number- Two Little Girls from Little Rock – the opening number to the unforgettable Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t initially interested in watching a Marilyn Monroe picture- I thought she was just a dumb blonde who would be irritating. But after looking into life and learning what she went through, I had a change of heart- I realized Marilyn was so much more than just “Blonde”- she was a young woman who just wanted happiness within the crazy world she lived in. Watching this film made me a fan of hers- I mean she’s Marilyn– how can you not like her?

So what is it about Gentlemen Prefer Blondes that makes it wonderful? Maybe its because the film starts off with an amazing musical number! Two Little Girls from Little Rock is a very catchy and addicting song- as all of the songs from the movie are. It very easily can get stuck in your head and the dance that accompanies the number is visually stunning!

We have Marilyn and the awesome Jane Russell both in striking red show girl outfits  accessorized with large and very feathered head pieces.  The dance is not super complicated- its simple but still intriguing nevertheless. Choreographed by Jack Cole he flawlessly made this number perfect, as neither Jane nor Marilyn were “dancers” in their own right (when compared to others like Ginger Rogers, or Cyd Charisse). Cole is also responsible for working with Marilyn on her most famous dance number, Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend (also from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes).

Whenever I watch the dance sequence it makes me want to get up and do a “show girl” style dance myself- I’ll never be as fabulous as Jane and Marilyn- but one can try can’t they!  Personally I L-O-V-E to dance- but only have a few years of dancing experience- ballet in second grade and two years of high school gym electives that were tailor made for dancing. I would however like to continue on- learn swing dancing and all of the popular dances from the 20s- (Charleston, Foxtrot anyone?) as well as tap dancing- really wanna sharpen those skills!

On an interesting note, in June 2011, at the Profiles in History action Marilyn’s ensemble sold for a whooping $1,476,000!

If you haven’t seen the dance number take a peek!