Thursday, September 16, 2010

More Niagara Falls Movies

In keeping with our review of “Niagara” (1953) on Monday, let’s continue our visit at Niagara Falls with some other old movies.

That magnificent water works we share with our pals up the road in Canada has long been a tourist attraction, and most film depictions of Niagara Falls show characters on vacation, as in “Niagara”, or on honeymoons. By the way, Americans visiting the falls should most definitely go over to experience the view, and hospitality, on the Canadian side. You need your passport these days, but any inconvenience is worth the effort.

Any film about Niagara Falls is likely going to be filmed on location, since it is a bit unwieldy to fake on the back lot or slap in the background with rear screen projection. However, that’s not to say doubles can’t be used with a second unit film crew.

This shot from “Callaway Went Thataway” (1951 - see this previous post), shows Howard Keel and Dorothy McGuire on a cross-country publicity tour. This actor and actress were probably stand-ins.  It could be rear-screen, but in that case I don't think they'd be shooting them from the back.

Harry Houdini, however, had no problem showing up in person, and naturally, performing his own stunts, in “The Man From Beyond” (1922). Mr. Houdini co-wrote the scenario and also produced this silent film, about a man revived from a one-hundred year sleep. Supposedly, the dangerous action you see in this clip below was done without camera tricks.

(Don't forget to scroll to the bottom of the page to pause the music so you can hear the following video clips.)

Here in “The Crowd” (1928 - see this previous post), the honeymooners James Murray and Eleanor Boardman are actually shot at the Falls, climbing a pretty steep hill to the side of it.

Rainbow Bridge is behind them in this view.

Here below is another movie, this time a 43-minute B-movie (sorry about the commercials) made in 1941 by Hal Roach, “Niagara Falls”. A couple of couples endure comic hijinks at the “Falls View Hotel”, a much swankier spot than the efficiency cabins pictured in “Niagara.” It stars Marjorie Woodworth, Tom Brown, Zasu Pitts, and Slim Summerville, who is featured at the beginning and the end as intending to end his life by jumping into the falls in his jammies. We shouldn’t be too worried about him, he hasn’t been successful at any other endeavor in this movie. A minor role of another honeymooner is played by Rand Brooks, who you may remember as Charles Hamilton in “Gone with the Wind” (1939). What two years can do to your career.

Then of course we have popular references to the Falls, most notably in “42nd Street” (1933), where we have the musical skit “Shuffle Off to Buffalo”. As we are told, “To Niagara in a sleeper, there’s no honeymoon that’s cheaper.”
Then there is the ever-popular, “Niagara Falls routine”, better known to some as “Slowly I Turn.” Here are two variations on this old vaudeville bit. First, with The Three Stooges from “Gents Without Cents” (1944).

Next up to bat, we have the Abbott & Costello version from their 1950s TV show:

You may remember Lucille Ball having a crack on this theme, too, in an episode of “I Love Lucy”, though the trigger word here is not “Niagara Falls”, but Martha. Niagara Falls is the blast of seltzer she gets in the pus. You can watch in on YouTube here.

For more on Niagara Falls, have a look at this blog.

THIS JUST IN!!!!!.......
Doaf!  Our roving reporter Moira Finnie (catch her here at Skeins of Thought), just reminded me about "Remember the Night" (1940) with Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck.  Am kicking myself as we speak.  Moria supplies us with these two great shots from the film:

Thanks for the help, Moira.

1 comment:

Classic Cinema Online said...

Just wanted to let you know how much I'm enjoying your holiday type music in the background as I read your blog today. Festive!

Love your blog, btw!

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