Sunday, July 11, 2010

Slowly I Turned...

I had a good time yesterday, watching Niagara from 1953 with Marilyn Monroe.  I think Niagara and Bus Stop (1956) are my favorite Monroe flicks.  Of course, Some Like it Hot (1959) is great, but these two films allow her to act.

Niagara has an almost Hitchcockian (Is that a word?) feel to it.  Pretty good suspense and an ending that makes you think Polly Cutler (played by Jean Peters) may not make it.  The helicopter from the Korean War era was neat!  I will try not to give away too much, in the off chance that a reader may not have seen the film.

1950's special effects aren't the greatest, but the lighting, the framing of the shots, and the way background shots of the falls and the surrounding area are incorporated make up for it.  Marilyn herself could suspend reality.  Just watch her walking away from the camera!  And after she gets out of the shower, her lipstick is perfect!

Now, the important stuff.  A movie this good could not have been made without a great supporting cast.  Let's start with Minerva Urecal.  She played the boarding house landlady who gets upset by all the phone calls looking for a bus station.  Ms. Urecal has 266 acting roles to her credit on IMDb.  She was born in 1894, started acting in films in 1933, and her last gig was on "Petticoat Junction" in 1966, the year she died.

She was in three W. C. Fields movies, had a small part in 1939's Destry Rides Again, worked with James Stewart again in Harvey and The Jackpot in 1950, and again in Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation in 1962.  She made a lot of mysteries and westerns in the 30's, 40's and early 50's, until she started working on TV.

1957 to 1960 seemed to be her best TV years where she shows up as Jim Bowie's mother, stars as the title character in "Tugboat Annie", and has a regular spot on "Peter Gunn."  I think Turner Classic Movies show spotlight Minerva Urecal!

Other bit parts of note; we see taxi drivers played by Harry Carey, Jr. and Arch Johnson.  Carey started working in 1946 and is still active.  Johnson's career has 132 credits from 1953 (Niagara was his first film) to 1990.  And don't forget the boatman played by Will Wright, and Don Wilson as Mr. Kettering in his last movie role.

If you haven't seen Niagara, or if it has been a while, take a look at it soon.  A great movie.  (And I apologize for the Three Stooges title!!!)

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