You can’t see much of Canada in American films like the 1953 movie 'Niagara'. For me, Canada is a place that starts somewhere on the other side of that enormous waterfall.

Magazine - Great films that aren't really about Canada


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You can’t see much of Canada in American films like in the 1953 film 'Niagara' (1953). For me, Canada is a place that starts somewhere on the other side of that enormous waterfall.

Like most people I suppose, I know the USA from watching American films. I think my view of Canada is nearly the same, the only problem is that you can’t see much of Canada in American films. Marilyn Monroe became a star after the 1953 film “Niagara”. In it, she visits the falls on her honeymoon and plans to kill her husband. Like in that film, Canada for me is a place that starts somewhere on the other side of that enormous waterfall.

From Toronto you can drive to Niagara Falls in about 2 hours. It lies between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario on the border between The United States and Canada. There are lots of fun things to do there. If you are interested in the waterfall itself you might like to go on “The journey behind the fall” a tunnel in the rock behind the water. The place is also popular with lovers. Actually the tradition of honeymoon journeys was started as a way to promote Niagara Falls as a tourist destination. The spot also attracts crazy people who want to throw themselves over the edge. These days it’s not bad if you like casinos. The latest one to open is called Fallsview casino, which, they say, is more luxurious and sophisticated than the Casino Niagara.

I have a two-sided DVD which is my main source of information for this article. There’s a film called “Bowling For Columbine” on one side, and on the other “Owning Mahowny”.

Bowling for Columbine is a film about the United States. More specifically about a mysterious something that makes it such a violent society. Canada appears for comparison. In Canada 165 people are killed by guns every year, in the United States 11,127.

Is violence caused by unemployment? Well that’s higher in Canada.

Is it caused by having lots of guns? In Canada there are about 10 million families and about 7 million guns. They are a nation of hunters.

Guns are easy to buy in the States – but the same seems to be true in Canada too.

The film doesn’t exactly solve the mystery, but it seems to have something to do with politics.

Mahowny, the main character in the other film, is Canadian, and the film is based on the real story of the biggest fraud ever committed in Canada. It begins with a very short shot of a huge powerful waterfall, if you watch to the end of the film and still remember those first few seconds you might realise that this is Niagara Falls. Mahowny is being interviewed by a psychotherapist, and the words come up on the screen “Based on real events in Toronto, 1980-82”… but then we go right back to the beginning of the story. Mahowny works in a bank, and seems to be doing well, but we quickly learn that he has serious problems. He can’t stop gambling, and he’s getting further and further into debt.

Instead of trying to save and pay back the money, he starts flying to Atlantic City and gambling his bank’s money in a casino. Of course this doesn’t help. He takes more and more from the bank. It’s a sad and painful process to watch. He is unpleasant to everyone, especially his girlfriend. She waits for him at home and he always disappoints her. He takes her for a weekend in Las Vegas and she thinks they are going to get married – but he spends the whole time in the casino. He doesn’t care about anything except the results of his bets.

On Mahoney’s last trip to the States he flies with the ladies from the casino. One of them says Niagara Falls looks “just fantastic”.

“I’ve never been” he says, “I guess I don’t want to use up all of Canada too soon.”

Of course in the end he goes to prison, but there is some hope for the future, if not exactly a happy ending. He takes his girlfriend to Niagara Falls.





Dear English team ,
Thanks for this great article, it really helped me to improve my knowledge of prepositions . And the information about Canada were so interesting .
I was wondering what's better to learn English , watching movies with or without subtitles ?

Hello Medo Kareem,

We're glad to hear that you enjoyed the article. I'd encourage you to try watching films without subtitles at first. If it's too difficult, then you could turn on the subtitles. The important thing is to have contact with English. Listen carefully to different aspects of the language, e.g. the grammar, the vocabulary, the intonation. If you don't understand or if you get tired, then turn on the subtitles for awhile.

I often tell my students to choose films that they've already seen, but to watch them in English. That way you already know the story and concentrate more on the language. But you can learn a lot from most any film.

Good luck!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

After reading this article twice, i see the context is not matching nearly with the title. It doesn't mention much about Canada and take it in comparison. Just compare a little to American films. It should expand more about enormous waterfalls in Canada and stop mention lots of content or characters of films.

actully i am not sure about information come in this article specially about unemployment but seems to be true about guns statistics ,however ,the stroy in the end of the article does not tell much about Canada as well . canada always known as backyard of america , that can be proved by economic statistics which almost USA import more than 70% of canada exports ,however,i an studying for IELTS and all this range of articles with mp3 recordings help me a lot improve my performance in writing and listening and my mount of vocabulary

I'm not interested at now a days politic and neither fancy talk about, but only regarding the article I point out something. Like most people I suppose I know the USA from watching it's fights, brutal murders and occupying countries. According to the article 11,127 people are killed by gun every year in the USA and it takes the revenge and compensation from the people of the other countries. I lived nearly 7 years in the UK I had a business, in this period of time I never saw a person carries gun even Policemen don't carry gun except I presume some Special Forces though they are not seen constantly on the streets.

Dear TheShah,

Thanks for your comment. I'm glad to read that you don't fancy talking about politics, because we find that discussions about politics normally aren't as friendly as most of the conversations on LearnEnglish. I also agree with you that one of the things I personally like about the UK is that the police don't carry guns.

However, please remember that we have people from many countries using LearnEnglish, including Americans and it's important not to write in a way that is likely to cause arguments or make people feel attacked. It's fine to say that you don't understand something about another country or don't agree with the government's policies, but we want people from all countries to feel like LearnEnglish is a welcoming place for them to visit.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Adam

Thanks for your reply. As you mentioned discussions about politic are not as friendly as other social discussions, I'm absolutely agree with you. Anyways, initially I apologise everyone in LearnEnglish crew and I consent you to remove my comment because I don't want to be offinsive to anyone and neither against the policy of the page, I only wrote that to improve my English writing, since I started reading your articles after every article I choose one or two sentances which are being new to me and then I write something about it, if you had discovered I did the same action in my pervious comment too "like most people I suppose I know the USA from watching American films".

Hello The Shah,

No worries! We're glad to have you as a member and look forward to your contributions!

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

for English Team - Sir, is there audio files of whole Grammar, if not please do available with transcript (PDF) like above Magazine

Hello kumarrahul444,
On this page, you will find a pdf where it says Print and do activity on paper in the Downloads box, just under the Exercises.
Please realize that we are a very small team working on an extensive (and free) website with millions of users. We would certainly like to have pdfs on all of our pages, but this is not always possible given time constraints.
Best regards,
The LearnEnglish Team