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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.