Marilyn Brings ‘Niagara’ to the Hague

Niagara is showing at the Filmhuis Den Haag on Saturday, April 8th, and on selected dates through to May 7th, as part of a season celebrating classic movie soundtracks, accompanying an exhibition, ‘The Sound of Cinema‘. The 1953 film noir’s score was composed by Sol Kaplan, and conducted by Lionel Newman. (You can listen to the Niagara soundtrack here, while Marilyn’s own version of the theme song, ‘Kiss,’ was released separately.)

“Sol Kaplan was a successful concert pianist before composing his first film score in 1941. In all, he wrote more than 30 film scores, including for Titanic and Niagara (1953), The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1965) and for the TV series Star Trek (1966). His film career was interrupted in the 1950s when he was put on the Hollywood Blacklist after refusing to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

For Niagara he wrote a sultry soundtrack that emphasizes the adulterous character and sexy appearance of Rose (Monroe). The first shot of Monroe in the film is when she is in bed. The music we hear can best be described as ‘film-noir-in-color’: lots of saxophones and strings with the occasional sound of a triangle. Then we hear the sound of the carillon in the city that will play an important role in the climax of the film. When we first see Monroe leave her cottage in a sexy, form-fitting skirt, we hear excited violin sounds with a sexy clarinet and saxophone accentuating and emphasizing her swaying hips.

Rose’s adulterous relationship is centered around the song ‘Kiss’, written for the film by Lionel Newman with lyrics by Haven Gillespie. At the beginning of the film we see a close-up of Rose who listens in ecstasy to a freshly played record of ‘Kiss’ [as performed by the Starlighters] and seductively hums along with the words. This leads to a fit of jealousy in George, who knows that the song represents her lover. Rose continues to annoy George by humming the melody whenever possible, and she uses it as a musical code to communicate with her lover. In addition, Sol Kaplan’s orchestral score features material borrowed from the song throughout the film, including in scenes where Rose is not on screen.”