Niagara would mark the first film I have seen that features the legendary Marilyn Monroe. I started with Niagara due to it being the earliest film found in my recently purchased Marilyn Monroe box set. I came into this with no expectations as I knew very little of the film beforehand and it is rarely ever found in the best-of Monroe performances lists.
Niagara's core problem is in its focus on George and Rose Loomis, as though they are essential to the film's thrills, they certainly lack the complexity and depth that would make me the audience cares for their personal issues. The film's writers seemed to be more concerned in writing fascinating set pieces rather than fine tuning the internal tension and history of its two leads. If the film didn't spend so much time in its first act, exploring the characters and setting up the film's mysterious atmosphere then this wouldn't have been a major issue and would have allowed the film to elevate its pacing. Thankfully, the film's supporting roles were handled with more effort and coming off more interesting than the film's two leads. I would have been satisfied if the film instead revolved around them and view the primary couple in their point of view.
When the film's plot started to roll, it started to change its atmosphere and play out like a typical Hitchcock film. I am not sure whether or not director, Henry Hathaway, was attempting to pay homage or compete with the director, but nevertheless the thrills he produced were effective enough to rival some of the Master of Suspense's best scenes. If one doesn't feel even the slightest sensation during the film's climax, then someone has seen too many thriller/action films. It is just a shame that the film couldn't back these scenes up with interesting characters and a sense of purpose or connection to the film's setting.
Marilyn Monroe's performance in Niagara is far from being great as many of the film's dialogue exchanges, she came across as campy but fortunately her performance was tolerable enough that the film suffered at a minor level. I was disappointed with Joseph Cotten's performance as I have already seen a couple of his key films and he provided the audience in this film with an indolent presentation. Jean Peters was the film's acting highlight as there is this quality in her performance that allows me to show care for her character's personal issues.
Niagara is an average thriller that lacks in characterisation and slightly below average performances from its actors. The film makes up for it though with thrilling set pieces that had me shaking for a couple of moments.
As with all of Monroe's films, "Niagara" features one of Lionel Newman's many wonderful scores.
Having grown up near the Falls, it was both interesting and enjoyable to see them featured. And, as we all know who've been there, the Canadian side, where this movie was filmed, is far more beautiful. Given today's security problems, I loved the scene where Monroe intended to walk across to the American side to avoid being questioned while in a car.
I've seen candid photos of Marilyn Monroe taken around the time of filming, and she was surely at the peak of her beauty and sensuality. Though I've always felt her very careful enunciation detracted from her dramatic acting, she's very good as the cheating wife. It's funny to read occasionally that the physical standard of beauty is thinner today - her figure, like the rest of her, is fabulous, shown off in a variety of clothing by Dorothy Jeakins, who was a prominent costumer on Broadway and in film.
There's really not much to the story of "Niagara." It's a standard tale of love, betrayal, and murder set against a magnificent backdrop and given spark by spirited performances. Well worth seeing.
It can only raise a question: Why not cast her in other femme fatale parts? She was simply perfect in it.
This movie is the proof that studios made a big mistake in not casting Marilyn more often as a femme fatale. When you see all the sexiness she carries throughout the movie you understand the obsession of the other characters surrounding her.
It's a very good vehicle and memorable not only for Marilyn but for its other stars who did a pretty good job.
A young couple on their honeymoon makes the trip to a hotel overlooking Niagara Falls. Shortly upon arriving they encounter a strange couple. The wife is beautiful, loose in her ways, and appears to want to leave her husband. Her husband is jealous of his wife's loose ways and stalks her every chance he gets. When murder appears to be part of the strange couple's recipe for happiness, the young couple find themselves caught in the middle.
"When we have a fight and make up I never want to leave your side."
Henry Hathaway, director of True Grit, How the West was Won, The Sons of Katie Elder, Shot out, Circus World, and From Hell to Texas, delivers Niagara. The storyline for this picture is very good and impressively intricate (it reminded me of a Hitchcock film with its thriller and murderous feel). The acting is amazing and the cast includes Marilyn Monroe, Joseph Cotton, Jean Peters, and Max Showalter.
"She sure got herself an arm full of groceries."
Niagara was a movie I came across while flicking through Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and loved the premise. Marilyn Monroe was awesome in this role and the entire cast played perfectly off her charisma and unpredictable nature. I loved every second of this film and strongly recommend seeing this gem.
"She's a pretty girl. Why hide it?"