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?"
I don't know when this was relative to her marriage to Joe DiMaggio, and I don't care enough to bother looking it up. However, there is a certain amount of parallel between his fears of her and her character in this movie. She was beautiful. She was considered the very definition of sex appeal at the time. He was afraid that she would cheat on him. He didn't like everyone staring at her, and [i]everyone[/i] stared at her. I mean, she doesn't even really do anything for me, and I can't help looking at her. In this movie, however, she wasn't the devoted wife who also happened to be a sex symbol. In this movie, she really was cheating on her husband, she really was betraying him. Of course, she was also a deeply unpleasant person in the movie, not just the sad and hurt thing who had been born Norma Jean. We don't know a lot of her background, but this is a woman who turned her evil outward, not inward as the actress did.
Ray (Max Showalter) and Polly (Jean Peters) Cutler have been married for three years and never got a honeymoon. Finally, they are on their way up to Niagara Falls to a little group of honeymoon cabins, where they will be vacationing--and meeting with J. C. Kettering (Don Wilson), who runs the cereal company for which Ray works. Unfortunately, the couple who were in the cabin the Cutlers reserved are still in it. He is George Loomis (Joseph Cotten), and she is his wife, Rose (Marilyn Monroe). He is substantially older than she, and he knows that there is a reason she keeps obsessing over the same song, "Kiss." It doesn't mean anything to him, but it obviously means something to her. Ray and Polly are visiting one of the touristy places, and Polly sees Rose Loomis kissing a man (Richard Allan). And then, George Loomis turns up missing. A body is found, and Rose is taken to identify it. She collapses in a dead faint.
Focus was taken away from Polly Cutler when Marilyn Monroe was cast. In a way, she's still the main character; after all, it is she who ends up on that boat that distracted me so in that one shot of special effects. She is the one who sees Rose with Patrick. She takes Rose to identify the body; she goes to be with Rose in the hospital. Rose slinks across the screen, and we see Rose first. However, this is Polly's movie to give away. Oh, she isn't really necessary to the story. We could watch the whole story through the eyes of the Loomises, or even Inspector Starkey (Denis O'Dea). Heck, we could watch it through the eyes of Mr. Qua (Russell Collins), the owner of the cabins, for all it really matters. However, we see it through Polly, who is also just about the only likeable character in the whole piece. Ray is a twit. George is ill, to be sure, but underneath that, he's selfish. Though nowhere near as selfish as Rose and Patrick. The inspector is not well enough defined to be likeable or unlikeable. Polly is, and she is enough.
Every once in a while, I encounter movies which are clearly intended to cash in on a location or other gimmick. Sometimes, they make that location or gimmick essential; the whole of [i]North by Northwest[/i] is based on Hitchcock's mental image of a man hanging off the faces of Mount Rushmore, for example. On the other hand, there is [i]Counsellor at Law[/i], a movie made two years after the construction of the Empire State Building and pointedly set there despite the fact that it literally makes no difference whatsoever to the plot. This movie lies somewhere between the two. That bell tower becomes important to the plot, for one, and the falls are a constant weight on the story and vital to the ending. However, the ending could be rewritten to involve a different threat without damaging the story too much, and it's hardly as though there are no other bell towers in the world. I do, however, believe that the honeymoon aspect of the location is important--after all, the story of George and Rose Loomis is about the betrayal of love.
It would help, I think, if we ever knew why they'd gotten married in the first place. Given Marilyn, and especially given this Marilyn, I can think of several reasons. He might have money. More appealing is the idea that she needed him to get her out of somewhere-or-another. She loved Patrick, but either she met him after she married or else she didn't think he could help her with what she needed. In my head, he's a kid from The Neighbourhood, wherever that is, and she didn't think he'd amount to much. She's the kind of woman who relies on her sex appeal so much that she's wearing lipstick in the shower, and she didn't consider getting out based on her brains. Maybe she didn't have any. Polly Cutler loves her husband even though he's a twit. Rose Loomis doesn't love hers no matter how passionate he is about her. We never really know enough about her to be sure that she really loves anyone, probably not even herself.