Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Month of Mysteries: Niagara (1953)

Niagara (1953) thriller/noir. Directed by Henry Hathaway. Niagara was filmed in Technicolor instead of black and white, like most of the film noirs of the 50s. Cast: Marilyn Monroe, Joseph Cotten, Jean Peters. Along with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire, it helped Monroe become a star.

The film begins when businessman Ray Cutler wins a trip to Niagara Falls. Ray and his wife arrive to find that their reserved cabin has not been vacated by George and Rose Loomis. Rose tells the motel manager and the Cutlers that her husband has not been feeling well and asks them not to wake him, so the Cutlers take another cabin. Rose also confides that George had spent time in a military psychiatric hospital.

On a walk, Polly accidentally sees Rose in the arms of another man at Horseshoe Falls.

In one of my favorite scenes: Back at the motel, Rose, in a sexy hot pink dress, asks some teenagers to play a record of her favorite song, "Kiss." George in a rage storms out of their cabin and smashes the record. Rose tells the Cutlers that George has a bad temper. While Polly tends to George's cut hand, George tells her that he loves Rose, but she is a tramp. Ray joins them, and George says that he gave up his farm because Rose was bored with country life, then volunteered for duty in Korea. He was sent home early with battle fatigue and discovered Rose was having an affair.

In the meantime, Rose calls her lover Ted Patrick, and tells him that they "must put their plan to kill George into action in the morning." Ted agrees. The next day, George, thinking something is up, follows Rose when she goes to buy bus tickets for their trip home. Rose knows she is being followed.. She ducks into the Horseshoe Falls gift shop and loses George. After leaving Rose a card telling her that if things go well, the bell tower will play "Kiss," Ted follows George. Later in the day, Rose asks Polly and Ray if they have seen George. The Cutlers file a missing persons report.  Later that day, the attendant at the Horseshoe Falls finds one rain slicker and one pair of shoes is missing. He informs Inspector James Starkey. Starkey asks Rose and the Cutlers to go with him, where Rose identifies the shoes as George's. While Rose is walking home, she hears the bell tower playing "Kiss" and smiles. Soon, the police discover a body along the shore and ask Rose to identify it.

Will Rose and Ted get away with murder?

This is one of my favorite noir movies. It has Marilyn Monroe and beautiful Niagara Falls for breathtaking scenery. Marilyn's performance as the bad girl was amazing. I do not think any other actress could have done a better job with Rose's character.


  1. Dawn, I haven't seen NIAGRA in years and your review has inspired me to do so again. I agree that it's one of Marilyn's best performances; it was a very different role for her. My Dad was a fan of Marilyn and this was probably his favorite of her movies. Fascinating photo of her at the top of your review!

  2. This was the first Monroe film I ever saw. She played the vamp well.

  3. Marilyn is indeed quite good in this role. It has been quite a while since I have seen "Niagara" and I have never been to the Falls. I think I need to do both! Thanks for a great review, Dawn. I also loved the photo of the lovely Norma Jean.

  4. Oh, Dawn, this is one of my favorite Marilyn Monroe films if not my favorite. It is delightful to watch Marilyn play a calculating devious woman plotting murder. A role that is out of character for her. The story is interesting and it is a entertaining to watch it unfold. Joseph Cotton and Jean Peters are both good also. I have been to Niagara Falls and seen it's beauty. I watched this movie again after my trip to the Falls to see how it looked in 1953. Niagara had changed quite a bit but erosion does that with the power and tons of water that go over the Falls daily. When I went to Niagara Falls of course I thought of Marilyn Monroe. Nicely written review, Dawn. I enjoyed reading it!!!

  5. Rick, Thank you. i had a little trouble picking the picture for my review. Should i go glamorous(hot pink dress), or thriller. Did i make the right choice? :D

    Kim, i do not remember the first Monroe film I saw.

    Toto, Thank you. That makes two of us. To visit Niagara Falls is on my list of things i want to do.

    Aki, thank you. This movie is perfect for me, a little glamor, a little noir.;) i bet seeing the falls is an amazing experience.

  6. Here are two Monroe-related "Niagara" images you may enjoy. First, a color publicity still of Marilyn at the Falls:

    Second, Monroe as a giant in this 40-foot cutout to promote "Niagara" at the Criterion Theater in Oklahoma City. Note the two girls posing for the picture, one near each leg of the mega-Marilyn:

  7. Great review, Dawn, as always. I'm not a fan of either Joseph Cotton or Marilyn Monroe, but I very much enjoyed reading your thoughts on the film!

  8. VP81955, Thank you for finding the awesome picture of Marilyn Monroe.

    Sark, Thank you. I know our taste in films are different. :)