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A 1953 Movie Starring Marilyn Monroe and Joseph Cotton

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Not bad, and with a strange, artificial creation of breasts, lipstick and sleepy eyelids to stare at

  • Mar 4, 2011
  • by
Niagara is a second-rate A movie struggling with only partial success to be a first-rate B movie. What it needs is Audrey Totter as Rose Loomis instead of Marilyn Monroe and Charles McGraw as George Loomis instead of Joseph Cotton. We'll keep Jean Peters but let's ditch her husband, especially when played by an actor named Casey Adams as an irritating clone of Robert Cummings. Rose Loomis is a tramp, and a dangerous one, but Monroe for my money is just giving us a caricature of a tramp, all self-conscious sex-pottedness with way too much lip action when she sings.
Just to recap: George Loomis (Cotton) is a loser, without the kind of lusty stamina that could keep happy his younger, lush and scheming wife, Rose (Monroe). They're staying at the Rainbow Cabins, right on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Then Polly and Ray Cutler (Peters and Casey) check in for a second honeymoon. It's not long before Polly and we realize Rose has a young, handsome lover. If Rose has her way, George Loomis might not be with us for much longer. And all the while a lot of water keeps crashing over the Falls. We're in for double crosses, murderous twists, desperate escapes and lots of what must be glue-on lipstick for Monroe's kisser. (It's bright red, thick and glossy, and she never gets a speck on her teeth or a smear on her pillow.)
Of course, there's a reason the movie was named after Niagara Falls and it just might be that George Loomis has better survival instincts than we were led to believe. There are bits and pieces of interesting scenes, but bits and pieces of old Hitchcock do not a Hitchcock movie make.
For me, Monroe has almost always been little more than a collection of curves and breathy sighs, a style-less singer and a limited actress. Her great talent was in having that rare ability to reach an audience through the camera and make us forget there's a camera at all. She was one of Hollywood's great artificial creations, who was blessed mysteriously with genuine star dazzle. In Niagara, however, she's scarcely more than an Eagle Scout's naughty dream. She's not a good enough actress (or even a bad enough one) to be a first-rate femme fatale.
It's Jean Peters who lends Niagara what quality and fascination it carries. After the set-up of the scheme, in fact, the less we see of Monroe the better the story becomes. For the last third of the movie, we don't see her at all, and that's when the movie starts developing some real B-movie crackle. Niagara was made as a vehicle for Monroe, but, for me, she hasn't the skills to bring it off. The oddness of Monroe dominating her scenes and Peters dominating hers makes for a discombobulating story balance.
Niagara is sort of fun to watch. The twists of fate, jealousy and retribution are almost always satisfying. Jean Peters gives a smart, sympathetic performance, and there's this strange, artificial creation of breasts, lipstick and sleepy eyelids to stare at.
Not bad, and with a strange, artificial creation of breasts, lipstick and sleepy eyelids to stare at

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Quick Tip by . December 17, 2010
I see where the average rating for this film is 3.4. Think that nails it pretty well. "Niagara" is by no means a classic but I found it to be a highly entertaining motion picture. Lots of twists and turns in this one. The photography is outstanding and Marilyn Monroe more than hold her own in an unusual dramatic role. If you have never seen "Niagara" do not hesitate. I think you will enjoy it.
About the reviewer
C. O. DeRiemer ()
Ranked #32
Since I retired in 1995 I have tried to hone skills in muttering to myself, writing and napping. At 75, I live in one of those places where one moves from independent living to hospice. I expect to begin … more
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About this movie


Niagara is a 1953 dramatic thriller, film noir directed by Henry Hathaway. Unlike other films noir of the time, Niagara was shot in Technicolor and was one of 20th Century Fox's biggest box office hits of the year. The drama features Marilyn Monroe, Joseph Cotten, Jean Peters and others.[1]

Although it was not written as a star vehicle for Marilyn Monroe, she would dominate the film nonetheless. Along with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire, it solidified Monroe's status as a bona fide box office draw.

Ray and Polly Cutler (Max Showalter and Jean Peters) on a delayed honeymoon at Niagara Falls, find their reserved cabin occupied by George and Rose Loomis (Joseph Cotten and Marilyn Monroe). They politely accept another, less-desirable cabin, and the two couples become acquainted.

George and Rose have a troubled marriage. She is younger and very attractive. He is jealous, depressed and irritable. It is implied that he may have recently been discharged from an Army mental hospital. While touring the falls the following day, Polly sees Rose passionately kissing a man, Patrick. That evening the Cutlers witness George's rage. Rose joins an impromptu party and George storms out and breaks a record playing a tune that he suspects has a secret meaning for Rose.

What George does not know is that Rose is planning his murder. The next day she lures him into following her to the dark tourist tunnel underneath the Falls. There Patrick is to kill...

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