The Blonde Bombshell Marilyn Monroe is to die for!. Here’s my review of Niagara (1953)
Tagline – A raging torrent of emotion that even nature can’t control!
What’s going down?
That brilliantly simple but perfectly written tagline above sums up this film in a bombshell, I mean nutshell! Two love birds arrive at the Niagara Falls holiday park for the start of their overdue honeymoon. Happy, joyful and ready to enjoy their fun vacation at the Rainbow Cabins resort. Perched directly overlooking the spectacular attraction. Unfortunately they hit a snag. Their prime positioned honeymoon cabin is still occupied! When a sultry lady answers the door, acting all upset that her husband is ill and asleep, she begs to have more time. Eager to start their honeymoon the kind pair are happy to change to a downsized cabin. They soon learn the outrageously attractive woman who occupied their cabin is bored and frustrated with her brooding husband. A depressed, jealous and extremely troubled man struggling with PTSD received during the Korean War. He yearns desperately for the love and affection of his beautiful wife as he suspects she is having an affair. The two newly wed guests will soon be caught up in the drama to unfold. A thriller with two spectacular wonders of the world. Niagara Falls and of course, Miss Monroe.
The main players
Marilyn Monroe plays Rose Loomis
Joseph Cotten plays George Loomis
Jean Peters plays Polly Cutler
Max Showalter plays Ray Cutler
Denis O’Dea plays Inspector Starkey
Tagline – Marilyn Monroe and Niagara the high water mark in suspense!
Sure I’ve seen them in something?
Apart from seeing Some Like It Hot (1959) and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) in my teens I haven’t really seen any Marilyn Monroe films! Well other than catching her in a small part in All About Eve (1950) with Bette Davis. Of course she is an icon of pure legend and pop culture. Helped by that subway dress scene from The Seven Year Itch (1955), Pop Art from Andy Warhol and without doubt that crazy sexy bombshell body of hers. You know what? I’m a brunette guy to be honest, maybe I’m not a gentlemen? But gee whizz! Miss Monroe hits the spot. The fascinating thing about Niagara is the fact she plays a villain. “She’s a tramp!“.
Thing is Marilyn Monroe might not be the greatest actors. All that pouting, whispering, breathless talking. Flaunting that voluptuous body and what seems to be tattooed on deep red lipstick. However all those things play perfectly for her role here as the pleasure seeking, two timing, femme fatale Rose Loomis. Your jaw hits the floor just like every guy she walks on by. She minces on past in a figure hugging red dress. “Parading around, showing herself off in that dress, cut down so low in the front you can see her kneecaps.” Haha kneecaps. Well you’ll be pleased to know you get to see more of the seductive Marilyn than her kneecaps. She squirms around naked under the sheets, driving us and her frustrated husband George Loomis to utter madness. She slowly pulls on her thigh high stockings in her nightdress. She takes a shower, that with only a small amount of imagination you can see the whole nine yards! Then latter she drives you crazy with a minute long hip swinging waddle walk that has you dribbling like an infant. “Hey, get out the firehose!“
Marilyn rightly so gets top billing and is a marvel to watch, however the levelheaded, kind and caring Polly Cutler (Jean Peters) is beautiful and gorgeous too. Ok she might not have the assets of MM but she’s willing to pose for a photo to enhance things. “That’s it darling turn to the side and take a deep breathe” her husband Ray cheekily asks as he takes a holiday snap. “Why don’t you ever get a dress like that?” Polly understands the fascination, Rose pulls it off. She replies “Listen. For a dress like that, you’ve got to start laying plans when you’re about thirteen.“
Now I don’t really know Jean Peters apart from the brilliant Pickup on South Street (1953) where she starred alongside Richard Widmark in director Samuel Fuller’s mini film noir masterpiece. I just read she joined the reclusive lifestyle of her eccentric billionaire husband, Howard Hughes, and all but vanished from public view. Which is a real shame as she is very likable here in Niagara. Any recommendations on her other works? A Blueprint for Murder (1953) and Vicki (1953) both sound great film noirs?
A quick round up of the two men. Two very opposite men. Ray Cutler (Max Showalter) beams a giant smile and wide-eyed joy filled with fun and cheeky comments. Whereas George Loomis (Joseph Cotten) twists and turns with a tormented soul and bottled up anger which repeatably boils over as he lashes out.
I don’t know Max Showalter other than playing I believe Molly Ringwald’s Granddad in Sixteen Candles (1984). Joseph Cotten I know from many films The Third Man (1949) Soylent Green (1973) The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) and what I watched last night, Hitchcock’s 1943 thriller Shadow of a Doubt.
George Loomis – “I met her in a big beer hall. She was the most popular waitress they had. I guess it was the way she put the beer on the tables.” OH MY DAYS! Beer with a wobble! Bites on fist!
Notes on production?
Niagara was directed by Henry Hathaway who famously directed John Wayne in a bunch of films with True Grit (1969) and How The West Was Won (1962) being the two big ones. Others films I’ve really liked were The Dark Corner (1946) Kiss of Death (1947) and the only other one I’ve reviewed so far being Fourteen Hours (1951).
Check this for a Henry Hathaway quote.
“You don’t have to hold an inquest to find out who killed Marilyn Monroe. Those bastards in the big executive chairs killed her.“
Here’s a fun saucy fact about Miss MM and that shower scene. Apparently Hathaway had to keep yelling at sexy Monroe to keep away from the shower curtain and away from the lights as she insisted on being naked (as she was under the bed sheets at the beginning of the film). To pass the censors of the time, the scene had to be darkened in post-production. Steam might not of been the only thing rising around there!! Hehe
Niagara’s screenplay was written in part by Charles Brackett who had worked wonders on Sunset Blvd (1950) and The Lost Weekend (1945) to name a few. Also on hand were writers Walter Reisch and Richard L. Breen.
Hits like a sledge hammer
The look of pain on George’s face of pure despair as his mind is torn to shreds by depression. His own twisted torture and the fact that Rose is teasing and baiting him with her floozy ways. She hates him with venomous passion and takes joy taunting him with her body and refusal to leave him. Instead she comes up with another solution.
George Loomis – “You smell like a dime store.“
Rose Loomis – “Sure. I’m meeting somebody. Just anybody handy, as long as he’s a man. How about the ticket seller? I could grab him on my way out. Or one of the kids with the phonograph. Anybody suits me. Take your pick.“
Niagara looks spectacular. A film noir, rare out of black and white, in pure Three-strip Technicolor. It looks outstanding. Purely breathtaking. The rainbow spectrum’s coming through the haze of mist from the constant water spraying up from the Falls are beautiful. I’ve never been to Niagara Falls. I know it more from Superman II to be honest. What’s fascinating with this film is seeing all the attraction from a 50s view. From passing through the border control into Canada. Witnessing the health and safety nightmare of the twisting maze of wooden stairs up the cliffs into the powerful rain of mist. That nuclear bunker looking tunnel system leading through the cave below. And that steam boat that makes it way around the cove with the men in black and the ladies in bright yellow waterproof macs. I wonder how much it’s changed?
I kind of got a feel of a Alfred Hitchcock film in look but unfortunately without the genuine creative thrills. The story doesn’t really hold up too well when you really think about it. But none of that matters when you got Monroe looking divine, Cotten loosing his mind and Miss Peters looking so sweet and loving. The whole set fits well to adding to the spectacle. So where it may not be the most clever of thrillers it does feature many moments of creative camera work flare and an unique and original setting. But all that aside, this is the Marilyn Monroe show.
Wolfman’s rating 7.5/10 IMDB 7/10
Feel free to recommend me related movies and any other trivia if you wish. Keep having fun at the movies…. Mikey Wolf