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
17 thoughts on “Niagara (1953) Misty Moist Mean Mincing Marilyn Monroe”
I can see how much you loved this one,mate. Isn’t it fab? So suspenseful and Marilyn gets to prove she can do more than comedy. Stunning location work too. Makes me feel as though I’ve visited Niagara Falls every time I watch.
If you want more serious Marilyn performances, do check her out in River Of No Return, Don’t Bother To Knock, The Misfits, Clash By Night(also featuring Robert Ryan).
If you want more from Jean check her out in Anne Of The Indies, in which she plays a pirate captain. She should have made more films and been a much bigger star.
If you want more from Joseph check out Portrait Of Jennie, Since You Went Away, I’ll Be Seeing You, The Magnificent Ambersons, Citizen Kane.
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Maddy comes in swinging with a super star worthy amount of recommendations. WOW thank you very much indeed.
I was eyeing up The Misfits when I did the post. That looks so good. Looking at a few images from the film she looks so different. Such a shame that it was her last film. What a big cast to star with. Plus I do loves me some Thelma Ritter.
Loving the sound of Anne Of The Indies. Well she certainly beat Geena Davis to pirate captain role. I do have a small soft spot for Cutthroat Island 🙂
Gonna add them all to the big list. Thank you very much Maddy
It’s been YEARS since I’ve seen this one, so I think I’m due for a watch. Marilyn is definitely sexy as hell, but I think I’d be more likely to have the hots for Jean. I probably saw this on VHS or Beta way back when, and looking at those photos above, it must look outstanding on Blu-ray. Hmmm…maybe I’ll have to check the price of that and see if the Monolith has an empty space for it!
And I don’t know why I was surprised to see it was directed by one of my faves, Henry Hathaway…I probably knew that at one time, but let the memory fade away. I’d ALSO forgotten this is considered a noir film; like ‘Leave Her to Heaven’, I never think of them as noir if they’re in color (that’s against the rules!). And that story of Marilyn being ‘au naturel’ in the shower was great…now I REALLY have to watch it!
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Yeah me too on Miss Jean. She’s right gorgeous. But it was the spectacle of seeing MM like that. It’s weird, you can see why she became an icon. A real aura around her. You just can’t take your eyes off her. Gonna sound strange but like John Wayne, ok not the looks or the assets! haha, but they both have what I imagine is a manufactured image. The way they stand, hold themselves, the walks and the voices. Unique. Makes them stand out. Yeah I know I’m talking nonsense, as usual!
I would definitely recommend a re-watch on blu-ray if you can. It looks amazing. There’s a scene in a bell tower which is so quintessential film noir BUT hey it’s in colour! Messes with mind. It does throw you a bit. (hehe “that’s against the rules”) There’s real debate to whether it would of worked better in black and white. Maybe. But it does look so awesome in techi-colour.
Ooooo I haven’t seen Leave Her to Heaven. Love these two Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde and I spy Vincent Price too.
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Really good film and yes I too am due for a rewatch. Off hand I’d say The Misfits is my favorite Marilyn movie. The knowledge that its both hers and King Gables final film adds to the power it holds on me when I watch it. When I think of Jean Peters I think of 1954s Apache.
Great pick and write up.
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Would I be right in thinking you have visited the spectacular looking Falls? It always amazed me it is split in half on the boarder. Though it does look like Canada got the better deal? 🙂
I saw the imagines of The Misfits and said to myself how different MM looked. Natural. Also with aging Clark Gable as the leading man and Wallach, Clift and I really like Thelma Ritter it sounds essential viewing. Gonna try and watch it this weekend I think. I’m positive I’m really gonna like it.
I have seen Apache many years ago, didn’t know who Jean Peters was back then. Burt as an Apache warrior, I gotta be adding that to my to watch again list 🙂
I have indeed visited the falls a few times over the years. Major tourist attraction for newcomers to the area. Also on The Misfits it was directed by John Huston. Legends all around the set. What a cast! Apache is a good one and let’s not forget the Apache tracker trailing Burt is played by some guy named Charles Buchinsky.
Yeah, this is a good one for Marilyn and for the ambiance and Niagara environment back then which was fascinating. Like you said, how much HAS it changed? Surely those dangerous looking steps have been upgraded somehow! I wonder if people were a little smarter and less reckless in the past, ’cause today, in the Grand Canyon, there’s rangers placed at various points along the trail as you descend down. Hubby and I were hiking down–it takes hours and hours just to walk downhill–and at one stopping point a ranger was patiently explaining to a family who had wandered down with young children that they really should turn around and head back up, NOT keep going forward (as they had planned) because they evidently couldn’t do the match of how long it had taken them to get to THAT point and if they kept going then later tried to walk back, it would be NIGHTTIME.
Anyway, yeah, always loved all the scenery and everything in Niagara.
Interesting that Jean Peters was with Howard Hughes for many years and got sucked into his bizarre life and disappeared from the pubic for a while. I looked her up and noticed she divorced him in ’70, and then a few years later, ’76 he died. She probably by ’70 he was REALLY nuts by then and she’d had enough, I imagine. I mean, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. She probably couldn’t even get him to leave the top floor of the hotel anymore!
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You would hope that they had at least replaced the wooden stairs with some galvanised steel with higher handrails. Hopefully back then they had more sense. You know now that people be taking selfies and then AAAGGGHHJHF!! There goes another. Probably 20 odd a day fly on by! I wonder who gets them? Is it Canada’s clean up job. Saying that the Falls themselves more than likely disappear the bodies! Not sure where I’m going with that……
I’m sure I remember Penn and Teller doing a barrel trick down Niagara back in the early 90s. Didn’t crazy people actually do it for real too. Loony’s.
WOW yeah I can imagine the Grand Canyon taking you by surprise like that. It must be such a wonder that it blinds you with it’s magnificent glory. Desperate to see as much as you can but the brain taking the rationale out of it as you gleefully keep on walking. Only to have your whole body depleted of energy for the climb back. That’s amazing that they have rangers making sure people realise the dangers. One day I hope to go.
It’s sounds kind of sad that she went the same way as him. Maybe she’d had a enough of Hollywood by then and was happy living the big time life. Then it all went wrong. Sounds like she still had the acting bug as it looks like she went straight back into acting. That’s quite a break through 1955/73.
I’ve never seen Leo DC as Hughes in the The Aviator. I wonder if that mentions anything about her.
Love your description of MM! MM and Jean Peters, what a sharp contrast. The ladies and Falls, whats not to fall for. Due for a re-watch. Best regards.
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“whats not to fall for” Haha I like that very much. Hope you get to re-visit it soon. Thank you for the nice comment and sorry for the late reply.
All the best…. Mikey
Yeah, almost 20 years she was gone from acting! Seems like it would be virtually impossible to get back in. Look at what Mickey Rooney had to do, lol !!!
I think you’d like The Aviator. It wasn’t one of my favorite Leo movies ’cause he…didn’t quite… pull it off for me. Although hubby is in the completely opposite corner and thinks he did a masterful job. At any rate, I don’t believe Ms. Peters was one of the actresses represented in the movie. Probably ’cause she came way later in his life.
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Hehe Mickey Rooney was pretty cute, if not a little naughty as the one of the old guards in Night at the Museum.
Thanks for the update on The Aviator. Leo always been an enigma to me. Was never a fan to be honest when he first started. Maybe it’s because he’s a few years younger than me. Sounds silly. He just seemed a brat. But every film I’d watch I go “OK he was pretty good in that” through gritted teeth and half whispered breathe. I think the first time I had to admit blatantly I liked him was in “Catch Me If You Can”. Skip forward many years. And I just can’t keep my eyes off his acting. His performance in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” I thought was out of this world. He should of won the Oscar for his roll. Every moment he was on screen I watched his every mannerism.
The Aviator is added to list mountain and I hope to see it soon.
Thank you and please excuse the late replies.
I’m all out of sorts and slowly getting back to a routine.
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Completely understand, Mikey, being all out of sorts.
But just have to mention one more movie in case you’ve forgotten: it’s not a Leo movie, per se, it’s a Johnny Depp star vehicle, but did you ever see Gilbert Grape? I actually thought they had hired a “challenged” actor for Leo’s role (I think it was his first movie; I’d never seen him before) he did such…an…amazing…job with it! Mind bogglingly good!
I’ve never seen Niagara, Mikey. Like you I haven’t seen many films with Monroe. Bus Stop is a good one. She actually does a good job in that one. Some Like It Hot, All About Eve–seen those. Asphalt Jungle is another one where she has a very small part–I think that was her first film…I’m not sure, but I think so…Anyway, small part but she was good in it. She really jumped out of the screen at you. Her presence. You knew she was special. But yeah, I’ve never been a big fan. She was very smart, you know. Tragic life. Foster homes, orphanage, mom had mental illness, sexual abuse.
I probably won’t see this one, Mikey. I’m not a big fan, though I do like Joseph Cotton a lot. Really enjoyed your review, though.
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I think it was more the spectacle of seeing MM all naughty, tarty and venomous. It’s weird, you can see why she became an icon. A real aura around her. You just can’t take your eyes off her. Now this is gonna sound strange but like John Wayne, ok not the looks or the assets! haha, but like you told me he had that man-made walk. I couldn’t help think she must of had a manufactured image too. The way they stand, hold themselves, the walks and the voices. Unique. Makes them stand out. Yeah I know I’m talking nonsense, as usual! But hey this is Mikey speaking.
Never heard of “Bus Stop” does sounds good. Will keep an eye out for it. I still need to get to Asphalt Jungle. I know I’m gonna love that film anyway….
If you like Joseph Cotton you might not like seeing his poor twist soul being ripped apart with trauma and jealously. All he wanted was some Monroe loving!
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Monroe is a spectacle, no doubt. She’s like the spectacle of “in brilliant technicolor.” It’s not eye catching–it’s eye popping. The reds. The blues. So lush. So manufactured. So beautiful.
Yes, she’s like John Wayne, in that sense. James Dean too. But more so. She’s mega. She’s meta.
I think your comparison to John Wayne is brilliant.
Do watch Bus Stop. It really shows her potential as an actor. She is more honestly vulnerable. And, yes, you MUST watch Asphalt Jungle. That’s an order. Ha!