This wonderful movie has Marilyn Monroe at her sexiest and the incredible Niagara Falls for a backdrop. What more could you ask for? Marilyn is the trashy wife of dull Joseph Cotten; he thinks they came to Niagara for a vacation, but Marilyn's lover has other plans. There is also a sweet, young couple who won their trip to Niagara, but get more than they bargained for.
Monroe is perfect as the cheap floosie who likes to toy with men. She burns up the screen when she sings a torchy song. This is almost cinema ancient history, because her performance is sooooo 1950's, but it's a fun ride, full of suspense and those beautiful Falls. Joseph Cotten is truly pitiable as a rancher with battle fatigue who wants to be loved.
If you've ever been to Niagara Falls, this film will bring back great memories; you can almost feel the mist! Those who haven't been there will want to go after seeing Niagara. It's a dandy of a thriller, well-written and acted.
"Niagara" is a sexually charged suspense film reminiscent of the film noirs of the 1940s, but in bright Technicolor. It was Marilyn Monroe's first starring role and promoted the image of MGM's new rising star. The look and demeanor which Monroe wears in "Niagara" is the image she would create over and over again on screen and with which her name is permanently associated. Polly and Ray Cutler are on a delayed honeymoon to Niagara Falls, where they take a cabin next to another American couple, Rose and George Loomis. George Loomis (Joseph Cotton) is a troubled WWII veteran with "battle fatigue" and an obsessive, unstable manner. Rose (Marilyn Monroe) is his young sex pot wife, whose attentions improve George's state of mind and whose indiscretions inflame him. When Polly (Jean Peters) is kind enough to bandage George's hand after he injures it in a violent fit, George opens up to her about his marriage and his troubles. Rose discusses her husband's illness openly and may have ulterior motives for wanting people to think George is crazy. Polly's sympathy and curiosity draw her into Rose and George's warped and soon-to-be-violent world.
Marilyn Monroe certainly looks the part of Rose Loomis, and Rose is a villainess, not a sympathetic character, which would become unusual in Monroe's career. Rose is a very good role for her, though. Whether Monroe is acting or not is debatable, but beside the point. She is acting like Marilyn Monroe. She wears glossy bright red lipstick in every scene, including in the shower, to bed, and even when it clashes with her hot pink skin tight dress. The stand-out performance here is from Joseph Cotton, as the violently unstable, self-destructive George Loomis. Cotton leaves no doubt in the audience's mind that George is suffering, sometimes hateful of his wife but deeply in love with her, and considerate in his own way when he warns Polly against allowing love to "go over the edge", "like those falls". Rose and George are equally corrupted, for different reasons. But Joseph Cotton makes George sympathetic, despite his many faults. This is in contrast to Polly's husband Ray (Casey Adams), who is a "nice guy", but essentially shallow and chauvinistic. The audience, like Polly and Ray, is at first fascinated by Rose and George. But as the film develops, the interesting, though understated, relationship becomes George and Polly, who are the story's central characters in the sense that they have an emotional arc, while the others are static. Polly is "Niagara"'s brains and its occasionally confused moral center.
For film noir buffs: The 1945 film "Leave her to Heaven" is widely reputed to be the single color film that is classic film noir. But it isn't -it isn't noir, that is. "Niagara" might be a better candidate. George Loomis is probably the only truly noir character in this film, and "Niagara" isn't as introverted as film noir. Its views of sexuality and gender roles are moving into the Eisenhower era. Nevertheless, "Niagara" takes a lot of inspiration from the crime films of the 1940s. Rose is a femme fatale, although her machinations seem more foolhardy than ambitious, and she's not a strong character. Sex is portrayed as a corrupting force, as Rose and George's relationship is contrasted with Polly and Ray's. But "Niagara" is puritanical rather than paranoid. The sex of film noir is primal but attractive, a force of nature meant to exploit human flaws and reveal the fragile and laughable condition of the characters' egos. In "Niagara", it isn't so much Rose's seduction that plagues George, but the fact that his entire self-image is vested in his wife's sexuality. Odd. "Niagara" is a sort of bright, lacquered perversion of film noir. In any case, this is quite a thoughtful film as well as being a top-notch suspense.
The DVD (20th Century Fox Diamond Collection 2004): This is a restored print of the film that looks very good. Bonus features include several theatrical trailers, a Restoration Comparison, and a Still Gallery. The theatrical trailer for "Niagara" (3 minutes) is black-and-white. There are trailers for 4 other Marilyn Monroe films and one for the Diamond Collection of DVDs (1 minute). The Restoration Comparison (1 minute) is a side-by-side comparison of the unrestored print, which was sallow and greenish, and the new one. The Still Gallery includes 18 black and white pictures and 3 color photos of Marilyn Monroe. Most are movie stills, but there are a few publicity and wardrobe photos thrown in. Subtitles are available in Spanish, captions in English, and dubbing is available in French.
on September 29, 2005
"Niagara" is one of my favorite Marilyn Monroe movies. To be honest, though, I think Marilyn's performance here is a bit stiff and forced at times, but this film still reeled me in. "Niagara", in my view, is catapulted into the realm of "5-Star" status not merely by Marilyn Monroe's lovely presence, or on the strength of the suspenseful screenplay -- but, instead, based in large part on the outstanding on-location filming at Niagara Falls. The wealth of "Falls" scenery makes this 89-minute movie seem like a mini-vacation to Niagara Falls in many respects. You can almost feel the spray of the Fall's mist in several scenes.
In addition to the gorgeous scenery of the Falls (plus M.M.'s beauty too, of course), "Niagara's" other cast members rate pretty high marks for their work in this movie too (IMO) -- including the always-great Joseph Cotten as "George Loomis". Cotten is excellent as Loomis, Marilyn's semi-neurotic and always-suspicious husband. (It's a bit of a "May-December" relationship between Monroe and Cotten -- MM is 26 here; Cotten is 47.)
Jean Peters also co-stars in the film, and Jean is very nearly as lovely and captivating as Marilyn here. Also watch out for Casey Adams, Russell Collins, Lurene Tuttle, and Will Wright. Plus Don Wilson, who does a nice job here in a humorous role as "J.C. Kettering". Wilson for many years served as Jack Benny's sidekick and announcer on radio and TV. It's kind of fun being able to see Don in something else here.
Many people have chastised the performance of Casey Adams (aka: Max Showalter) in this film, citing his acting here as a major (or minor) debit which brings the movie down a notch or two. I disagree with any such Adams' assessment. I think Casey does just fine in this film (as the husband of Jean Peters). I think his part is played pretty well here, countering nicely that of the Marilyn and Joseph Cotten characters.
Casey has a couple of the best lines of dialogue in the movie too, when he laments to his wife: "We wait three years for a honeymoon, and spend it with a couple of spooks!" .... "Sports clothes -- Ha! All we needed here were a couple of shrouds!"
IMO, Casey's performance is many times superior to that of Denis O'Dea (who plays Police Inspector "Starkey" in the film). O'Dea seems stiff as a board when he's reading his lines of dialogue. But, not everybody can be as good as Joseph Cotten I guess. ;)
"Niagara" arrived on DVD in May 2002 as part of "The Diamond Collection" of discs showcasing this most famous of American movie bombshells -- Miss Marilyn Monroe. The movie looks very nice on DVD too. An above-average transfer to the DVD format IMO. The before-and-after "Restoration Comparison" on the disc shows us the work that went into bringing the film's colors back to life.
"Niagara" premiered in theaters on January 21, 1953, and was originally projected on theater screens in the same ratio we find on this disc (Full Frame; 1.33:1) -- or very nearly that same screen shape at any rate; it might actually have been an ever-so-slightly wider ratio of 1.37:1 on theater screens (which is the "Academy Ratio" that was commonly used for films shot prior to the mid-1950s). But in either case, this disc does not contain a "Pan-&-Scan" video transfer, as has been advertised by some sources. There would be no need at all to P&S this movie, because it wasn't filmed in Widescreen.
Fox Home Entertainment, however, has made it very confusing for buyers of this DVD to figure out just exactly what is the screen shape of the image contained on this disc -- because (for some reason) Fox has printed BOTH "Full Screen" and "Widescreen" on the back of the packaging here. In tiny lettering at the very bottom of the back cover, it says "Widescreen Version", which is definitely an error. No Widescreen here at all. Nor would it be wanted for this Full-Frame motion picture.
This disc offers up three Dolby Digital audio choices for the listener -- The original English Mono, plus a re-mixed 2.0 English Stereo track, as well as French Mono. Subtitles can be accessed in English and in Spanish.
In addition to the interesting "Restoration Comparison", other extras on the disc include the Original Theatrical Trailer for "Niagara", five other Marilyn-related Trailers, and a Photo Gallery. A one-page printed insert also is included, with a Scene Selection guide for the disc's 24 individual movie chapters.
Like many older movie trailers, this one for "Niagara" (which runs for 3:01) features some different versions of some of the film's scenes. The studios many times put together a Theatrical Trailer using alternate "takes" of scenes within the movie. This is the case here. The differences are subtle; but fans of the film will probably notice (mainly the inflections in an actor's voice, or a different camera angle, which are noticeably different from the version of the same scene that is placed in the final cut of the film).
Another note regarding the trailer -- For some reason, the "Niagara" movie trailer is shown in black-and-white on this DVD. Most odd, since it is presented in its proper color form on an earlier-issued VHS tape version of the film.
It would have been nice if Fox had included the 1962 "Movietone News" segments on this DVD that appear on the 1992 VHS version of "Niagara". But, alas, those clips (all about MM, made just after her death) are absent from the DVD variant. Which is a pretty good reason to hang on to that VHS copy of the film, which, btw, also contains other extras too -- e.g.: the (color) trailer for "Niagara", plus other "mini" trailers for additional MM movies that were being distributed at that time (1992) on VHS by Fox Home Video.
"NIAGARA" is an hour-and-a-half of vintage Hollywood movie entertainment, with one of the biggest stars of the era in her prime (Miss Monroe of course). And when Marilyn is combined with those stunning Falls of Niagara, this film becomes all the more inviting and impressive.
An enthusiastically-recommended DVD.
Never really was a big Marilyn Monroe fan (she was a bit overdone and affected for me) BUT she is PERFECT in this film. She IS her character - a bit cheap, definitely overdone (who on earth wears hot red lipstick in the shower, for example? I can't even get mine to stay on from my apartment to the office, much less the shower! Or bed... on pristine white sheets no less!) but that's why Marilyn Monroe is so, well, Marilyn Monroe. When Casey Adams asks Jean Peters why doesn't she wear a dress like Marilyn, Jean Peters says "For a dress like that, you have to start laying plans when you're about 13." Ain't that the truth. Which brings me to Jean Peters who is the real beauty and star of this film. Jean Peters is magnificent. Smart, understated and (along with Joseph Cotten) full of conflict and inner turmoil. She is a woman whose husband is more concerned with Shredded Wheat (his employer) and reading books than on their belated honeymoon or his beautiful, smart bride. What a bore. In fact, when they first arrive at Niagara Falls, he's more in awe of their view of the Shredded Wheat factory than with that of the Falls. Which is why it's so believable when she gets entwined in the twisted world of Marilyn Monroe and Joseph Cotten. After all, there's only so much Shredded Wheat one can bear in a marriage, right? Anyway, one of the best and eerily perfect components of this particular film is the song Kiss. "There is no other song," Marilyn says as she uses it to drive her already unstable husband into a madness beyond which he could never hope to recover. The bells toll the tune sinisterly as a sign to Marilyn that all is "done." But not really, Marilyn soon learns. I'll stop there for anyone who hasn't yet seen this amazing film. SEE IT! The casting is superb on all accounts. The location shots are beyond amazing (I want to go back to Niagara Falls circa 1950 and stay at the Rainbow Cabins - if only I could!). And don't be surprised if you find yourself suddenly craving a bowl of - you guessed it - Shredded Wheat!
Oh, and the remastering is amazing - the color, the clarity - outstanding.
on August 5, 2013
Fox Home Entertainment has done it again with this beautiful Technicolor Blu-ray of "Niagara" just in time for it's 60th Anniversary. If you already own the standard DVD and are a fan of Marilyn Monroe then you seriously need to think about upgrading to this new Blu-ray presentation. Once you put the Blu-ray on and start watching you'll feel like Marilyn is in the room with you. I'm not kidding, this Blu-ray is that good. Forget the story, just sit back and enjoy the scenery. Joseph MacDonald's beautiful cinematography is eye popping on this latest Blu-ray gem from Fox(Bitrate: 32.50). The detail is exceptional. There are lots of shots of Niagara Falls(in 1953) that make you feel like you're watching a Ken Burns documentary instead of a movie. But it all comes back to Marilyn and she is simply stunning. The detail in this new Blu-ray had my head spinning, from the bright red lipstick on Marilyn's lips to her colorful costumes(very tight). You can even see her blood facial hairs underneath her makeup that's how good this Blu-ray is. Like I said the story wants to be a film noir tale but it was hard for me to believe that Joseph Cotton, who plays Monroe's husband, could be that frustrated with something like her waiting for him in their honeymoon cabin. You get the picture. Fox has been doing a great job in getting most of Monroe's films out on Blu-ray lately and along with "Niagara" they also released "Bus Stop"(1956) last week in memory of her untimely passing(she died 61 years ago today in 1962). Although I was too young to remember the impact she must have had on the Fifties(along with Elvis, Brando and James Dean) I can certainly see what all the fuss was about when I watched this beautiful looking Blu-ray. The restorers at Fox have been on a role lately with not only this title but previous Blu-rays of "Blood and Sand" and "Cleopatra"(one of the best Blu-ray restorations of the year). "Niagara" is 89 minutes(Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1) and contains the following subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, German, Italian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Polish, Swedish and Turkish. Audio are as follows: English DTS-DH Master Audio 5.1(also in Mono), French, German, Japanese in DTS 5.1. Italian & Spanish in DTS 2.0 and Spanish Dolby Digital Mono. As with previous Fox Blu-ray releases, "Niagara" is housed in one of those awful Eco-cases so you might want to switch to a sturdier HD case. In summary, fans of Marilyn Monroe would be wise to add this stunning Blu-ray to their collection. Even if you're not a fan, just sit back and enjoy the scenery. And I don't just mean Niagara Falls.
on August 2, 2013
One of the best Neo-Hitchcock films in chromo-noir vision. It looks great, sounds great and has a pretty good cool fun factor. Marilyn is about as hot as she gets and Joseph MacDonald's three-strip Technicolor cinematography of Niagara Falls is spectacular. I was totally jazzed to see a blu-ray was coming out of this fave and the quality is amazing due to great elements. Instant top 10 list material and a real find for those who haven't seen it.
on March 28, 2002
Let me just say first that I am a HUGE Marilyn fan and in my eyes, she can do no wrong. Well, with a few exceptions... I didn't enjoy all of her movies equally and some are not really that great in my humble opinion ("Bus Stop" comes to mind as an overrated bore...). The fact is that, along with "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" and "Some Like It Hot", "Niagara" is one of my favorite Marilyn movies, over such obvious choices as "The Seven Year Itch" and "How to Marry a Millionaire".
In Niagara, Monroe looks dazzling and, for the first and only time, plays a true villainess. Nowadays, we all remember Monroe for her ditzy blonde characters in which she sadly became typecast. But in this, she displays a knack for playing a would-be murderess intent on offing her husband played by Joseph Cotten with the help of her lover. She eventually ends up being the one murdered by her husband in the final scene.
The storyline is not really sizzling and the other actors don't really retain our interest much, all of them eclipsed by Marilyn who shines like a spotlight. But the plot doesn't really matter. What is important is that we can see Monroe portraying a real grown-up woman and furthermore, with an evil side. I truly loved seeing Monroe use her electrifying sexual charisma as a weapon. She obviously enjoyed playing such a departure from her other screen appearances and we can certainly understand why.
Monroe plays the character of "Rose Loomis" with an intensity and a coldness that perfectly matches her voluptuous appearance. She looks radiant in the very famous "red dress" while softly singing "Kiss" in a very tight close-up with a look of bliss on her face which shows that the character truly enjoys having such a devastating sexual power over men. She tourments her husband by refusing him sexual favors with a cruel glee in her eyes.
Sadly, Marilyn would never be given the chance to play an evil woman again and it's a shame because in Niagara, we see just how good she could be at being bad. From this point on, she would become trapped after her "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" role into playing innocent and vulnerable women. She would never be allowed again to play a woman with such an awareness of her own sexual power on the silver screen.
It makes me sad to see just how wasted her potential was. But fortunately, we have Niagara to show us a darker side of Monroe. I give this movie 5 stars, not because of its story which is somewhat [bad] nor for the acting which is, except for Monroe, rather uninspired. But rather, because it is the film that succeeded in showing us a different facet of the most celebrated Movie Goddess of all time.
on January 3, 2014
I must say that my wife is a really big Marilyn fan and loved the 60th Anniversary Blu-ray. The color really jump's off the screen and with a bigger TV you can really see the detail. We had this one on DVD, but the Blu-ray was really worth it.
on July 1, 2015
For some reason, I love this movie. I have seen it multiple times now and it just captures me every time. Perhaps, its the backdrop of the spectacular Niagara Falls. Perhaps, its Marilyn. Whatever it is, this thriller of jealousy and betrayal and murder is fascinating.
Marilyn plays Rose, a beautiful woman married to George, who suffers from the after-effects of his time in WW2. They are vacationing in Niagara Falls and end up bumping into another vacationing couple, Polly and Ray. Turns out Rose is scheming to hook up with her secret lover and to have him murder her husband so they can run off together. Polly gets wrapped up in their story as she helps George after a melt-down, and then becomes far more deeply involved as the plot unfolds. You end up feeling bad for both George and Rose as they clash and, clearly, their marriage was doomed almost from the beginning. One wonders why the seductive and clearly fun-loving Rose ever got hooked up with George in the first place.
The vintage (now) clothing and vacation setting of Niagara Falls are fascinating. Simpler times were never simply times. The backdrop of the Falls is incredible and you almost feel like it reflects the inevitable destruction of both Rose and George Loomis.
I bought a copy of this on Blue Ray and it was well worth it. When you take an old movie and put it on Blue Ray, it can only get so much better, but it did make the colors pop more (can you say Marilyn's fabulous ever-red and always perfect lipstick) and sharpened up the picture a little, as well.
on September 2, 2013
This is my favorite Marilyn Monroe movie. From the moment she comes on screen the sex appeal radiates off the screen. In some scenes in this movie you can actually see the sheer devil in her eyes as she plots to set up her troubled husband Joseph Cotton so she can run off with her younger lover. Jean Peters is also splendid as an unsuspecting wife of a dorky husband vacationing in Niagara Falls in the cabin next door. Fine acting by all including the falls and the bell tower. The cinematography is excellent and the transfer to blu ray is well done. Marilyn's blood red max factor lipstick is actually blood red not faded red or pink. The falls makes a beautiful back drop.