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Another Marilyn catalog title hits Blu - and this is one of her all-time best...
Fox / 92 Minutes / 1953 / Unrated / Street Date: July 30, 2013
Marilyn Monroe as a villain? No? Yes! In Niagara, Rose (Marilyn Monroe) and her brooding husband George Loomis (poorly cast in Joseph Cotton) are nearing the end of their vacation at a quaint Niagara Falls motel. Naughty Rose is having an illicit affair with a young hunk, and she wants to end her marriage without the complication of divorce. Rose plans to have her lover kill George near the deadly rocks at the bottom of the powerful Niagara Falls, but her plan mysteriously fails, and desperate Rose tries to escape blame. What's a poor girl to do?
Henry Hathaway directed this Hitchcockian thriller written by Walter Reisch, Richard Breen and Charles Brackett (who also produced). Sure, the film has it's dated elements, but there still is a palatable undercurrent of sexual tension, surprisingly successful moments of comedy, alluring cinematography and an overall menacing mood thanks to a tightly-knitted script.
Perhaps on paper, the character of Rose may seem like a modest star vehicle for any actress, even if she really gets equal screen time with the rest of the cast. But perhaps the only weakness to the script is that ultimately Rose is the most interesting character, and Monroe certainly plays Rose to the hilt. She's just stunning here with her sensual, full-on "Monroe persona" - less the sweet, dumb blond many adore than a crafty manipulator who is more than what she initially seems. Even if another attractive actress had played the part of Rose Loomis, such as a less uptight Janet (Psycho) Leigh, I still think Rose would pop off the screen. Marilyn was smart enough to figure this out, and made Rose poignant in an otherwise "witchy" role.
Alas, the other characters have no edge. Her husband could have been more interesting, but we never get the sense that we know him. Further, Joseph Cotton doesn't exhibit much empathy as George, nor is he easy on the eyes. And the other actors don't really have anything to work off of - their lives are simple and ordinary. So while Niagara looks great, has a tight plot and pulls out a few surprises, but it's clearly Monroe who steals the show.