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George and Rose Loomis are honeymooning at a Niagara Falls motel. She plots with Ted Patrick to do him in, but all does not go smoothly. For one thing, after Loomis is reported missing Polly Cutler spies him at the motel but her husband Bud thinks she's imagining it. Marilyn sings "Kiss." Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
Niagara is one of those wonders who came out of the dream factory of the fifties and still manage to leave deep impressions in fresh viewers. Technically it is simply perfect: the story is like in a film noir, but Niagara is anything but «noir»! This is a true color movie with high artistic and aesthetic value. The best possible use was made of the location; it is an idealized place for honeymooners, with gleaming surfaces, gaudy colors and happy faces. The viewers see the postcard-image of the place it's the era of President Eisenhower, renowned for its uplifting moral integrity, right? But behind the surfaces are dark rooms, depression, madness and scheming thoughts. Innocuous facades conceal quarrels, discontent and eventually murder. And in its midst roars the waterfall, at once beautiful and menacing. The message of the movie is conveyed largely through pictures, the location not the screenplay is the story.
The actors are part of the location. As far as I can remember there are hardly any close ups. Marilyn Monroe looks feverish and disturbed throughout, she elicits compassion rather than arousing sexual desires. Joseph Cotten is very good in the role of her confused and deranged husband. His mental condition seems to stem from war experiences (although in the movie this is treated as a kind of a side remark, its being mentioned is worth remembering, it happens seldom enough). To the disturbed couple are added a «normal» couple and an older, «seasoned» couple (very good, sensible performances by Lurene Tuttle and Don Wilson). The cast aptly represents the chances and pitfalls of life and human relations as behind them water flows down the river and falls over the edge.
Niagara shows a highly artistic approach to a specific place and uses symbols in the way of earlier black and white movies. I can highly recommend it to everyone. It is a pity that the potential of the technical means of this kind of widescreen color movies was not explored further in that direction, creating a direct link between the style of film noir and that of «film couleur». The wet asphalt in the early morning light is just unforgettable.
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