For Reel


Niagara (1953)
October 3, 2016, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Henry Hathaway
4 Stars
niagaraIn Niagara, director Henry Hathaway takes an equal interest in the dual spectacles of the eponymous Falls and Marilyn Monroe herself. They are both distinguished as possessing breathtaking beauty and the potential for causing incredible havoc. Despite the inspiring beauty of the location, the water’s mist creeps with the same foreboding as the fog of a Universal cemetery. Similarly, Monroe’s presentation is as unabashedly pleasurable as it is in any of her films (including peekaboo glimpses through a shower door and sheets just barely covering her body), but that she is treated as all surface is a contradiction with the fact that she possesses dangerous hidden agendas. In one of her most glamorous scenes, she taunts her traumatized veteran husband (Joseph Cotten) by playing the record that reminds her of an ex-lover. That the film deals with the way audiences perceive certain images is met well by the honeymooning Polly and Ray Cutler (Casey Adams and Jean Peters), who witness the perversity and murder as outsiders. Niagara is a hugely unusual noir in the way it shifts point-of-view and seems noncommittal in dealing with Cotten’s damaged war veteran (most noirs would insist on following his perspective), and the similarly daring cinematography by Joe MacDonald memorably conveys the unbridled, potentially lethal passions of the waterfall.

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