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Saturday, 23 June 2012

Niagara (1953) - Star of the month... Marilyn Monroe

"Kiss, kiss me, say you'll miss me..."

Marilyn Monroe is tantalising as Rose Loomis
Directed by Henry Hathaway, Niagara is the 1953 thriller/film noir starring Marilyn Monroe, Joseph CottenJean Peters and Max Showalter, set against a backdrop of breathtaking views of Niagara Falls. Each time I watch this film, I have a burning desire to travel to Canada to see the falls in person. 

'Niagara' is an important film in Marilyn's career as it was the first film where she  received first billing, and with her overtly sexual performance she manages to steal the limelight from her co-stars.

Produced during the film noir period, "Niagara" despite being filmed in glorious Technicolor contains many of the noir elements and characteristics.

Marilyn sings the song "Kiss"
The film begins as Ray and Polly Cutler (played by Showalter and Peters) travel to Niagara Falls for a belated honeymoon. Upon arriving they find their cabin is still occupied by another couple, George and Rose Loomis (played by Cotten and Monroe). Rose is secretly in love with another man and with him schemes to murder George... the film will leave you surprised and shocked!

Tantalising Marilyn as femme-fatale is at her sexiest in this film, with the camera superbly capturing her curvy walk, and dazzling close ups of her face. Marilyn sings the song "Kiss", which she also recorded. The song is used as a recurring musical motif throughout the film, and will leave you humming it's tune long after the film is finished.

Niagara Falls as a metaphor

Early in the film George talks to Polly about Niagara Falls, how above the water is calm and slow, and it eventually becomes faster as it rapidly falls and crashes over the rocks. In hindsight, this is metaphorical in two ways. Firstly, it parallels the Loomis' troubled marriage. At the beginning of the film, the relationship appears to be calm, before a turning point, where the relationship "crashes against the rocks" towards the end of the film. Secondly, this parallels the structure of the film - particularly in the film's suspeneseful conclusion as we ride the wild rapids of Niagara Falls.

Niagara and Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol's "Marilyn Diptych" was inspired by
a publicity still from 'Niagara'.
Shortly after Monroe's death in 1962, pop artist Andy Warhol used a publicity still from 'Niagara' for his silkscreen painting 'Marilyn Diptych'.

Closing remarks

"Niagara and Monroe: The two most electrifying sights in the world" said the trailer. There's really no better way to describe the film, and nothing more I can say but make sure you watch this film.

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