Marilyn Monroe’s first starring role, Niagara is unlike the films she would become known for. Cast as a femme fatale, Monroe plays Rose Loomis, the new wife of older, troubled veteran George Loomis (Joseph Cotten). The couple, on their honeymoon in Niagara Falls, appears to be an utter mismatch. Rose is voluptuous and outgoing; George is nervous and distant. Meanwhile, newlyweds Ray and Polly Cutler (Max Showalter and Jean Peters) are happy to be taking a belated honeymoon to the falls. Upon arrival, they are surprised to find the Loomis’s occupying their cabin.
When the Loomis’s don’t immediately check out, Ray and Polly graciously agree to take the cabin next door, giving up a beautiful view of the falls. Rose apologizes, explaining that her husband, recently released from a veteran’s hospital, is recovering from shell shock.
While the Cutlers are touring the falls, Polly spots Rose kissing her lover (Richard Allan). Later at the motel, Rose joins some young dancers and asks them to play a record called “Kiss.” She is dressed in a sultry red, low-cut evening dress, which prompts Ray to say, “Hey, get out the fire hose.” Upon hearing a song that brings back difficult memories, George angrily breaks the record, cutting his hand. As Polly patches up the cut, George tells her the story of how he met Rose. She was a saloon waitress who turned out to be quite the tramp. As George sees it, his life has gone steadily downhill since the day he married her. However, despite her unfaithfulness, George loves Rose too much to leave her.
Unfortunately for George, Rose has no problem imagining life without him. She plans to have her lover Patrick kill her husband and dump his body over the falls to make it look like a suicide. Things don’t go as planned and the innocent Cutlers find themselves dragged into Rose’s vicious web.
While Marilyn Monroe certainly makes an impression, the real star of Niagara are the majestic and powerful Niagara Falls. The falls symbolize that the Loomis’s sexual conflict is spinning out of control, leading to inevitable destruction. Experienced director Henry Hathaway does a good job of using the location to maximum effect. If Niagara has a weakness, it lies in the fact that mystery elements of the story don’t unfold all that smoothly. The last section of the film feels rush; moving along at the pace of an action film with a strangulation, kidnapping, rescue and death all happening very quickly.
Presented in its theatrical 1.33:1 aspect ratio, Fox’s 1080p Technicolor transfer is a solid one. Reds are vibrant and rich, as are the blues. Flesh tones look natural and the image is free of any defects. Sharpness is above average throughout, with the exception of a few shots here and there. Black levels and contrast are well balanced.
The disc offers DTS-HD Master Audio English tracks in both 1.0 and 5.1. Both are strong with no age-related artifacts. The 5.1 track opens things up, really exploiting the sound of the falls in the fronts. Dialogue has been nicely recorded and is never buried by music or other effects.
English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles are available.
The following special features are included:
- Theatrical Trailer (SD, 3:03) in black and white
- Marilyn Monroe Trailers (SD, 2:32) Bus Stop, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, River of No Return, The Seven Year Itch, and There’s No Business Like Show Business, all of which are now available on Blu-ray.