Film / Niagara

Niagara is an American 1953 Film Noir thriller directed by Henry Hathaway, starring Marilyn Monroe, Joseph Cotten, Jean Peters, and Max Showalter.

Ray and Polly Cutler (Showalter and Peters), on a delayed honeymoon at Niagara Falls, find their reserved cabin occupied by George and Rose Loomis (Cotten and Monroe). The Cutlers politely accept another, less desirable cabin, and so the two couples become acquainted.

George and Rose have a troubled marriage. She is younger and very attractive. He is jealous, depressed and irritable, and has recently been discharged from an Army mental hospital after his war service in Korea. During their time in the Falls, Polly discovers that Rose has an affair with another man, and the Cutlers witness George's rage. Soon enough, Polly becomes a confidante of sorts to George, while Rose's intentions soon become muddier than they seem.

Monroe was given first billing in Niagara, which elevated her to star status. Her following two films of that year, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, with Jane Russell, and How to Marry a Millionaire, with Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall, were even bigger successes.

This film contains examples of:

  • Anti-Villain: In the end, George is this. The movie states that he was discharged from an Army mental hospital after his war service in Korea, implying that he suffers from the psychological effects of the war, he kills Rose's lover but it's in self-defense because Rose and her lover conspired to kill him, which eventually leads him to kill Rose, and he shows his human side to Polly, even when it's too late for him.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Marilyn Monroe's character, of all people, is this. She gets top billing but not only is she the villain, she dies before the climax!
  • Inevitable Waterfall: The climax, in which Polly is stuck on a boat moving inexorably toward the lip of the titular waterfall with the mentally unstable George. He pulls a Redemption Equals Death by helping her climb out onto a rock before he plunges lethally over the edge.
  • Redemption Equals Death: George's chase eventually ends with him saving Polly from going over the Falls, at the cost of him going over the Falls to his death.