Obviously ignoring the idea that there are Seven Wonders of the World, Twentieth Century-Fox has discovered two more and enhanced them with Technicolor in “Niagara,” which descended on the Roxy yesterday.
For the producers are making full use of both the grandeur of the Falls and its adjacent areas as well as the grandeur that is Marilyn Monroe. The scenic effects in both cases are superb. And if a viewer cavils at the fact that the romantic melodrama enveloping both the Falls and Miss Monroe is less than spectacular, then he is perfectly within his rights.
Seen from any angle, the Falls and Miss Monroe leave little to be desired by any reasonably attentive audience. But the Messrs. Charles Brackett, Walter Reisch and Richard Breen are relating a story that is scarcely a tribute to their imaginations.
A gossamer and fairly transparent plot involves a vacationing couple, Miss Monroe and Joseph Cotten, her psychoneurotic husband, with Jean Peters and Casey Adams, who are spending a belated honeymoon at the Falls. It turns out that Miss Monroe, a glittering blonde with a roving eye, is not only helping drive her husband back to gibbering distraction but also is plotting to do away with him and take off with a handsome Romeo.
Miss Peters and Mr. Cotten become aware of these morbid machinations and it is nip and tuck before Miss Monroe, her romantic side-kick and Mr. Cotten get what we assume must be their just desserts. In the interim, however, there are any number of the aforementioned exciting views of the Falls, a ride on the Maid of the Mist and a tour of the Cave of the Winds interspersed in the adventure.
Director Henry Hathaway, an old hand at this game, has extracted some actionful shots as well as more than a moment or two of suspense as the frightened Miss Peters is being pursued along the sodden, treacherous walks of the Cave of the Winds, as Miss Monroe is being chased up the famed Bell Tower, and in the climactic sequence—which would do credit to any of the silent thrillers—as Miss Peters is saved by a helicopter from a rock in the rapids at the brink of the Falls.
As the brooding, jealous ex-veteran who is mentally badgered by his scheming wife, Mr. Cotten is giving a straightforward portrayal, and his heroics, which are sometimes phony, have redeeming qualities. He obviously is an overwrought man ravaged by a love he can’t control.
Jean Peters makes a believable honeymooner who is as comely as they come but Casey Adams is a mite too enthusiastic as her energetic spouse. Don Wilson and Lurene Tuttle add a few comic touches as his boss and his wife.
Perhaps Miss Monroe is not the perfect actress at this point. But neither the director nor the gentlemen who handled the cameras appeared to be concerned with this. They have caught every possible curve both in the intimacy of the boudoir and in equally revealing tight dresses. And they have illustrated pretty concretely that she can be seductive—even when she walks.
As has been noted, “Niagara” may not be the place to visit under these circumstances but the falls and Miss Monroe are something to see.
Featured in “Ice-Colorama” on the Roxy stage are Jo Barnum, Alice Quessy, Ray Frost, Tony LeMac, Ann Nichols, Johnny Flannagan, Tommy McGuinness, Marc Nelson and Angel Rosa and his Bongo Boys.
NIAGARA, written by Charles Brackett, Walter Reisch and Richard Breen; directed by Henry Hathaway; produced by Mr. Brackett for Twentieth Century-Fox.
Rose Loomis . . . . . Marilyn Monroe
George Loomis . . . . . Joseph Cotten
Polly Cutler . . . . . Jean Peters
Ray Cutler . . . . . Casey Adams
Inspector Starkey . . . . . Denis O’Dea
Patrick . . . . . Richard Allan
Mr. Kettering . . . . . Don Wilson
Mrs Kettering . . . . . Lurene Tuttle
Mr. Qua . . . . . Russell Collins
Boatman . . . . . Will Wright
Doctor . . . . . Lester Matthews
Policeman . . . . . Carleton Young
Sam . . . . . Sean McClory
Landlady . . . . . Minerva Urecal