Niagara (1953)

Marilyn Monroe and Joseph Cotten
Marilyn Monroe and Joseph Cotten

'Niagara' is a film noir thriller made in 1953, directed by Henry Hathaway and starring Marilyn Monroe, Joseph Cotten, Jean Peters and Max Showalter. Unusually for a film noir, it was filmed in colour and the background shots of the Falls are stunning and dramatic. The film cost approximately $1,250,000 to produce and grossed more than $6,000,000, becoming one of 20th Century Fox's biggest commercial hits of the year.


Marilyn Monroe plays Rose Loomis, who is vacationing at the Falls with her much older husband, George, played by Joseph Cotten. Ray and Polly Cutler, played by Max Showalter and Jean Peters, move into the lodge next door and the nosy Polly sees Rose kissing another man on a stairway by the falls. The man is Rose's lover, Ted Patrick, played by Richard Allan, and Rose is trying to drive her husband crazy ultimately in an attempt to murder him.

The Cutlers get caught up in the intrigue and Polly soon finds herself kidnapped and in a boat racing to the edge of the Falls.


Shooting took place in the summer of 1952.

Although Joseph Cotten was an established star leading man, he was billed second to Marilyn Monroe. The film elevated her to star status and 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 also major hits. The three films grossed over $25,000,000, making 1953 the most successful year of Monroe's film career.

Jean Peters replaced Anne Baxter in the role of Polly. Her character was initially the leading role, but the film eventually became a vehicle for Marilyn Monroe, who was by that time becoming more successful. This is the only film role for Marilyn Monroe in which her character dies.

Even though she had a starring role, Marilyn Monroe was still under contract to 20th Century-Fox as a stock actor at a fixed salary, so she actually made less money than most of her co-actors.

'Niagara' was one of the last films done in 'three-strip' Technicolor by Twentieth Century-Fox before switching to CinemaScope. There were compatibility issues between 'three-strip' Technicolor and CinemaScope but not between CinemaScope and Eastmancolor.

The famous walk by Monroe's character, Rose, in a black skirt and red sweater across the cobblestone street, holds the record for the longest walk in cinema history with around 116 feet of film.

Main Cast

Marilyn Monroe ... Rose Loomis
Joseph Cotten ... George Loomis
Jean Peters ... Polly Cutler
Max Showalter ... Ray Cutler (as Casey Adams)
Denis O'Dea ... Inspector Starkey
Richard Allan … Ted Patrick
Don Wilson ... Mr. Kettering
Lurene Tuttle ... Mrs. Kettering
Russell Collins ... Mr. Qua
Will Wright ... Boatman


Director … Henry Hathaway
Producer … Charles Brackett
Screenplay … Charles Brackett, Walter Reisch, Richard Breen
Cinematography … Joe MacDonald
Format … Technicolor
Distribution Company ... 20th Century Fox
Release date ... January 21, 1953
Running time ... 88 minutes

Academy Awards

No Nominations: