Marilyn in ‘Niagara’: A Good Girl Gone Bad

Marilyn’s ‘Technicolor Noir,’ Niagara (1953), offers audiences a rare glimpse of her darker side – and its also the only film in which her character dies, as Edgar Chaput writes for Goomba Stomp.

“Henry Hathaway’s film is brought up with great infrequency when perusing websites or articles, scholarly or otherwise, discussing the great thrillers of the noir era. In more than a few respects, it fits the bill like a glove, although two factors help it stand out from the fray. Each is painfully obvious and helps give the movie a different feel than most other thrillers of the period. The first is the presence of Monroe as the co-lead, playing a scheming, duplicitous, unfaithful wretch of a person. This being one of her earlier roles, it is safe to claim that her image would change significantly throughout the years to the extent that few people recall her vividly as a great villainess. Her role and performance in Niagara is very much an oddity in that respect, a unique depiction of her range as a performer and a splendid example demonstrating that she was more than a pretty face, but could act as well. This idea of Monroe as a talented actress is often lost in the shuffle of notions people have of the beautiful starlet, founded or not. Niagara is a statement that she could carry not just her own weight but carry the better portion of an entire film for that matter. Hathaway, not blind to the fact that Monroe was gifted with particular physical attributes, utilizes her sex appeal as part of her character’s arsenal to distract, win people over, and eventually betray them. Many of Monroe’s famous charms are on full display, only each is given a dark twist, therefore leaving viewers with a character they may not like so much.”