‘Niagara’: Marilyn’s Technicolor Noir

Over on the BFI website, David Parkinson includes Niagara (1953) in his list of 10 Great Technicolor Films.

“There was a vogue in the 1980s for colourising black-and-white films to make them more attractive to modern audiences. While the process is aesthetically reprehensible, it would be tempting to reverse it to see how Henry Hathaway’s Technicolor noir might look draped in the form’s more familiar monochrome shadows. Indeed, Hathaway toyed with the idea himself by originally limiting the colour in the morgue scene to the femme fatale’s blonde hair and blue eyes.

Some of the views of Niagara Falls have a travelogue feel, but Hathaway continually employs them as psychologically revealing backdrops to deep-focus long shots of Rose Loomis (Marilyn Monroe) and her shell-shocked Korean vet husband, George (Joseph Cotten). Hathaway also utilises the blinds in cabin B to block out Niagara’s beauty and power. Their sudden shutting silhouettes Monroe in the darkness in a way that’s every bit as visually arresting as the reds of her lipstick, jacket and the flashing warning light in the Rainbow Tower.”