Noir Scenes: Marilyn in ‘Niagara’

Chris Wade’s review of Niagara, first published in Scenes magazine, is posted at his new blog here. Chris is also the author of the 2021 book, Marilyn Monroe: The Classic Performances.

“Some have seen Marilyn’s sexualisation in the film as a flaw, but what kind of sexy noir thriller would it be without a sexy noir dame? Niagara is now well known for THAT walk scene, the longest in film history as it was once dubbed. For me however, one of the key scenes here is less subtle, but highlights Marilyn’s sexual magnetism and power over the camera. She is in bed, naked beneath the cover. [Joseph] Cotten comes back to the lodge and she quickly lies down and pretends to be asleep. When he gets to bed and turns away from her, she opens her eyes. It is in that look, half smirking, that Monroe’s part can be defined. She turns away in the bed and goes to sleep, before the change into the next scene. For me, this pre-echoes what Monroe is about to do in the film but also illustrates how aware she was of what the camera could capture in her. For this scene alone, anyone doubting Marilyn’s abilities will no doubt change their mind.”