Niagara ★★★

"Henry Hathaway's hypnotic contemplation of two American monuments, Niagara Falls and Marilyn Monroe," writes Dave Kehr in his capsule, and shot mostly on location in a very Hathaway-esque way where the landscape functions as an obvious but unintrusive metaphor for the drama unfolding (the falling ice of Spawn of the North; the raging river of Bottom of the Bottle). Here you've got two overwhelming spectacles: the giant waterfalls and Monroe's swinging hips that Don Wilson can't help but stare at even with his wife standing right there. Cotton does what he can with his psychopathic war veteran role, but it's a thankless adultery-turned-murder story, mostly stunted by a role where Monroe has the right sexuality but her conviction as a malaised housewife seems a bit outside her range. There's a lot of messy plotting here, with Wilson's obliviousness to his wife Jean Peters' distress feeling a bit forced, all trying to reach toward that final climax, which had just a bit too much rear projection for my tastes (though it may have been an effect of the new DCP). Thumbs up for the murder sequence, the kind of thing that I'm sure made Hitchcock jealous.

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