Marilyn’s Dark Side in ‘Niagara’

Marilyn’s star turn as the murderous Rose Loomis in Niagara (1953) makes the list of 100 Essential Female Film Performances on the PopMatters website.

“I first learned about this performance from none other than musician Tori Amos. We were talking about female acting performances that inform and inspire her work during an interview and this was one that she insisted I watch, despite my not ever really warming to Monroe as an actress: ‘I just loved that. I hadn’t been into her, but one of my friends made me watch Niagara and I watched that and I just thought that there are a lot of young women that try and be dangerous Aphrodites, but she, in this role, was really dangerous. And she was seductive. To see how a woman can use her seduction and act as if she doesn’t have a brain in her head, but really is plotting the whole thing and is destroying people’s lives.’ With that recommendation, I had to go out and at least try and see the performance through a new lens, with a different eye. You know what? Tori was right. This is much more than just an icon posturing for her disciples, this was a woman who fought for dramatically substantial parts like Rose and showing people she was more than just an image. With all of the surreally bright rainbow symbolism juxtaposed with the grittiness of Monroe’s diabolical murderess, Niagara is more than just an idol earning a paycheck, and her performance is a force of nature not unlike the film’s foreboding, omnipresent falls of the title. When Tori tells you to watch something, watch it!”

Marilyn in Costume

In today’s LA Times, fashion pundit Freddie Lieba salutes 22 seminal film frocks that bewitched the world. Three of the selections are from Marilyn Monroe’s movies, including this Dorothy Jeakins dress from Niagara (1953).

“Marilyn Monroe plays a femme fatale in this film, and the pink taffeta dress was simply perfect for a seductress—there was both a bow and a cutout near her bosoms. They also famously cut off a little of her high heels to make her hips wobble more and pitch her walk a bit differently and make her somehow look sexier. It was a very risqué look at the time. Niagara was banned by churches when it was first released.”

Can you guess what Freddie’s other choices were?

Find out