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Bombshell on the Box – Marilyn Alert!

March 11, 2010

NIAGARA, Film4, Fri Mar 12, 5.2opm

Niagara was one of 20th Century Fox’s biggest box office hits of 1953 – the film noir, shot in Technicolor, and directed by Henry Hathaway, was a huge hit for Marilyn Monroe and helped cement her position that year, along with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and How to Marry a Millionaire, as a massive box office draw.

Marilyn stars as Rose Loomis, an amoral young wife conducting a clandestine affair with Richard Allen’s Patrick. While on holiday at the Niagara Falls, their plan to murder her Korean war veteran husband (Joseph Cotten)  goes disastrously wrong, and an innocent honeymoon couple (Jean Peters and Casey Adams) are dragged into the ensuing violence.

Although Marilyn was perhaps better known as a comedienne – and a good one at that – this role challenged her, and she came out with flying colours, showing the promise she had as a dramatic actress that was never fully realised.

However, at the time it seems Marilyn’s beauty and sensuality made her easy fodder for many critics, and  – dare we say it – other bombshells!

Much of the critical commentary following the release of the film focused on Marilyn’s  overtly sexual performance, but mostly Marilyn’s performance had positive reviews. However her conduct at promotional events sometimes drew negative comments. Her appearance at the Photoplay awards dinner in a skin-tight gold lame dress was criticised.

Noted gossip columnist Louella Parson’s newspaper column quoted Joan Crawford discussing Monroe’s “vulgarity” and describing her behavior as “unbecoming an actress and a lady”.

Make what you will of that!

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