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    Niagara Blu-ray Review

    Blu-ray Fox

    Jul 25 2013 01:14 PM | Matt Hough in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
    Working her way up through the ranks beginning in 1948, Marilyn Monroe finally attained top billing in 1953’s Niagara, Henry Hathaway’s melodramatic color noir with Marilyn in the last unsympathetic role she’d ever act on the screen. With the unique backdrop of Niagara Falls able to be exploited in quite a few location shots with the cast, Niagara is not a great film, but it exploits its natural assets (the Falls and Marilyn Monroe) to the max.

    Title Info:

    • Studio: Fox
    • Distributed By: N/A
    • Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    • Audio: English 1.0 DTS-HDMA (Mono), English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 1.0 DD (Mono), French 5.1 DTS
    • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
    • Rating: Not Rated
    • Run Time: 1 Hr. 29 Min.
    • Package Includes: Blu-ray
    • Case Type: keep case
    • Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
    • Region: A
    • Release Date: 07/30/2013
    • MSRP: $24.99

    The Production Rating: 3/5

    On a belated honeymoon to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, young couple Polly (Jean Peters) and Ray Cutler (Casey Adams) become acquainted with unhappily married Rose (Marilyn Monroe) and George Loomis (Joseph Cotton). Loomis has mental problems stemming from battle fatigue in Korea, and the young, vital Rose has had enough of tending to him and wants a life of more excitement with her lover (Richard Allan). As Rose skillfully works Loomis up into a jealous rage that everyone including the Cutlers witness, the two lovers plan to do away with Loomis at the Falls and make it look like an accident. But things don’t go exactly as planned for the schemers, and the Cutlers get dragged unwillingly into their morass.

    Screenwriters Walter Reisch, Richard Breen, and Oscar winner (and the film’s producer) Charles Brackett try to add a few surprises to the murderous mix of a love triangle and the innocent dupes who get pulled unceremoniously into their mess, but the plotting never rises above the mundane. Interestingly, however, top-billed Monroe plays almost no part in the film’s final third or the climactic river chase where ironically Jean Peters actually transforms into the star of the film. Director Henry Hathaway, however, provides some terrific insider views of Niagara Falls taking us along with the lovebirds on the Maid of the Mist trip and other points of interest at the tourist attraction. Hathaway also photographs a murder from an interesting high angle and with deep shadows looming lending the film its noirish feel and manages a neat feat of balancing location photography with rear screen projection in the studio tank for the climactic river sequence. Knowing that the public was coming in droves to see the screen’s latest sex bombshell, Marilyn has been poured into a succession of slips, tight dresses, and skirts that leave very little to the imagination and which allow her to show off her famous waddle-walk on several occasions.

    Marilyn also proves pretty adept at playing this two-faced woman: vulnerable and a little desperate when she’s with people who can help her and caustic and vicious when she’s away from prying eyes. We also get our first taste of Marilyn’s singing voice here with Lionel Newman and Haven Gillespie’s “Kiss” proving the character’s theme song (which also serves as a signal from her lover that the deed has been done). Joseph Cotton plays the mentally unstable Loomis quite nicely, boiling with jealousy over his sexy wife who’s on every man’s radar but occasionally sliding back into domestic bliss when she’s not instigating his distrust. Jean Peters give a solid portrayal of a concerned woman trying to help this miserable couple through a bad patch only to realize too late that she’s in over her head. Casey Adams perhaps chortles a bit too much as the more innocent husband Ray. Don Wilson as Ray’s gregarious boss and Lurene Tuttle as his understanding wife make notable appearances in the film’s latter half.

    Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA

    The film is presented in its theatrical 1.33:1 aspect ratio with this transfer in 1080p using the AVC codec. Fox engineers have done a marvelous job giving us a fineTechnicolor look for the film transfer. Reds are wonderfully deep and rich (Marilyn’s lipstick, some roses, the elevator doors, red stripes in flags all really stand out), and blues come off well, too. Flesh tones are quite appealing. The images are free from any age-related problems. Sharpness is usually excellent apart from a few random shots, and black levels are fine if not superb. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.

    Audio Rating: 4/5

    The disc offers DTS-HD Master Audio English tracks in both 1.0 and 5.1. Both are strong with no age-related artifacts spoiling the listening experience. The 5.1 track does open up the sound experience nicely with the roar of the Falls in the front soundstage providing an effective and necessary ambiance to the film’s story even if the rears are completely silent throughout. Dialogue has been well recorded and is never obfuscated by the sound effects or Sol Kaplan’s music score.

    Special Features: 1/5

    Theatrical Trailer (3:03, SD): in black and white

    Marilyn Monroe Trailers (SD): Bus Stop, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, River of No Return, The Seven Year Itch, and There’s No Business Like Show Business, all of which are now available on Blu-ray.

    Overall Rating: 3/5

    A superstar was born with Henry Hathaway’s Niagara, the first of Marilyn Monroe’s color vehicles in which her name appears first in the billing. While the film’s melodramatic elements are dated now and the Blu-ray disc doesn't include any notable bonus material on a star who is synonymous with Fox in the 1950s, the allure of Marilyn Monroe will always be present in these films which sometimes weren’t up to the talents of their leading lady.

    Reviewed by: Matt Hough
    Support HTF when you buy this title:



    8 Comments

    Photo
    classicmovieguy
    Jul 25 2013 08:57 PM

    Casey Adams, aka Max Showalter.

    Thanks for the great review! I am looking forward to seeing the film on blu ray!

    Photo
    Lromero1396
    Jul 28 2013 08:06 AM

    Matt, Robert Harris referred to the image harvest as coming from original elements. I'm guessing he's implying the use of either the 3-strip OCN or a set of separations, but I can't be sure. AFAIK, Fox did not deliberately junk the OCNs for the films shot on acetate following the phasing out of nitrate, but they may have still created CRIs of those titles as they did the nitrates (I have no way of clarifying that, so please don't quote me on it). This, however, does not mean that the OCN couldn't have been lost or have succumbed to vinegar syndrome at some point. I also have a question; did you hear any natural stereo separation in the music on the 5.1 mix?

    Matt, Robert Harris referred to the image harvest as coming from original elements. I'm guessing he's implying the use of either the 3-strip OCN or a set of separations, but I can't be sure. AFAIK, Fox did not deliberately junk the OCNs for the films shot on acetate following the phasing out of nitrate, but they may have still created CRIs of those titles as they did the nitrates (I have no way of clarifying that, so please don't quote me on it). This, however, does not mean that the OCN couldn't have been lost or have succumbed to vinegar syndrome at some point. I also have a question; did you hear any natural stereo separation in the music on the 5.1 mix?

     

    No, I didn't hear much separation in the music between the front speakers. And I've been meaning to go back and alter that part of the video review, so thanks for remidning me.

    blu ray.com and DVD Beaver have posted reviews with some more screenshots as well.

     

    http://www.blu-ray.c...y/72429/#Review

     

    http://www.blu-ray.c...29/#Screenshots

     

    http://www.dvdbeaver...ew6/niagara.htm

     

    Has anyone seen Niagara or Bus Stop in stores with good pricing? I recall last Summer that several of the MM titles could be found for around $9.99.

     

    ***Update.. I stopped at Wally and Costco today. No dice on either title. Neither of the stores had them in stock..

    Photo
    haineshisway
    Aug 10 2013 05:48 PM

    If this isn't a five-star transfer then nothing is - sorry.  

      • Osato likes this

    If this isn't a five-star transfer then nothing is - sorry.  

     

    Awesome. Thanks for the post!

    Is the 60th anniversary US edition the same transfer as the one(s) used for the (earlier) European releases? Thanks

     

    P.S. I'm surprised that a 60th anniversary release- albeit a terrific transfer- has no extras beyond Marilyn trailers! They did great commentaries on their Fox Noir series, inc. color ones (eg BLACK WIDOW). What a pity something couldn't have been done for this standout Fox noir,

      • Osato likes this