For anyone who ever decides to immerse themselves in the film noir genre, you invariably start with the classics. Chinatown, The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, The Big Sleep etc. And rightfully so. Those are all amazing, near perfect films and are the cream of the crop when it comes to that genre. If you keep going once you watch all the classics, you invariably begin to realize that the noir genre was massively popular in its day and given its grungy origins as dime store crime novels and low budget crime thrillers, most of what you’ll see is pretty solidly B-movie fare. Niagara is exactly that type of film.
Ray and Polly Cutler are honeymooners who arrive at the Niagara Falls on vacation. They find their log cabin is already occupied by George (Cotten) and Rose Loomis (Munroe), a strange couple who seem to bicker an awful lot. Rose explains to Ray and Polly that George has only recently been discharged from an army psychiatric ward (!) and asks that they don’t disturb his sleep. Ray and Polly are vanilla, nice-as-pie, suburban Americans so they meekly accept an inferior cabin next door so as not to upset anyone. It already seems like the worst honeymoon ever but what they don’t know is that George and Rose are goddamn crazy people and some people are about to die.
George has a hot temper and flies into a rage at the drop of a hat. What doesn’t help the situation any is that Rose is having an affair with some guy called Patrick. She isn’t particularly careful with this indiscretion and when she engages in some heavy petting with her lover, she is spotted by Polly.
One thing leads to another and eventually…murder! There’s at least one dead body. Maybe two. In fact, it’s not immediately clear whats happened but the local, hopelessly inept police force are on the case. In Niagara, the detectives are most certainly not the stars of the film.
Most of the tension and thrills in Niagara are drawn from Polly observing what has really happened and her inability to convince the police or her husband that there is a crazy killer on the loose. Where the film hasn’t particularly aged so well is that Ray and the cops have absolutely no good reason not to believe Polly. It’s pretty obvious that they are dismissive of her claims because she’s a woman and as far as they’re concerned, women are hysterical nut jobs who see things that aren’t there and should be treated like babies. Seriously, this film would be over in 30 minutes if the stupid husband Ray just took Polly at her word. At one point she literally points to the shed where the killer is hiding but he just laughs it off and wanders off. Good job, guy.
Niagara is a moderately entertaining crime thriller. It’s short, silly and has its moments. It was released somewhere in the middle of Munroe’s filmography and I presume is largely banking on her name to draw people into watching the film. And to be fair, she is ridiculously hot in Niagara. Most of the other women in this film look like they walked off the set of Happy Days. She looks like the picture above, taken on set.