Though Henry Hathaway’s 1953 film Niagara put a rather hopeless spin on marriage, the film turned Niagara Falls honeymoon fever—one hundred years old in 1952—into an epidemic. It also vaulted Marilyn Monroe into her now-familiar position as an icon of ruthless American femininity.
Much of the interest in the film’s “Marilyn walk” focused on the question of whether it was real. A minicontroversy—the kind that perpetually swirled around Marilyn—arose over the seemingly trivial question of how her hip-swinging, eye-catching wriggle of a walk came to be. The controversy reflected what biographer Sarah Churchwell calls “the central anxiety in Marilyn’s story: Was she natural or manufactured? Scripted or real?”
In the ’50s, this was becoming a question for the Falls too.
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