Friday, March 16, 2012

Classic Hollywood Archetypes: The Femme Fatale

Jan Sterling
The femme fatale (which translates from the French as "deadly woman") is an archetype that pre-dates cinema. She is often portrayed in literature and film as a sexual vampire (leaving her male victims as shells of themselves), hence the turn-of-the-century American slang term "vamp", synonymous with this character.

The hey-day of the femme fatale  was seen in the film noire era of the 40's and 50's. Some debate whether she's a misogynist representation of something men fear, or response to the war and the new breed of woman independent from men.

You can spot her by her suspiciously seductive sideways glance, her serious bedroom eyes, the cigarette on her lips and the pistol in her garter (but you'll probably see that one too late).

Gloria Grahame
Lauren Bacall
Kim Novak

Ava Gardner
Ann Savage

Veronica Lake
Hedy Lamarr
Lizabeth Scott
Rita Hayworth
Yvonn Decarlo (later asked how she felt about playing Lily Munster, Decarlo said she'd "play her just like Donna Reed")
Linda Darnell
Marlene Dietrich
Peggy Cummings
Joan Bennett

1 comment:

  1. Dan Zukovic's "DARK ARC", a surreal and stylish femme fatale modern noir dark comedy called "Absolutely brilliant...truly and completely different..." in Film Threat, was recently released on DVD and Netflix through Vanguard Cinema (, and is currently
    debuting on Cable Video On Demand. The film had it's World Premiere at the Montreal Festival, and it's US Premiere at the Cinequest Film Festival. Featuring Sarah Strange ("White Noise"), Kurt Max Runte ("X-Men", "Battlestar Gallactica",) and Dan Zukovic (director and star of the cult comedy "The Last Big Thing"). Featuring the glam/punk tunes "Dark Fruition", "Ire and Angst" and "F.ByronFitzBaudelaire", and a dark orchestral score by Neil Burnett.


    ***** (Five stars) "Absolutely brilliant...truly and completely different...something you've never tasted
    before..." Film Threat
    "A black comedy about a very strange love triangle" Seattle Times
    "Consistently stunning images...a bizarre blend of art, sex, and opium, "Dark Arc" plays like a candy-coloured
    version of David Lynch. " IFC News
    "Sarah Strange is as decadent as Angelina Jolie thinks she is...Don't see this movie sober!" Metroactive Movies
    "Equal parts film noir intrigue, pop culture send-up, brain teaser and visual feast. " American Cinematheque