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the femme fatale

Never, for me, has a label been so appropriately placed. These dangerous women of film noir and neo noir have earned their place as some of the most powerful, feared, and desired women ever to be onscreen. "She kisses him so he'll kill" - this was the tagline for the classic film noir - Double Indemnity (1944) - this is the perfect description for a film noir. The mystery surrounding the femme fatale is what drives most film noirs and neo noirs.

Below are two lists - a description of femme fatales from classic film noir and a description of femme fatales from neo noir. These are some women to be reckoned with.

femme fatale of film noir

*Seductive sexuality
*Power and strength over men because of her sexuality
*Deception, disguise and confusion surround her - making her an ambiguous figure
*No close female friends
*She is contained/punished in some way at the end
*Reflection of male fear: loss of control, of will, of identity
*Desire was for money - deploys false promises of romantic permanence to secure a commitment to the crime from the male

femme fatale of neo noir

*Same seductive sexuality, power, strength and ambiguity as classic film noir
*Usually portrayed as pure evil and intelligent (demonized because of her intelligence)
*Sometimes gets away with her crime
*Reflection of female scorn and derision for men - these heroines find no match in the men around them
*Desire for power, money and sexual gratification - deploys false promises of romantic permanence to secure a commitment to the crime and her sexual needs
*Because of decline of Production Code, the new heroine uses 2 new devices to establish her status: repeated representations of sexual acts and transparently sexual speech
*Unlike classic femme fatale, she has control of the narrative - the story is told from her point of view

"She's convinced, rightly as it turns out, that all men are saps put on Earth to serve her. Love is not in her vocabulary; sex will do for now, but money is what she really wants, and she does not want to share it." Rozen, People Weekly, 1994