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Fav Noir Bad Girls?

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I MUST choose Marie Windsor over Audrey Totter.

 

Totter made too many big budget masterpieces.

 

Windsor in *"The Killing"* ....her depth of evil and betrayal; simply delicious!

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Oh, but there are so many bad girls to choose from... how about Ava Gardner in The Killers ?

 

Or Shelley Winters in Larceny ?

 

Or Arlene Dahl in Wicked as They Come ?

 

But here are photos of your favorites:

 

Windsor,%20Marie%20%28Narrow%20Margin,%20The%29_01.jpg

 

Annex%20-%20Totter,%20Audrey_01.jpg

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NO QUESTIONED ASKED was on TCM today. I had never heard of it. Not Bad. Add Arlene Dahl to the list of noir femme fatales. She put the screws to Barry Sullivan not once, but twice.

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> {quote:title=finance wrote:}{quote}

> Helen Walker in NIGHTMARE ALLEY would be a good choice, that people wouldn't necessarily think of. She REALLY took Power to the cleaners.

 

Helen Walker's performance was so great because she took the viewer to the cleaners as well! We thought she was a good-guy through it all!!

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She is mesmerizing, and *Laura* is a great early noir. However, I wouldn't say the character of "Laura" is one of a "bad girl" ; certainly not a "femme fatale" , at least by the usual definition of the term. She certainly lied a lot , but so did just about all the characters in that film. Not even the cop is blameless.

The Laura character is somewhat enigmatic, definitely exceptionally beautiful, and often deceptive, sometimes apparently just for the sake of being so. But I don't think of her as the "bad girl" , there is no such character in *Laura*. (Judith Anderson? I think not. Not that she isn't a lot of fun to watch in this movie.)

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Dec 28, 2010 6:36 PM

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"Laura" is a femme fatale in the sense that before he met her, Lydecker was a famous, respected radio commentator. After having met her, the final result was his spending the rest of his life in the slammer. Since a femme fatale is one who ruins mens' lives, I would say Laura certainly fits that classification.

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No, to me a femme fatale is a female character in noir who consciously uses men - or one particular man - to get what she wants. (Usually money - what she wants is "the Muguffin" , it doesn't really matter in itself. ) The men/man are of no importance to her, regardless of how much she swears they mean everything to her. She cynically and deliberately deceives and uses them for her own ends, and has little to no emotional attachment to them.

Laura is not like that. She doesn't want to "use" Waldo Lydecker for anything except a pen endorsement. It is Waldo who becomes obsessed with her, but she does not take advantage of this obsession. Also - and this is an important point - with most femme fatales the man is in sexual thrall to the woman (Jeff to Kathie in *Out of the Past*, Walter to Phyllis in *Double Indemnity*, etc.). Waldo, as we all know, is not interested in Laura sexually ( some have suggested he might be more interested in Dana Andrews, but there's no evidence of that. ) I think he is asexual, and his preoccupation with Laura is as Pygmalian's to his Galatea (you know, the Greek myth about the sculptor who became obsessed with his own work of art, the statue he created.)

 

Waldo decides to develop Laura's potential as a culturally sophisticated being, he reads to her, encourages her to listen to classical music, etc. But it is never indicated that he has any physical interest in her. Laura, on her part, is agreeable to spending her time with Waldo, but there is nothing in the film to indicate that she is scheming to use his wealth or reputation to her own advantage. Laura is fairly passive in the whole matter (except for her initial solicitation to endorse the pen), and has little interest in Waldo except a rather cranky intellectual avuncular figure to whom she is grateful( for his assistance in developing her career.)

 

Anyway, what I'm trying to say here is that Laura does not bring about Waldo's downfall, Waldo brings it about himself by his own obsession with Laura, his "Galatea". To me, a femme fatale is not a character who unknowingly or unintentionally destroys the male protagonist, but who on purpose uses him for her own gain, the consequences to the man be damned. Laura is too passive a character to do any of this.

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Dec 29, 2010 2:14 PM

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Dec 29, 2010 2:15 PM

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I agree with much of what you say, although I have been more inclined to determine femme fatale-ism by a woman's relative negative effect on men's behavior. Using that criterion, Laura could be called an "unintentional" femme fatale. In many cases, using men to get what a woman wants, and having a negative effect on men's behavior go hand in hand (e.g., Phyllis Diedrickson).

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Hmm. I think you both may be right. The classic femme fatale is more evil--she does what she does deliberately and often for gain. But you can stretch the definition to include women who maybe doesn't deliberately lead the guy astray--he goes bad to impress her or to help her out of trouble. Contrast the two roles played by Joan Bennet with Edward G Robinson--in Scarlet Street, she's actually out to get him, but in Woman in the Window, he gets in trouble by trying to help her. In both cases, she's been his downfall, but only in the first does she do it with evil intent.

 

This video doesn't answer the question, but it's fun...

 

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The very term "femme fatale", which I presume means "fatal female", implies that it is a female that has fatal effects, and this would be despite her intentions.

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I'm still not sure I agree with you guys about this. There should at the very least then, be a " sub" femme fatale category, the main one, in which the woman deliberately plans to take what she can from a man who is obsessed with her, and this other, unintentional femme category of which you and tracey speak, in which the female character unconsciously "destroys" the male character, even if it is without knowledge or intent on her part.

 

Ok, if you go by that, Laura is a "B" femme fatale. Of sorts. Now, can we think of any others?There must be quite a few, but offhand I can bring none to mind.

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Dec 30, 2010 2:07 PM

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I was wondering is there a counterpart for men--like malicious males. Or are only women capable of this crime?

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Tracey mentioned one-------Joan Bennett in WOMAN IN THE WINDOW. Another unintentional femme fatale who also caused Webb's downfall was Cathy Downs in THE DARK CORNER

 

Edited by: finance on Dec 30, 2010 5:57 PM

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Cathy Downs played the Clifton Webb character's wife in *Dark Corner*. As you probably recall, he'd married her because she so closely resembled the beautiful young woman in a painting he'd become obsessed with. (Shades of *Laura* - a man becomes enamoured with a painting.) And although the young wife couldn't help her much older husband's almost pathological passion for her/her idealized likeness, she clearly did not return his affection, and should not have married him in the first place.(Perhaps he's the ideal incarnation of a sugar daddy.)

 

Mari Cathcart may be the unwitting or perhaps unwilling recipient of Webb's obsessive love for her, but she is not completely passive in this story. She enters into an affair with Cathcart's associate without a hint of guilt or remorse or pity for her husband, and is, as I recall, scheming to meet with her lover and run away with him ( although I've seen the film several times - I love it ! - I can't recall the details of this part of the plot.) In any case, the only reason she married the Webb character was for his wealth, and she deliberately betrays and deceives him, so I would say that she is not the same kind of passive "B" type semi-femme fatale as Laura or Joan Bennett in *Woman in the Window*. In fact, it is Mari who shoots and kills her husband in the end.

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I never considered Laura a full-blooded femme fatale. Most of those dames are

packing heat, or have some sucker packing it for them, and they're not afraid to pull the

trigger. You really have to apportion most of the blame to Waldo and his obsession

with her, trying to mold her to his impossible vision of purrfection. She may have played

along a bit too long, but it's mostly Waldo. And while Mr. Lydecker is an awful snob,

Laura is pretty much white bread, artisanal white bread perhaps, but white bread none

the less.

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> {quote:title=cujas wrote:}{quote}

> I was wondering is there a counterpart for men--like malicious males. Or are only women capable of this crime?

 

There are examples of this in film noir. Two of them are Lawrence Tierney in BORN TO KILL and Robert Young(!) in THEY WON'T BELIEVE ME.

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Your comeback to my comment was like using a howitzer to kill an ant. --------(You remember the details of THE DARK CORNER much better than I do. I'm sure I could find some other unintentional femme fatales, but it would cut into my workout time.)

 

Edited by: finance on Dec 31, 2010 9:54 AM

 

Edited by: finance on Dec 31, 2010 9:55 AM

 

Edited by: finance on Dec 31, 2010 9:56 AM

 

Edited by: finance on Dec 31, 2010 10:41 AM

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> {quote:title=finance wrote:}{quote}

> Comparing the Young character to the Tierney character is like comparing someone who shoplifts a candy bar to Charles Manson.

 

You might want to check out the detailed synopsis here:

 

http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title.jsp?stid=2177

 

and reconsider that comparison. I agree that Tierney's character is the worse of the two, but Young is hardly a "candy bar shoplifter."

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