Of course you can trust me, darling. Image: Film School Rejects

Break out the champagne! It’s National Classic Movie Day on May 16 and we hope you’ll find some time to celebrate.

Rick at Classic Film and TV Café is our host, and he’s asked everyone to bring Four Favourite Noirs to the party. It was extremely difficult to pare down the list to four, but we managed to do it out of love for you, Dear Reader.

You’re familiar with noirs, the thrillers that emerged in the 1940s-50s in the shadow of WWII. They were dark in tone and design, and they leaned heavily on German Expressionism. It was the French who named them films noir.

Our focus today is the Femme Fatale, the woman who hastens the downfall of the morally-compromised protagonist. This isn’t a person we’d ever want to meet in Real Life, but there are some unforgettable portrayals we admire.

Double Indemnity (1944)

Barbara Stanwyck plays Fred MacMurray for a sucker. Image: The Hollywood Reporter

Barbara Stanwyck stars as, perhaps, the Greatest Salesman of All Time. When she meets an insurance agent (Fred MacMurray), she persuades him to kill her husband because she’s so Hard Done By. MacMurray’s fatal flaw is thinking he’s the salesman here, and believing he’s smart enough to outwit the System.

Too Late for Tears (1949)

I’m in charge! –No, I’M in charge! Image: Film Forum

Lizabeth Scott is superb as a woman who unexpectedly gains an illegal windfall, and she’s determined to Capitalize on it. (Her character is all Greed and she makes no apologies for it.) Scott soon discovers that a police officer and a criminal are trailing her, and she maneuvers around them to hang onto that moola.

The Locket (1946)

Uh oh – the chickens have Come Home to Roost. Image: Sleeping All Day

Laraine Day is the Queen of Gaslighting, a woman who’s connected to some awfully suspicious deaths. No matter, darling! She smoothly shifts Blame and Responsibility onto others, while convincing men she’s an Unfortunate Victim. The Locket has flashbacks within flashbacks, and you won’t believe the slick audacity of Day’s character.

Detour (1945)

Don’t get any fancy ideas, Tom Neal. Image: Encyclopedia Britannica

Femmes fatales are controlling and manipulative, and an excellent example is Ann Savage’s character in Detour. Savage is as hard as cement, and she doesn’t even blink when she blackmails Tom Neal for an accidental murder. But when she learns about an inheritance that may be up for Grabs, she pushes them both to the Breaking Point.

Now that we’ve shared some of our faves, which films noir do you enjoy?

This post is part of the FOUR FAVOURITE NOIRS Blogathon, hosted by The Classic Film & TV Café.

Happily blogging about old movies and using the royal "We".

36 Comment on “National Classic Movie Day: Four Femmes Fatale

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