' ' Cinema Romantico: My Christmas List: Top 5 Favorite Femme Fatales

Monday, December 06, 2010

My Christmas List: Top 5 Favorite Femme Fatales

Here she comes, you better watch your step
She's going to break your heart in two, it's true
It's not hard to realize
Just look into her false colored eyes
- Velvet Undergound, "Femme Fatale"

This list is for Milla Jovovich who was so fantastic as the femme fatale in "Stone", a movie that no one saw and that I loved because I have utterly no idea, as they say, "what the people want", and a movie that should cause every single executive in Hollywood to be fighting one another to cast her in another neo-noir though no doubt she will instead wind up in the 27th "Resident Evil" film instead because that's why those execs get paid the big bucks, see.

Femme fatales are such an integral part of the cinema. They are, as Sheila Johnson wrote for The Guardian, women who "came prowling out of the shadows, wreathed in smoke, wisecracks and stolen mink; women no better than they should be, with only trouble in mind. They never needed to diet, displayed but a flickering interest in men for money, power and meaningless sex, and were more likely to accessorize with a gun than a Chihuahua." These are my absolute favorites. Who are yours?

5. Ellen Graham (Veronica Lake), "This Gun For Hire." Oh, there have been better femme fatales. Much, much, much, much, much better. But if femme fatales are all about making weak-kneed men go, well, weak at the knees, I’m fairly certain Veronica Lake as Ellen Graham could make my weak knees go weak faster than any of ‘em.

"Excuse me, Miss, what do you need me to do?  Name it and I'll do it.  Rob a bank?  Shoot someone?  Steal a space shuttle?  Whatever!  It doesn't matter!  I'LL DO IT!!!!!"
4. Evelyn Mulwray (Faye Dunaway), "Chinatown." The woman at the center of The Greatest Movie Ever Made’s maelstrom was sort of a new take on the archetype even though the film was set in the 30’s. She was more neurotic, more vulnerable, but she definitely had a lotta trouble on her mind. I contend you could make a considerable argument that Ms. Dunaway is The Greatest Actress Of All Time and my favorite Dunaway line reading ever is from this and it goes: "I never see anyone for very long, Mr. Gittes." Now pardon me while I faint.

3. Daphne Monet (Jennifer Beals), "Devil In A Blue Dress." Forget Alex Owens, the title character of this woefully underrated 1940’s-set noir (released in 1995) that Denzel Washington’s kinda private eye Easy Rawlins is trying to track down is the essential Beals character. It’s not that she’s sultry, though she is, it’s the voice that makes it. My God, the voice. It’s the only voice in the history of the world I’ve wanted to make love to. I’m sorry! I’m sorry I took it there but I had to! I HAD TO!!! HAVE YOU HEARD THE VOICE?! Let me see if I can describe it....her voice trembles with sexuality. It doesn’t ooze with it, okay? It trembles with it. Her voice is like tasting a whiskey that teases your lips with just a hint of smokiness and so you think the aftertaste will be one of those unbearable gas-soaked bonfires except it unexpectedly deviates into a kind of candied malevolence. It’s just unbelievable.  Now pardon me while I faint again.

2. Kathie Moffat (Jane Greer), "Out of the Past". For my hard-earned money, the quintessential femme fatale is Kathie Moffat. The film scholar Tim Dirks described her thusly: "...self-indulgent, lethal, and (an) erotic enchantress." Yes, yes and yes. She double crosses and triple crosses and quadruple crosses and quintuple crosses and she’ll shoot someone if she’s got to, and she does, and when her inevitable moment of reckoning arrives you know you should be thinking "Burn in hell, you evil b----" except what you’re really thinking is "Fare thee well, my bewitching aphrodite."

1. Vivian Sternwood Rutledge (Lauren Bacall), "The Big Sleep." Kathie Moffat might have been a slightly better femme fatale but Vivian Sternwood Rutledge was played by Lauren Bacall. So she wins.


Wretched Genius said...

Normally I'd counter with a Top 5 list of my own, but I am tired and have a lot of work to do today. So I'll just say that my #1 is Linda Fiorentino in The Last Seduction.

Nick Prigge said...

Oooooh....nice. Good one.

Simon said...

Can we include Katharine Hepburn? Not so obviously one, but she is dangerous, that lady.

Nick Prigge said...

We can include Katharine. She was essentially a femme fatale in "The Lion In The Winter."

jim patterson said...

I don't know how yopu copul; dleave out barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity.