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Femme Fatale Archetype

March 24, 2013 , ,

Rita Hayworth embodied the ultimate femme fatale in her movie role of Gilda. She was the pin-up goddess that excited WWII soldiers with her sexy alluring figure. Classic dangerous women come in a few formats. In literature this woman can be everything from a succubus, destroying men in their sleep, to a sexy helpless woman hiring a private eye.  She differs from the Vamp in her indirect approach.  She uses manipulative behavior to acquire money and men without investing any personal emotion.  In some stories, she also kills her victim.  When she is rejected, like Scarlett O’Hara is in Gone with the Wind, she may experience an opening of the heart, and a change.  Is this woman totally a myth, or do we see her in our lives?  Are there public femme fatales?

What do you think?

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comments

LOVE femme fatales! I actually took an entire class dedicated to these ladies back in college…film noir quickly became one of my favorite genres:-)

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Jess @UsedYorkCity

March 25, 2013

YES!!! Tight close up of Barbara Stanwyk in a hat…smoking a cigarette

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mermaidcamp

March 25, 2013

Film noir is pretty cool. I see it still lives in cinema to a large degree. Barbara Stanwyk still reigns as the queen of the genre.
I’m a fan of musicals. The Donen/Kelly musical “It’s Always Fair Weather” is of note.
In this movie the sexy and glamorous Dolores Grey performs a symbolic “femme fatale” kind of song and dance number where she rejects the advances of wealthy men. The men are helpless to resist her and she kills them all with a gun, dynamite, and by shoving them down trap doors. She really appears to enjoy it. I think this number was way ahead of it’s time as the movie was made in 1955. It also exposes some male fragility (like film noir) but in a brazen manner. I can imagine a male audience being uneasy watching this way back then as easy as I can see women celebrating it.
I don’t really think that the femme fatale is a myth. Each one works a bit differently on each type of man. They’re real and they are kind of mysterious.

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Rick

March 26, 2013

In 1955 I can well imagine women relishing it…I remember because I was born in 1951. I agree about Stanwyk…even in the Big Valley she had a certain….command.

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mermaidcamp

March 26, 2013

Yes. I don’t recall Barbara’s “Big Valley” character ever having a weak moment.

Here is Dolores’ “Thanks a Lot ” number in case you haven’t seen it.

Cheers

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Rick

March 27, 2013

This number is tooooooooo wonderful. You are right that in 1955 this was feminism ….I might do a post about this song..do you mind? I believe the gentle readers want to see it.

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mermaidcamp

March 27, 2013

The whole movie is ahead of it’s time. The dance numbers are playful and reckless. It’s critical of TV as popular media. It has a commentary about the nature of waning friendships. It also has Cyd Charisse as a very strong female executive. It has sad, uncomfortable moments……..Very un-musical like. Give it as spin if you care.
By all means please do a post. Dolores’ number has such an edge to it. Much more so than Monroe’s “Diamond Are Girls best Friend”.
I feel that several factors made the movie fall flat when it was first released. Perhaps the strength of the ladies performances? Subversive then. But by todays standards it could be one of the best musicals ever made.

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Rick

March 27, 2013

I agree and really appreciate your insight. It reminds me of the Cole Porter black and white number in Tank Girl, one of my favorite contemporary feminist films. Thanks a lot, Rick..off to research this..

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mermaidcamp

March 27, 2013

Tank Girl!…….That’s an interesting study of an M4 Sherman.

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Rick

March 27, 2013

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