What is a Femme Fatale, or Vamp? They are often thought of as ‘cold blooded’ creatures of the night who have husbands that are often helpless, luckless, men. In Film Noir classics, you’ll see that these female characters are just as vulnerable! We’ve prepared a list of popular husband-wife, femme fatale-jealous husband pairings.
1. Séverine Roubaud (played by Simone Simon) and Roubaud (played by Fernand Ledoux) in La Bête Humaine (1938)
Séverine is the perfect Femme Fatale in this French drama, directed by Jean Renoir, also starring the great Jean Gabin. She looks terribly innocent, and young, and has all the attributes of a so-called ‘Vamp’ – the dark hair, good looks, hypnotic gaze, and pouty lips.
2. Gilda Mundson Farrell (played by Rita Hayworth) and Ballin Mundson (played by George Macready) in Gilda (1946)
Cited as Hayworth’s best performance, and the ‘ultimate’ Femme Fatale. This story has a load of twists, turns, espionage and is one to watch, not just for the well played characters!
3. Phyllis Dietrichson (played by Barbara Stanwyck) and Mr Dietrichson (played by Tom Powers) in Double Indemnity (1944)
Barbara Stanwyck is hailed as having set the bar for Femme Fatales of the Film Noir genre. Phyllis successfully seduces a helpless salesman, persuading him to kill her husband ‘Mr Dietrichson’.
4. Cora Smith (played by Lana Turner) and Nick Smith (played by Cecil Kellaway) in The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
This movie, like the one before it in this list, is based on a novel by American crime fiction writer James M. Cain. Beautiful Cora is tied down to her older husband, who she isn’t in love with (as is always the story) and, upon falling in love with another man, she plots to get rid of her husband by killing him with her new lover.
5. Ellen Berent Harland (played by Gene Tierney) and Richard Harland (played by Cornel Wilde) in Leave Her to Heaven (1945).
There is no ‘jealous husband’ in this pairing but instead a jealous wife who’s also the Femme Fatale! This heroine, antagonist, is a great, extremely tragic, character who Gene Tierney plays fantastically in what has to be one of my favorite films!
Who are some of your favorite Femme Fatale characters?