If you’ll check the record, the first Femme Fatale was a lady named Eve. Since then, Fatal Females have come in all shapes and sizes. It is fun to list the famous ones: Salome, Jezebel, the Sirens, Delilah, Morgan le Fay, Cleopatra. As beautiful as these ladies were, we can’t help but remember what happened to the good men who became involved with them.
The real danger of a Femme Fatale is of course her powers of seduction. This implies that the trouble that men get into isn’t really their fault; they would never be lead astray by a virtuous woman. Yet it is little surprise that men aren’t all that interested in virtuous a woman. The danger of a Femme Fatale is part of her attraction, sort of a role reversal of Good Girl’s attraction to the Bad Boy. The classic Femme Fatale is at least somewhat exotic, like the Eastern allure of spy Mata Hari, or the bombshell good-looks of a moll from a Hard-boiled Noir-detective story. In any case the male victim knows that here is a dame he should have nothing to do with, but he can’t help himself.
Our collection of Fatal Females starts with Academy Award Theater and Lux Radio Theater‘s productions of “Jezebel” with Bette Davis. Lux goes on to give us a number of femme fatale stories, including “Samson and Delilah” and “All About Eve”.
The ladies who show up on Suspense! are likely to be up to no good, but then again, almost everyone who turns up on Suspense! is pretty much suspect.
Speaking of suspects, Sgt. Joe Friday brings us more than his share of baddies in his pursuit of “just the fact’s, ma’am.” Private detectives of both the Hard and Soft Boiled variety get to deal with untrustworthy Dames, and we bring you examples from Sam Spade, The Fat Man, and Have Gun, Will Travel; Paladin’s adventure has the potential to be deadly but turns out even more dangerous, as the Lady falls for the gun fighter!
Of course we haven’t forgotten the classic Fatal Female, Cleopatra herself. Blackstone, the Magic Detective and Origin of Superstition deal with this deadly lady’s legend while Stroke of Fate reminds us what happens to one of her boyfriends in “Julius Caesar”.
Enjoy this episode of “Cat Wife” from Lights Out: