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precarious since 1997 | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Could there ever be a detective film noir with a female lead and a homme fatale?

film noir

The other day, reader Drave tweeted at me:

Has there ever been a detective noir flick with a female lead and a homme fatale? I’m having trouble thinking of one.

I can’t think of one either. And I figured it would be interesting to throw the query out to the readership and see if anyone can think of one. But I suspect you’re all going to have trouble coming up with even one title that fits these criteria because of the more interesting side of the question:

Could there ever be a detective film noir with a female lead and a homme fatale?

A hardbitten woman detective isn’t a stretch — in fact, we see characters who verge close to this on television quite frequently these days. It’s the homme fatale bit that’s harder to see working in a serious way (though it could likely worth well in a parody or comedy). The notion of women as dangerous to men — in a metaphoric way, when it comes to sex and romance, and literally, when wielding a smoking gun — works because it’s an unexpected exaggeration male anxiety. The notion of men as literally fatally dangerous to women is… well, an actual fact of life for far too many women to feel like it could serve a similar archetypal purpose that the femme fatale character serves in film noir.
As always, I’d be delighted to be proven wrong by a really good film noir with a homme fatale.

What do you think?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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