drama movie. Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) lures the hapless and morally weak insurance salesman Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) into a plot to murder her husband and collect his life insurance. As usual with femme fatales, she doesn't actually have Neff's best interests at heart and the plot plays out with sadistic and almost unbearable suspense.
"The Big Sleep"
One of the things that makes femme fatales so dangerous is it's not easy to identify them as such in the early going. So it is with Mary Astor in "The Maltese Falcon" who presents herself as a quasi-damsel in distress hiring private detective Sam Spade (Bogart again) to find her missing sister. It soon becomes apparent that she has much more insidious purposes in mind, involving a certain priceless jewel-encrusted falcon.
Not all femme fatale movies come from the 1940s. One of the best ones came around in the not-too-distant past of 1991. Her name is Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone) and brought the femme fatale to new heights of violence and explicit sexuality. Unlike the other femme fatales on this list, Tramell is a straight-up serial killer who seduces men, kills them and manipulates her way out of the consequences. Or is she? You have to watch the movie to find out, but it's indisputable that death follows her around just like the femme fatales of old.
These four femme fatale movies are only a sample of what you'll find if you continue to study the femme fatale in movies. Women who know how to hurt men are a common theme in films, both '40s noir and elsewhere.